Exceptionally rare and important ‘Builders Cased Half Model of the United Sates Navy Corvette Class “Quinnebaug” ‘ (1878-1891). At the center of a carved decoration below the hull is an engraved brass plaque which states “U.S.S. Quinnebaug. US Navy Yard. League Is. PA 1878.” The model is of the finest professional grade and was probably built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, circa 1878. The model shows the starboard side of the hull which is painted black above the waterline and copper below. Below the snub bowsprit are elaborate carved and gold painted trailboards leading up to the scrolled billet head. An applied keel wraps the hull. At the stern, there is a swell which accommodates the interior drive shaft. There is an opening in the hull for the large brass propeller which shows 3 of its 4 blades. Behind the propeller is a finely detailed rudder and rudder post. At the top of the hull at the bow and stern are raised scribed planked decks. Applied to the decks and backboard are metal funnels, pin rails, snub masts, skylights, etc.. The stern quarter gallery projects from the hull and has a carved scalloped pattern above the 6 carved window. Four of the windows have shutters and the remaining 2 are painted to look like glass. Stretching from the bow to the stern are eight metal gun ports that hinge up and down with a hole at the center for a cannon barrel. Hanging from the stern on davits is a half white painted lifeboat. The lower gun deck also has scribed planking with applied metal steam stack funnels, snub mast and pin rails. Along the side of the hull are applied chain plates and deadeyes to support standing rigging for the masts. There are a few lifeboat davits and portholes applied along the length of the hull. Near the center of the hull are steps leading up to an opening for boarding the vessel and this opening is flanked with a pair of gangway boards.
A very rare feature of this model is its elaborately designed and carved mahogany backboard which is applied to the back of the inside of the case. The model’s backboard is deeply carved with serpentine molding which covers most of the rear. Below the top serpentine molding following the molding line are 24 carved and applied five pointed stars and on opposite ends one additional applied star is mounted below the corner stars, making 26 stars in total. The carved serpentine molding continues around the entire border of the hull. At the lower section of the molding is a thin applied border that increases on opposite sides with large deeply carved acanthus leaf carvings. Along the bottom of the hull are long raised carved fern like leaves that run from the corners to the center of the hull where they scroll as a space with a up and down facing carved fleur-de-lis design. The model retains its original glazed case with rounded front supports which have a carved “Eastlake" design, typical of the late 1870s. The top molding of the case has an engraved like border and the base of the case has a fancy raised and carved molding. Both these moldings wrap all three sides of the case.
Condition: The surface of the hull is in untouched original condition and has a gentle craquelure finish. All of the interior moldings and stars are in excellent untouched condition. All of the applied metal fittings have a natural aged patina and a few of the parts that had come loose have been reapplied. The rear right case corner has been re-glued and the front glass plate has been replaced. Some old white house paint was on the sides of the case and that paint has been removed.
Dimensions of case: H: 21 1/2 in. W: 84 1/4 in. D: 9 1/2 in.
Note: The Quinnebaug was launched by the U.S. Navy in 1875 but not commissioned until 1878. Built by Neafie & Leavy at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the warship was fitted out at Norfolk, Virginia. In January 1879, the Quinnebaug sailed to Gibralter with 212 officers and enlisted men aboard under Commander Norman H. Farquhar. For a decade the Quinnebaug served the European Station- regularly visiting European, African and Mediterranean Seaports. She got underway January 1879 and reached Gibraltar February 2nd to begin a decade of service on the European Station, interrupted only by a brief visit home in the summer of 1881. During this service she operated for the most part in the Mediterranean, steaming from the straits to the Levant and visiting numerous ports along both the European and African coasts of that ancient sea and center of culture. She also usually made an annual cruise along the Atlantic Coast of Europe visiting ports in Spain, Portugal, France, England, Denmark and Germany. Departing Gibraltar May 9, 1889, Quinnebaug returned to the New York Navy Yard June17, 1889. In New York she was decommissioned July 3, was struck from the Navy List November 21, 1889 and was sold March 25, 1891.