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I'm sure like many of you I marvel at the small scale ships Javier Baron builds. They are absolutely beautiful/amazing, etc. Seeing his work got me interested in "possibly" building in the scale Javier works (1:200 I think). I'm always surfing the web looking for ship building/tool getting/book reviewing, etc.... anything related to my interests. Sure enough I googled "miniatures ships" and all types of info pops up. One of the photos was a picture of a ship that Lloyd McCaffery built. I'm sure many of you are fimiliar with his work but I wasn't. So, I googled a bit more and up pops the name of a dealer who sells McCaffery's models to collectors. I went to the site (J. Russell Jinishian Gallery, Inc.) and noted they were selling McCaffery's work for anywhere between $5000 - $250,000 U.S. I did a "double take" at the $250M and then scrolled to see some of his models, etc. They are exquisite and even breath taking (at least for me). It's difficult for me to describe the detail, etc. he achieves in such small scale.

 

I  learned he's written a book (copyright 1988) so I ordered a copy and received it today. I've scanned a few pages and realized if I (of minimal modeling skills) even thought doing anything in miniature I'd be locked in a padded cell very quickly. If this (not the padded cell) is of interest google the J. Russell gallery noted above.  I didn't find a website address but the gallery name should work...Moab

 

P.S.  I'll try to do a book review when finished but I may get locked in that padded cell just reading the book.

 

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Additional readings can be Donald McNarry and Philip Reed. 

And some people go way further than 1:200 (see the models of Joe100 here in the forum. Not sailing ships, but mindbending nonetheless). There is a whole group of modellers working at 1:1200, mainly for modern ships.

 

Jan

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I'm not sure how many of McCaffery's exotically priced models have sold at that level. Certainly they are tours de forces, but whether there is a market at that level is debatable. I can see a price up to 30K or 40K being commanded by a top builder such as McNarry or Reed.

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A number of years ago there was a miniature model by Lloyd McCaffery ( I think that it was of USS Constitution) in the ship model gallery at Mystic Seaport.  The listed price was $100,000.  The propreitor told me that he did not expect that it would ever sell for that kind of money but he apparently liked having it in his gallery.

 

Roger

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I had a chance see an example of McCaffery’s work Mystic years ago, it was amazing. As far as price I think it may be a case of like selling a house. When it won’t sell at what would be a reasonable price, jack up the price to move up into a market that doesn’t care about price. Then ownership is for a entirely different reason. What the reason would be I’ll never know because I will never ever be in that position.

 

Kurt

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There was a magazine article written about Mystic selling a Lloyd McCaffery ship model around 1990 approx. It was the 100 gun ship Prince of 1670 and went for $100K, but the gallery spent about $30K marketing it. Was the most spent for a contemporary ship model at that time. Shortly after that I was having a long distance phone conversation with a leading maritime artist who informed me that McCaffery recently sold a miniature whaler also for $100K. He didn't mention the name of the ship or any particulars about the sale.

 

Scott

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$250 is  more than a bit crazy (and will probably never sell for that price).  One thing to take into account is art galleries profit percentage is usually between 40-60%.

I think Kurt's analogy is right on; you can ask whatever you think your house is worth but may not get it...Moab

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As with most art works, the cachet of the artist adds a lot to the collectors' market price of the works. Consider what Andy Warhol got for a silk screen print of a Campbell's soup can! Artists like McCaffery, McNalley, and Reed command high prices not only because their works are magnificent, but also because they've developed a well-heeled following in the collector's market. If you follow their careers, it seems all of them sold a lot of really fine works for peanuts in the early years of their careers. They all have stories of models they sold for a few hundred bucks bringing tens of thousands of dollars upon resale after they became famous. (I should have such problems! :D )

 

Their work is mind-boggling. I've studied a number of McCaffery's models in the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon. The enlarged close-up photos in books really don't do it justice. We're talking "engraving the Lord's Prayer on a grain of rice" level work here. It's hard to believe human hands can create that level of accurate detail at that scale, but he does. 

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One of the things that bothers me is works of art and other objects that are bought purely as an investment item. Things are bought and often squirreled away for the future and nobody gets to see them or enjoy them. The purchaser may know absolutely nothing about or care in anyway about what he has purchased. The item then becomes completely out of reach for those that do. Quite often I would imagine the creator of the object receives very little in the way financial compensation. 
     Actually, Philip Reed mentioned in one the videos about him that he never made very much in regards to money. Its often a true labor of love.

 

Please excuse my little rant.

 

Kurt

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Very interesting - I do find the carving aspect of some of his models a bit overpowering  though the work is wondeful in itself.

Like his ideas of using Nichrome 80 nickel-chromium alloy for rigging and Japanese rice paper for sails

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Not being a wood carver myself, what do you mean by "overpowering?" I'm not being critical...i just don't understand...Moab

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I just noticed this thread! My favorite modelers too!

 

I might throw in some perspective as a private collector of art to make some of this make sense. In order to fully understand these numbers you have to remove yourself from the equation. We’re all ship modelers and everyone here is darn good at what they do. Full stop. We know the secrets behind how a McNarry, or Reed, or McCaffery was made just like how we know a Van Gogh or Monet was painted. However, their works have transcended ship modeling and entered into the world of high art. Once that line is crossed, these stop being models and become something more. A je ne sais quoi moment really. It’s like asking why Bonnard’s “le chat blanc” is in the Orsay Museum in Paris. It’s a weird painting, but it has that certain something that makes one stop and ponder it. A bit of magic behind the curtain. I work with a gallery in California for my good works, and while they typically deal in the Dutch masters, even they have heard of McNarry.

 

So are they worth it as models? Maybe. Are they worth it at auction as high art? To the right person, certainly! The bottom line is that some ship models are special, and they evoke something in those who aren’t modelers themselves. We should enjoy the fact that these ships sell for what they do, when they do because it elevates us all. 

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Thanks Allan!

 

I hope I struck the right tone there, I don’t want anyone to think I was saying some of us aren’t worthy, not at all! 
 

I’ve read every word written by McNarry and you get the sense very quickly that his clients were almost always wealthy, and sometimes royalty for that matter. He was already selling to the great and the good so that I’m sure helped to elevated his status enormously. I don’t mean that is a bad thing, but if you sell a work to a known collector of fine things, well your item becomes a fine thing too. 
 

I missed an auction a while back that had a McNarry ship. It hadn’t been taken care of well, some damage, faded paint etc. I heard it hadn’t gone for a crazy price either, wrong crowd. Those sorts of things happen at auctions. I would love to have owned it, damage and all. 

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Amen brothers and sisters! I’m a bit envious of MANY of the models I see on the forum. And I also wish I could afford one of McNarry’s or Reed’s models. To me they are breathtaking!

...Moab

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Through a lifetime of admiring fine and interesting things of all description, many of which seemed so common and ordinary to most folk, there comes a time when quite a few of us think 'I wish I'd squirreled a few of those away back then'.

Cudos to those with foresight, who filled a barn with Merlin engines when you could find them at disposal auctions for very little money. It's the same with thousands of items that would have been thrown on a bonfire, there are those who appreciated these things and preserved them and put them away. In a way they did us all a favour.

The advent of digital photography and forums such as this gives us all the opportunity to admire the things we value. As a youth, the only access I had to images of interest were in old books (you couldn't afford) containing illustrations which by modern standards were laughable. Of course, if you eventually were lucky enough to get to see these things in the big museums, the reality became mind bending.

Many of the superlative models on this forum will never be seen in the flesh by the vast majority of us mere mortals, weather they are in a bank vault or the builders lounge.

By far, the majority of us are lucky to have the affordable modern resources to experience the finer things in life vicariously.

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Didn't notice this thread before, didn't scroll down far enough, I suppose ...

 

Had McCaffery's book since it came out and MacNarry's and Reed's books as well. Unfortunately the print quality of the latter two does not seem to do really justice to their products. I wonder, whether better quality pictures are available somewhere, either as hardcopy or on some Web-site ?

 

McCaffery seems to have moved more and more into miniature carving and not only ship-related. I gather it is the models with a lot of carving that impress people and they collect them as art objects, rather than for their maritime subject.

 

I have been collecting watchmaking machinery for the past 30+ years and it makes me cry, when I think how many good machine tools have been sold off as scrap, when CNC came around. In fact, one of the high-end machine tool manufacturers in the Swiss Jura is know to have deliberately destroyed the machines they built themselves for their own production purposes, when the switched to CNC, so that no one could pick them up and compete with them ...

 

I have also been collecting books on maritime and technical subjects for decades and in fact have some very rare books in my library. I collected them mainly for their information content and not because they are rare. However, I found that the library become increasingly devalued by the digitising efforts of many libraries and archives. I have mixed feelings about the Google project though, as they usually do not scan the main source of information, the folding plates, in a proper way, making the digitised books quite useless. So at least for those books my hardcopies are of value.

 

Coming back to McCaffery: I learned a lot from him, even for slightly larger scales. And it is a challenge to achieve the same level of detail even at larger scales. However, he puts a lot of emphasis on his artisanal skills and resulting value as artisanal objects of his models, which is probably his selling point as a professional model builder, but I personally put more emphasis on the accurate representation of the subject, which may require the use of materials and techniques he frowns upon. His techniques and materials are less suited to iron and steel ships than to wooden ships.

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I've not heard of Mr. Read, but then have not been very active in this field for some time now. However I am very surprised that DonaldHunnisett's name has not been mentioned. I always thought his work was better than McNarry's.  All I seemed to see of the latter was merchant ships. maybe my complete lack of interest in that topic clouded my judgement. But having inspected many Hunnisett models at the Model Engineer exhibition my opinion of his work has only increased.  

McCaffery ,as Wefalck suggested, more an artisanal tour de force. Remarkable, but somehow soulless.  A similar criticism can be levelled at Gerald Wingrove's model cars. He loved Americana, so his Deusenbergs were fine efforts, but his Ferrari 250 GTO was not only lacking, but actually wrong in parts.  And although they were always priced (and sold at) around £17,000 -£25,000 each originally, recent auctions have seen them struggle to reach 5 figures at all, usually much less.  I have seen Michel Conti's once lauded work in that field and they were not as good as their constant features in Model Cars magazine would suggest. Consequently they were selling for only around £2,000-£3,000 at an auction I attended.

I think McCaffery's models do indeed sell for those prices mentioned and if you consider the methods used in their construction that is perhaps a reasonable figure, though I dare say much of that figure is because they have reached trendy status, for which the uninformed but rich will shell out silly money.

 

Martin

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27 minutes ago, wefalck said:

I have also been collecting books on maritime and technical subjects for decades and in fact have some very rare books in my library. I collected them mainly for their information content and not because they are rare. However, I found that the library become increasingly devalued by the digitising efforts of many libraries and archives. I have mixed feelings about the Google project though, as they usually do not scan the main source of information, the folding plates, in a proper way, making the digitised books quite useless. So at least for those books my hardcopies are of value.

You sure can say that again! I'll never give up my library, but it is sometimes discouraging to see books I spent years looking for in used book stores come out digitized on line or reprinted in "quality paperbacks." That said, I do think there will come a time when books will regain their rightful place, much as has been happening with vinyl records in recent times. 

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My models are priceless - I will never sell them ;)

 

The good point about (quality) scans is that they make information more widely accessible. I remember very well the frustration when someone pointed out errors in models based on the information to him, but to which I did not have access, even though I may have been aware of the existence of the respective book.

 

People are quite capable of making a cult around almost everything, be this founded on the substance or not. The discussion about digital vs. analog recordings and reproduction in music has been raging ever since CDs came onto the market. I also depends on how you were framed in your formative years and what hearing habits you have developed. I love those shattering and cracking shellac opera recordings for their 'atmosphere', while my wife hates them, because you cannot hear the 'real' voice. Those scratchy jazz recordings convey the atmosphere of the time, because that's how they were shortly after people bought the records in the 1920s or 30s, digitally 'remastering' them takes most of the atmosphere out of them.

 

However, this has nothing to do with miniature ship models ...

 

There are probably dozens of excellent miniaturists we never hear or see of, because they don't go public, they are not on the fora, they don't go to exhibiitions with their models, and they don't write books.

 

NB, I have been very disappointed by the Model Engineering Exhibition in Alexandra Palace (London) in January this year. I went there after a 20+ year break. Very few ships (this was never their strong point anyway) and almost nothing that really attracted my admiration.

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10 hours ago, wefalck said:

NB, I have been very disappointed by the Model Engineering Exhibition in Alexandra Palace (London) in January this year. I went there after a 20+ year break. Very few ships (this was never their strong point anyway) and almost nothing that really attracted my admiration.

I'm here in the US and will probably never have the opportunity to attend an MEE in London, but I do follow the British model engineering hobby from afar (thanks to the internet.) It's my impression from the commentaries that the MEE and the model engineering hobby generally, has been in a long decline. I've read several laments that the MME "ain't what it used to be" and not just with respect to ship models, but also to miniature working models generally. That's true in the US, as well, and we never came close to the interest in the hobby in Britain in its heyday. There is the Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum in Carlsbad, California which I do hope to visit one day. (I live in California, but California is a big place. It's 500 miles from me!)  https://www.craftsmanshipmuseum.com/ Their website has a wonderful collection of their exhibits and is well worth perusing. The level of the work is mind-boggling. 

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5 hours ago, wefalck said:

That museum is sponsored by Sherline, I understand ...

Yes. It's funded by the Joe Martin Foundation. Joe Martin founded the museum and was the president and owner of Sherline and Sherline, I believe, remains active in its operation.

 

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Although the museum does not feature many nautical exhibits it is a truly special place. I’ve never owned or used a milling machine or metal cutting lathe (although I’d love to own them) but the exhibits on display are breathtaking. My 95 year old father-in-law visited the museum three time during his ten day stay with us. We live in La Jolla so it’s only thirty minutes+- to Carlsbad. There is little if any Sherline promotion with the exception of a usage manual for those who do use these machines. If you want to see some incredibly fully functional  machines this is one “Overwhelming” place (those are my father-in-law’s words...Moab

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