Considerations when buying a Model Ship
The art of model shipbuilding is as old as maritime history itself. For centuries, plans of proposed new vessels, submitted to the admiralty for approval, had to be accompanied by a fully detailed scale model.
Many of these shipyard or builders models still survive today; centuries after the original ship sank or ran aground on some distant shore. These models are displayed in maritime museums around the world as reminders of days gone by of men of steel with their ships of wood.
As this craft was handed down from generation to generation, model shipbuilding developed into an art that is still practiced today by professionals and hobbyists alike. Even though computer aided design and laser technology have found their way into model building, their application is limited. Ship Models are still meticulously handcrafted today as they were centuries ago.
Today there is a great demand for high, or better known as museum quality ship models to be used as objects d’ art in the decors of private homes, lounges, studies, executive offices, boardrooms, hotel foyers, restaurants etc.
Acquiring a good model ship through the Internet is no easy task. It is a minefield, to say the least. Every dealer or model builder, whether good or bad, classify their models as ‘Museum Quality’. A paper on the requirements for a ship model to be classified as ‘Museum Quality’ has been compiled and published by the Smithsonian Institution in conjunction with The Mariners Museum and Mystic Seaport Museum. Most of the models advertised on the Internet do not even remotely conform to these standards. Sadly I must conclude that the term “Museum Quality’ is very misleading and certainly not a hallmark of the quality of the ship model.
The only way to acquire a true Museum Quality ship model is to commission one directly from a reputable model builder. When you are working through an agent or dealer you can be assured that the price will be vastly inflated. Some of these dealers buy their models, that are mass-produced in places like China and Mauritius, for next to nothing and then add on exorbitant markups. At a glance these models might resemble a particular ship but they do not stand up to one minute of scrutiny. They are inaccurate and have no collectors’ value. A guarantee of lowest prices is also a guarantee of lowest quality.
At THE MODEL SHIPYARD the prices of our models are determined by the number of hours spent and materials used. This of course is governed by the size and complexity of the model. Though our models are not cheap, it is good value for money because you get exactly what you are paying for. No middleman and no inflated price.
Beware of imitations
There are a number of websites that claim to be dealing in STEPHENS & KENAU™ ship models. This is simply not true. When you visit these websites you will see that many of the photographs and text have been copied and pasted directly from our website, without our permission.
This is very sad because it took me a lifetime of research and development and they can simply steal it with a few keystrokes. On the other hand, I also feel flattered because the biggest compliment that you can pay someone is to copy him. I must be doing something right.
We are the only designers and builders of the STEPHENS & KENAU™ range of model ships in the entire world. The only way to acquire one of these model ships is to commission us directly to build it for you.
STEPHENS & KENAU™ models simply cannot be imitated. Apart from perfecting and improving the age-old techniques that have been handed down from generation to generation, we also employ a number of very unique techniques that have been developed by us over many years and are closely guarded secrets.
To me a ship model must not just resemble the original ship; it must be an exact miniature. Anybody can glue pieces of timber and string together and it might resemble a particular ship. But only a true artist who has a proper understanding of how these old ladies were actually built and sailed will be able to capture the magestic lines that these tall ships are so famous for. I always say "a model ship must have an attitude".
Seeing a STEPHENS & KENAU™ model in real life is a sight you will never forget. They are truly spectacular. Our attention to detail and scale never fails to amaze the spectator. Our models aren't just authentic in every detail but they are nautically correct as well.
Amongst our craftsmen are accountants, historians, teachers, carpenters, fine artists etc. We do not build models because we cannot earn a living any other way. We build models because we love it. The passion that we have for our craft can be seen in everyone of our models.
We love what we do, we are proud of what we do and we are good at what we do.
For more information also read the section ‘How do we do it’ on this website.
Money back Guarantee
Every STEPHENS & KENAU™ model comes with a money-back guarantee. If you are not entirely satisfied with the model you can return it to us for a refund. I offer this guarantee with confidence because not a single model has ever been returned in all the years that we have been in business.
We are also committed to deliver the model to you in mint condition wherever you are in the world.
We accept all major credit cards. Payment can also be by electronic bank transfer.
We take a 50% deposit on acceptance of the commission and the balance when the model is dispatched.
It is by exception that we have completed ship models for sale. We work mostly by commission. It takes between eight to ten weeks to complete a model. Transit time is five or six working days.
I might be able to help you if you want a ship model immediately. I can make one available to you from our gallery at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town or from my private collection .
Please indicate to me if you want the model delivered at a certain date in time for a birthday or any other event and we will work towards that.
When you inform us of your choice of model that you want to commission, we will email our pro-forma invoice to you. This you must print out, fill in your credit card details and fax it back to us. We will then acknowledge receipt, and our acceptance of the commission, and then it is ‘all systems go’.
We take a range of digital photos while the model is under construction for our records. If you like we can email these to you from time to time. To me a model under construction is as beautiful as a completed one.
While every effort will be made to keep you up to date with the progress of your model, you can contact us at any stage if you want an update. We always love to hear from our customers.
Registered and Certified
All models are registered in the names of the owners. A certificate of authenticity and registration is issued with every model.
We can supply you with the wooden frame for the glass display case, completely knocked down. This comes with a set of instructions, which gives you the exact sizes of the glass that you must order from your local glazier as well as a step-by-step instruction for assembling the case.
Please indicate to us if you want the frame and we will include it in our quote.
Packaging & Transport
We ship our models in specially designed crates. Many of our models have been shipped throughout the world in these, with great success. However, we do not take any chances. All models in transit are fully insured.
Please note that included in the prices are delivery by air CIF (Cost Insurance and Freight). This means that we airfreight the model to your nearest International Airport. We will supply you with a copy of the Air Waybill what gives you the name of the airline, flight numbers and time of arrival etc. This you can forward to a clearing agent at the airport who can arrange customs clearance and delivery to your address. If you do not have a clearing agent, we will supply with the contact details of a clearing agent at the airport.
Door-to-door delivery by courier is also available. Door-to-door delivery is very convenient but more expensive. Please indicate to us if you want to make use of this option and we will quote you accordingly.