Sovereign of the Seas (Restoration)

Earlier this year, we were tasked with a rather complicated restoration order involving a severely damaged Sovereign of the Seas model.

The model had sustained critical damage to the three masts and stand, with a couple having completely collapsed. It had lost a number of components such as rigging pieces, and the paintwork was chipped and worn.

In real life, the Sovereign of the Seas was a 17th Century warship belonging to the English Navy, and she was armed with 102 bronze guns. Perhaps its most notable feature was the ornately gilded stern ordered by King Charles I. Enemy ships knew her as the ‘Golden Devil’ because of this feature.

Sovereign of the Seas served in a number of battles throughout its 60-year lifetime, before accidentally being burnt down in 1697, when a member of the crew on night watch left a candle unattended. He subsequently confessed his error, and was court-martialled, flogged publicly and then imprisoned for life.

This model is a beautifully intricate counterpart of the historical vessel, and it was such a pleasure to be able to restore it to its former glory.

This project was completed on behalf of a private client, and so not much can be said about them individually.

They were, however, thoroughly impressed by the levels of communication displayed throughout the entire restoration process, and were over the moon with the end result. It was very satisfying for us to be able to rejuvenate such a fantastic model. Now they are able to proudly display this Sovereign of the Seas model wherever they may please.

All restoration projects require significant communication before, during and even after the process. Our model restorer initially converses with the client and our team, making sure all their requirements are achievable within a given budget.

We then discuss the numerous tools and methods that’ll be used, with special attention to older and more delicate models that demand extra care and precision. Rigging, in particular, can be quite tricky due to its complexity.

In this instance, the most difficult and significant elements were the collapsed rigging and masts, which were pretty much destroyed altogether. However, our specialised restorer completed the work to an exceptional degree of quality.

As mentioned above, the preliminary stages of a restoration project entail close dialogue between our team, the client and our specialist restorer. This allows everybody to ensure the client’s vision and expectations are clear, while also establishing realistic and a satisfactory timeline and budget for all parties involved.

At the earliest opportunity, a first draft of an invoice is prepared for the client, allowing everyone to work to schedule within a defined budget. If they’re happy with everything, work can officially begin.

Our restorer will typically start with bigger parts of a model such as the hull and the rigging; the masts being the example for this particular project. He will then buff out any scratches and paint over where necessary, ensuring the precise paint colour is used to match.

Following this, he will delicately replace and/or repair any smaller details, such as rigging points and little bits of the gilded stern. This is usually the most tedious part, but our restorer carries these tasks out with ease, and this instance was no different; it was done brilliantly.

Finishing touches normally include any larger accessories, in this case the reattachment of the lifeboats and tidying up the rigging so it was a bit less cluttered.

A key change that was made was the installation of a brand-new glass display case. It was a tasteful and minimalistic one, so as not to take the focus away from the grandeur of the model itself. The case ensures the long-term protection of the model from scratches, dust and general wear-and-tear, allowing it to retain its fantastic quality for much longer than usual.

This project was completed on schedule, within the agreed budget, and to an outstanding level of quality. Everyone involved was extremely satisfied: we were pleased with both the work and the process, and the client was ecstatic with the enhanced quality of their model.

Restoration projects are always a joy, as they rejuvenate old, damaged models, returning them to their original splendour.

Working on the Sovereign of the Seas model was particularly gratifying due to its historical importance to the British Royal Navy. We eagerly look forward to our next restoration endeavour!

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After Restoration:

Before Restoration: