Napoleonic French Prisoner of War Finely Carved and Detailed Scale Model of a 124 Gun First Rate Ship of the Line (1800 to 1900 England)


Bone, wood, hair, polychrome and brass


Provenance: Acquired by the Reverend William Vaughan (1799-1866)
Later 3rd Baronet of Nanau, Rector of Pontesbury, Hinton Hall
Pontesbury, County Salop
An inventory entry reads: … ‘Model of British Man-O’-War (c.1800) Made by French Prisoners of the Napoleonic Wars (From bones of their rations and their own hair), in Salop Gaol’
Thence by descent through the Vaughan Family, an inventory of 1958 lists the ship as no. 90. Sold by the Vaughans of Hengwrt and Rhug, Merionethshire, North Wales, at Auction 2008


There is a description of the Napoleonic prison artists at work by an American prisoner of war, George Little… ‘The French’, he writes ‘brought themselves systematically to some pursuit; they manufactured a variety of articles such as bone work of various descriptions, instruments of music, miniature ships and straw plait for bonnets, which were bought up by the country people or exchanged for their produce.’ Considerable rewards seemed to await the successful bone worker. Little goes on ‘these French prisoners had become so thoroughly reconciled to their situation (some of them having been here six and eight years) that their minds appeared to be wholly occupied with gain. I knew many of them, who, when peace was effected between France and England have saved from one to two thousand guineas and there were some who did not actually wish to leave the prison’.

Description / Expertise

A Superb Napoleonic French Prisoner of War Finely Carved and Detailed Scale Model of a 124 Gun First Rate Ship of the Line
With standing and running hair rigging above a planked and pinned deck, horn gunwales, turned brass cannon finely carved quarter and stern galleries, the carved figurehead a roman centurion, symbolic of the god Mars. The arched curved and galleried transom decorated with carved angels, the windows dressed with gilt foil
Contemporary painted polychrome decoration to the mizzen, main and fore top, numerous carved fittings including capstan, water barrels, three long boats complete with oars, two bone and brass anchors and a painted Union Jack
The whole mounted on an original galleried carved bone and pinewood base Complete with an attached bone 10-inch scale rule
Excellent condition, contained in a later mahogany and glass display case
Circa 1810- 1815

Size: 35cm high, 46.5cm long, 13cm deep – 13¾ ins high, 18¼ ins long, 5 ins deep