In addition to being a world-renowned museum curator, historian and author, Howard I. Chapelle must have been a draftsman extraordinaire! Scores of his
drawings grace his many books, and they are available, full-size, from the Smithsonian Institution for a very reasonable fee. The shop has a 39 foot by 14 foot open space. It didn’t take a lot of research to match one of Chapelle’s drawings to the space limitations of the shop. Lion is Plate I in “The American Fishing Schooners,” (Howard I. Chapelle, W. W. Norton & Co, Inc, 1973)
In both “Schooners” and in “The National Watercraft Collection” (Chapelle, United States Government Printing Office, 1960), a very old fisherman-built model is described, designated Model # 19398 . Chapelle based his drawing of Lion on this model, supplemented by information from contemporary Custom House records. I had the privilege of seeing the Institution’s model in person.
The pages from “The National Watercraft Collection” which describe the Institution’s Model # 39198 provide much information about Lion‘s pedigree (see pp. 164-166 and 179-181.) Chapelle also gives a prominent narrative description of the model and vessel in “The American Fishing Schooners.” In both accounts, Chebacco boats represented by the model are described as fast and very seaworthy.
During my pre-arranged visit to a Smithsonian warehouse in 2009 where the model was stored, I was allowed to take pictures, a few of which are included in the gallery below.
At least two other models of Lion exist: one by well known model maker and historian Erik A. R. Ronnberg, Jr; and another by James Shoesmith which is now part of Mystic Seaport‘s collection. I was able to see Shoesmith’s model located in the Seaport’s storage facility. The Seaport also graciously provided a few excellent pictures of their model, which I have included below.
These models have all been inspirational for this project.
(NOTE: For latest work on the boat, check the Planking page.)
Click on any photo to enlarge and scroll through the gallery.
Comments on either the website or the boat will be greatly appreciated. You can contact me (Mike Danesi) at firstname.lastname@example.org.