Basic information about various hobby and craft topics.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Ship In A Bottle

The art of model ship building dates back many centuries. The Egyptians, Phoenicians and Greeks all
built model ships of varying sizes and shapes. Glass bottles have also been around for a long
time. Archeology indicates the Phoenicians had glass bottles, so they have also been around for
thousands of years, also.

It wasn’t until the mid-1850’s that glass technology advanced enough to give a reasonably clear,
bubble free bottle suitable for model building. Sailors at sea whiled away the long hours carving
and making many things and a high degree of skill was developed by many of these mariners. No one
knows who first put a model ship in a bottle, but it occurred sometime during the mid 19th century.

The sailors used available materials, scraps of wood, thread and sail. The common tool was the
jackknife most sailors carried. Usually the mariners modeled the ship they were on, or other ships
they were familiar with. These were built outside the bottle, carefully measured to ensure the
completed model would fit through the neck. The masts were folded down and rigged so that they
could be pulled up after the model was inserted into the bottle.

The ship in a bottle is a type of mechanical puzzle called an impossible bottle. It is called this
because items thought be impossible to fit inside a bottle are placed there, leaving the observer to
wonder how it came to be. Many types of items can be found in this traditional puzzle, including
decks of cards, tennis balls, scissors, and of course the ship in a bottle.

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