Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Steamboat Models In Contemporary Times -The View

           Steamboat historian and shipmodel specialist Rex Stewart works attentively on a
          scale replica of S.S. ARROW of New England's  Colonial Line, showing her 
          appearance between 1936 - 1942. The ARROW first ran as the BELFAST for
          for the Boston and Bangor Division of the Eastern Steamship Company.

           Rex Stewart's profile plan drawing of Hudson River nightboat ONTEORA as
          she appeared in 1906. At 1/8" = 1' scale, the actual length of this model was
          30 7/8" inches. The plans were produced and copyrighted in 1992.

At last, there is now an amazing trend happening in the world of steamboat collecting - a resurgence of steamboat lore through the acquisitions of models that seem to grace  boardrooms, libraries and homes in the Northeast Corridor. Deemed as part of the designer's methaphor to accent rooms which capture American maritime in its heydey of the prolific sidewheeler.

Observing this recent trend has brought me to realize the possibilities to open a door for contemporary collectibles that reflect America's past in its zenith of the Industrial Age. This being the maritime and the beautiful vessels that once graced its waters.
These replicas are reminscent of the sidewheelers that commuted on the Hudson River and throughout the New England Region during the heydey of steamboating. And though my material only address certain vessels, it doesn't limit my abilities to design and reconstruct custom models from other regions, provided there is enough available data.

As a craftsman, my first priority for undertaking a project is to aim for accuracy. Meaning, how can I provide the 'best' accuracy for bringing to the collector/investor a true and concise model.


                                  Hudson River steamboat JOHN E. MOORE c.1853  

Most plans for steamboats are non-existant and no hard rules apply to authenticate those  plans/blueprints that are available. Plans were blueprints which defined a vessel, but seldom did the 19th century builder adhere to them. To assist my research I carefully scrutinize available documents such as literature, photos and paintings -information necessary for producing non-copied original drawings. Once these drawings are realized, I am then able to produce the model.

Each and every model, whether a reproduction of the first, or a custom 'original'; each has its own elegance and persona. My models are scratchbuilt at the highest standards, using the basic woods of pine and bass. The hull being of select pine and the remaining superstructure and deck details of basswood. The flags are handpainted on treated paper
to present a sense of 'movement' and 'free-flow' as if these were flapping in the wind.

I always attempt to build the models to portray a vessel as it may have appeared in that year. This, of course, is a paintstaking process but one which I enjoy pursuing. To this end I can say, with certainty, that these one-of-a-kind steamboats are truly for the collector who desires accuracy followed by quality and hands-on research.

Since coming into this unique genre in 1982, I obtained a much learned experience concerning the dynamics of Northeast steamboating in both configuratiuon and design.
The models serve as ambassadors of my artform.These are historical miniatures that represent the period and the vessel.

For more information about this line of work for a custom commission, email: or call 1-774-757-7137. I would be most honored to serve your preferences. 

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