Model boats stir up poignant childhood memories...

This pond yacht is on sale at GB Antiques Centre for 75 pounds
This pond yacht is on sale at GB Antiques Centre for 75 pounds
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Our antiques expert, Allan Blackburn, takes a look at some marine collectables.

This weekend is Father’s Day and whilst a happy time for a lot of families, it can be poignant and sad for those whose fathers have passed away. When I was young, I spent hours upon hours with my grandfather shopping for antiques, but when I think of Father and Son time, activities with my dad were gentler, and involved lots of outdoor pastimes. I may have rose-tinted glasses on, but we were happy with simple pleasures. This yacht reminds me of those happy and (dare I say) simpler times.

Our fascination with the sea means there are a multitude of items associated with yachting and marine collectables, including model boats.

Despite being intricately crafted with painstaking attention to detail, these may not be as valuable as one might think. A magnificent wooden model yacht made in the early 20th century may be worth less than £200 even in good condition. The most valuable models are those duplicating prototype ship designs, built to scale, with working parts (like steering wheels) and extra details like glass portholes. This pond yacht is typical of a model of this kind and is in quite good condition considering the many visits to the pond by father and son!

The earliest records of organised model yachting date from the middle 1800s in Great Britain. The boats were small, such as the 22" hull. By the 1860s there were occasional international contests between model yachtsmen in Great Britain and those in the United States.

The first model yacht, the St Andrew, dates from this time, at the Edinburgh and Leith Model Yacht Club. These first intricate designs can be thought of as working scale models rather than the specialised competition machines they were to become later.

In 1905-6 William John Daniels designed the 10-rater boat in 1905-6, with a new hull system. This boat is immensely important in the history of model yachting, winning the Coronation Cup and other major London competitions in the 1906 season. As the days of ocean travel and toy yachts recede farther in to the past, we become more nostalgic about boats, ships and yachts.

Changes in the way we travel and the demise of the ship-building industry will only make marine collectables even more attractive, so keep a lookout for ‘ship ahoy’!