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Double Watch Stand with British or French Two-decker 74 Gun Warship

Double Watch Stand with British or French Two-decker 74 Gun Warship, 1795-1815
Prisoner of War Model and Stand
Great Britain, probably made by French sailors
bone, wood, paper, ink, watercolour, brass, straw, hand-tinted prints
ivory stand: 53.0 x 34.0 x 25.0 cm; model: 17.0 x 22.0 x 7.0 cm
The Thomson Collection © Art Gallery of Ontario

The Thomson Collection of Ship Models Audio Tour

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Download: 1:47 min / 716 KB MP3

Simon Stephens: This is actually a unique and special object in the collection. It is sort of a watch stand. So basically a gentleman would have fob watches which he would take with him. When he arrived home, he would then put them into the watch stand so that he could use them as a clock so to speak.

It is very ornate, mostly carved in bone with foil inlay painted gold, and then at the bottom of the watch stand you have got these lovely drawers that pull out. The amazing thing there is, because they have been closed for probably most of their life, you have still got the original colors of the lovely straw inlay that is in the drawer linings, the beautiful colors, different colors as well, which is interesting.

Obviously is it difficult not to miss the ship model that is mounted in this case below the watch stand and above the drawers. It is a lovely little model of a two-decker, 80 gun warship, again, of both British and French origin, rigged, fully rigged on a baseboard.

It is interesting to note that with objects of this complexity it would have certainly been a team effort. You would obviously have one team making the ship model itself. There would be someone who would be carving the bone work, which a lot of it is fretted, cut out with a saw.

And then it is backed with gold paper. Then you would have someone who design and carve the actual watch stands themselves above the actual case. There would also be someone employed to do the actual wooden carcass.

Looking at the drawers and the way they move, they are very precise and sharp. So someone was obviously skilled at making a piece of furniture whereby the drawers were sharp, and straight, and fitted very well. It probably would have involved people with several skills, such as cabinet makers, carvers, and model makers.

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