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History of the NYYC's Model Collection


Bassett-Lowke of Northampton; UK built two models of Endeavour for the NYYC. Bassett-Lowke, a name revered in model building circles, started in the model business in 1898. At first, a mail order supplier for model engineering parts and later, after the turn of the century as a maker of custom models, model parts and kits of scale models. As Bassett-Lowke grew and their shops enlarged they started building custom presentation models for private clients and shipyards that found it no longer economical to have an in-house model shop. Their only competitor at the time they started in the custom model business was the Model Dockyard in London the makers of the model Sappho mentioned earlier. John Brown's shipyard commissioned them to build the Presentation Model of the RMS Queen Mary (now on display at the Seaman's Church Institute in New York City) and Camper & Nicholson commissioned them to build models of the Endeavour and Endeavour II for T. O. M. Sopwith that are in the club's collection. The hulls of these were actually built by Camper & Nicholson and then sent to Bassett-Lowke to be rigged and detailed prior to delivery at the NYYC. These models were exhibited in the UK Pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition in 1937. The model of Endeavour shows the large powerful rig that makes the J-boats so impressive. She has full deck and rig detail including the famous "Park Avenue" boom. The name Bassett-Lowke is still in existence today although it has been bought and sold several times. The great era of Basset-Lowke closed in 1965 when they closed the shop in Northampton for the last time. Bassett-Lowke and H. E. Boucher Mfg. Co. ran a parallel course during the period of 1905 through the 1940s. The demand for quality scale models, first as design tools then as a presentation pieces for owners of these tremendous yachts and ships, was enormous with each company employing over 100 workers at their peak. After World War II with the advancement of computers and the change over to peacetime economies there was less demand for recording these achievements. As these companies closed and the proprietors passed away much of the art and skill was relegated to history.

Model #789, built by Joseph Wheeler Appleton represents the culmination of J-class design with his model of Ranger, Commodore Harold Vanderbilt's unbeatable sloop. Mr. Appleton, who was not associated with any model-building firm, worked as an individual. In that capacity he could spend more time in building and detailing the models commissioned from him. Mr. Appleton built several (less than 10) half models for the NYYC collection as well as the full rigged presentation models of Bolero and Ranger. The model of Ranger is a masterpiece, no other models of any J-class yachts even come close in the quality of scale, detail and execution. The deck, which in previous yacht models was either scored or painted veneer with the deck planking inked in, is for the first time actually planked using a very fine-grained fruitwood.

After Mr. Boucher passed away his wife took over with the help of the accountant Mr. Lewis to continue the model building tradition, which had been laid down by her husband. The company evolved into Boucher-Lewis and built several of the twelve meter America's Cup models in the club's collection. Model #924 of Weatherly shows one of the Boucher-Lewis models. The quality and attention to detail remains the primary concern of the Boucher-Lewis. In all Boucher built over 90 half and full models for the NYYC. However the evolution of Boucher does not stop here. Vincent Castello, of Castello Ship Models, apprenticed with Boucher, and when Boucher-Lewis moved to the midwest Mr. Castello split off and started Castello Ship Models. Model #1083 of Boomerang shows Castello's clean and precise style. Mr. Castello developed several unique techniques. The most notable is the construction of spars from brass rod. This allows no flex in the mast when rigging the model and creates uniform tension. This represents almost 90 years of model making tradition through apprenticeship, models which are made the old fashioned way with attention to quality, materials and detail.

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