An exceptional fruit and boxwood carved and gilt 1:96 Scale Navy Board-Style Model Of The First Rate 100 Ship-Of-The-Line Britania (1682) with open frames below the ebony main wales, hinged gun port lids painted Venetian red internally, fully carved scheme including figurehead in the form of King Charles II dressed as a Roman warrior riding a horse, caryatids, wreathed gun ports on upper decks, lavishly worked stern and quarter galleries with mica glazing and lamps, internal carved and glazed galleries, deck steps and belfry, bound masts with hand-wound rigging assembled as in working practice and much other fine detailing, loosely mounted on polished kingwood base with carved and gilt dolphin supports and name plaque. Overall measurements including base -- 27 x 27in. (68.5 x 68.5cm.); carry box; data.
The original Navy Board model of Britannia is now located in the U.S. Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis. Modelled to a standard scale of 1:48, this model is twice the size of the example here offered. Apart from the scale, there are two other significant differences between them, firstly, the Annapolis model is un-rigged, although it's possible it may have once been rigged; Secondly, there are small variations in the carved work. Original models were often made for a particular person and so occasionally small, personal details were included which can sometimes help name an unknown vessel. The lines of this model were taken from the Annapolis model with the carved work derived from this model and also from original drawings and paintings by Van de Velde and Isaac Sailmaker held in the NMM - both accurate and contemporary sources, thus anomalies could be corrected making this probably the most accurate model of this ship ever produced.
Designed and built by Sir Phineas Pett at Chatham, Britannia was the only First Rate of the 1677 building programme ordered in response to the end of the third (and final) Dutch War in 1674. Pepys had in fact requested two First Rates in this programme, but defence cuts reduced this and plans for the other rates. Laid down in 1679, she initially measured 167ft 5in with a 47ft 4in beam and displaced 1,739 tons and carried a crew of 780. Launched three years later in 1680, it was not until 1690 that her full wartime armament was loaded aboard to face the French. Alas, she proved so unstable she was returned for emergency modifications basically comprising a thick girdling of fir, increasing her beam to 48ft 8in but which resulted in her being considered the best First Rate in the fleet. In 1692 she served as Lord Russell's flagship and pitched against the French flagship Soleil-Royale at the Battle of Barfleur. Both ships were badly mauled by the encounter, but Britannia was considered to have performed very ably and had resisted the French broadside. Outnumbered, the French retired from the battle and Britannia was never to see action again. By 1715 she was considered unseaworthy and sent for breaking, her frames being re-used for another namesake. She was considered one of the most beautiful ships of her day, a fact roundly endorsed by this attractive scale model.