navy board models for current modelers

Architectural historians can generally count on occupying the position of holders of rather obscure but absolute hieratic authority within their field of study. Architects work as theurges, performatively shaping their universes, but for the most part not as theologians, guardians of esoteric knowledge and the traditions. It’s the architectural historians who guard the keys to their treasure cupboards of specialised language and wisdom. So they get to hold that Foucauldian power-knowledge close to their chests.

In maritime studies that position is divided between maritime historians (who have unquestioned authority over naval biography and record-keeping) and model boat builders. These last are the grognard wargamer technical conscience-bearers of shipbuilding history. Woe betide the earnest historian with his eye on the big, theoretical picture who trespasses on the Napoleonic battlefield, for there lurk in the redoubts platoons of men ready to cut him down for dressing his cuffs in the wrong stripe or carrying his musket wrongly. Those men yield grudging respect, though, to the boat builders, who truly know the mysteries of riders and trenails and chain wales. For in that world, there is no absolute authority, no book that’s better than fairly good and thorough, no item of knowledge that does not contain within it the seed of disgrace and shame, that cannot be trumped by another’s deeper understanding.

As an architectural historian doing ships, you can see that I’m a little worried about these guys.

So I’m glad to have found the Navy Board Models website. Which I hope may help me avoid the more egregious boners.


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