Friday, September 9, 2016

Collections of Antique Pond Model Yacht Racing Boats

Mine sitting in my office
It all started about, I would guess 20+ years ago.  On the cover of the Pottery Barn catalog, there was a photo of a wooden sail boat sitting on top of a table in front of a window.  I remember it vividly.  It was so beautiful, so unique. If I remember, they came in 2 sizes, large and small.  Our house had 16' ceiling with large rooms, so everything had to be big!!! I bought it for Frank as a gift, even though it was so terribly expensive.
He loved it!!! And it started a conversation about wooden sail boats and their history.  We wanted to know as much as possible about them and were they toys or what?  Since I was born in Rhode Island and lived in Connecticut, we always had activities that involved the water.  Most of my relatives had small fishing/clamming boats on "ponds", either inlets from the ocean mixed with fresh and sea water; or fresh water ponds.  So when we took vacations back east, we would look for small pond boats.

via google
In the late 1880s - 1940s, the pond boats or model yacht racing as they were called, were a very popular sport.  
via google

via google
Most cities had a central "pond" area where people would walk, take carriage rides, play with their families.  Children and adults would bring their wooden boats/model yachts to sail in the ponds.
via google
Many of the boats were purchased or made to resemble the popular yachting boats at the time.  The yachts would race and the winning yaults would be made in miniature for adults and children.  The contests of model yacht sailing was in the skill of positioning the sails and rutter to move the fastest and to a specific point. Just like sailing, you need to know about winds and water.
We have always been avid "antiquing" people where we would plan vacations and travel around great antiquing spots.  Or if we just happen to be places, we would seek out antique shops.  And we lived in a antique mecca area, the Gold Rush towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City.  We always had at least 5+ antique stores downtown for more than 20 years.
My favorites happen to be ones that were not manufactured but made by either the child's father or by the person, himself.  The more stained the canvas or cotton sails were, the more I liked them.  It showed that the boats were used. Many would have stars on the top of the sail with the sailing vessel's number-or the full sized sail boats numbers. Same with the coloring of the boats.
So one new purchase for a birthday or holiday, led to a many year collection of mainly old ones.  Ebay was one of my favorite places to look, many years ago, because people didn't always know or care what they were, just wooden boats.  

Back East, sometimes you would see a Pond Boat that was over 5' tall, these boats came in various sizes.  See the photos of various sizes in a mariner museum above.
Here are some of our collection.
Small size probably for children
This one is hand made and has a flat bottom.
 A few of our boats needed some repairs of the masts or needed a stand.

This last boat was given to us a year or so ago by our UPS delivery guy.  We have becomes friends with him since Frank orders all his repair parts for the farm via Amazon!!!  He always noticed our pond boats in the windows.  He had attended a winery with his family and won this boat in a drawing.  He didn't really care about it and it was still in the box.  He thought we would like it so gave it to us.  The sail has the logo of the winery.  Of course, that bugs Frank and he wants me to make a sail to replace it.  Maybe some day.
PS-If you mind dust, then you shouldn't collect these boats.  They require dusting of the sails and all the riggings
post card via google


  1. Wishing everyone a beautiful late summer Saturday afternoon

  2. Wishing everyone a beautiful late summer Saturday afternoon



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