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Title: Reconditioning an Eighteenth Century Ship Model, VALKENISSE Retourschip of 1717
Author: Rob Napier
Publication Date: 2008
Publisher: SeaWatchBooks LLC. 19 Sea Watch Placé, Florence, OR
97439; www.seawatchbooks.com.
ISBN: 978-0-9820579-0-2.
Binding: Hardcover, 8"X 11"
Edition: First
Pp.: 253

Numerous photographs, drawings, five appendices including tables, brief glossary of Dutch terms, index, four plans.

Valkenisse, a “retourschip,” meaning a return ship, was a Dutch East Indiaman belonging to the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) or United East India Company. Built in Middelburg in 1717, the vessel sailed between Holland and Batavia (now Djakarta) taking supplies out and expensive merchandise back, making seven round trips before being wrecked in 1740. While Valkenisse was lost, a model of her still exists, almost 300 years after an unknown builder created it to decorate VOC headquarters in Middelburg. This model is now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston.  Valkenisse, one of twenty retourschip models in existence, was damaged and devoid of its masts and rigging when MFA asked Napier if he would like to rig the model, this despite the fact that two others had worked on the model in the previous hundred years and there was little information as to what either had done.

The book, beautifully written and produced, documents Napier's ten-year reconditioning process, a term he feels is more appropriate, with much of the time spent on vast amounts of research, study and old- fashioned detective work to decide what had been, how, and by which builders hand - the original builder, an unknown English one, or a later American owner.

The book contains a foreword by Albert Hoving, ship model restorer at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam; the preface is by Gerald W.R. Ward, senior curator of decorative arts at MFA, Boston. Hoving, Ward and others provided support during the reconditioning and book-writing process.

Chapters are as follows; Opportunity, Provenance, Research Sources including studies and photos of most of the existing retourschips, The Riddle of the Scales, Preparing the Berth, The Hull Below the Main Rail, The Hull, Main Rail and Above, Going Aboard (a tour of the model) Sparring, Rigging Preparations, Standing Rigging, Running Rigging and the Final Steps, followed by five appendices, a glossary, sources and an index. There are also four folding plans by Napier in a pocket on the inside back cover. The book is lavishly illustrated, primarily with Napier's photos and illustrations.

 

If I never build this boat, it is still worth having it in my library. 

 

Thank you,

Marc

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