Ship model in display case, Elizabethan galleon, 'Revenge', wood / metal / glass, made by Frank H Lee, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1930
Although the source of the plans for the ship model "Revenge" is unknown, it may be surmised that they were obtained from an American magazine such as "Popular Science Monthly". In 1933 they printed, over several editions, plans for the "Revenge" and blue prints could be obtained by mail. Other model ship retailers advertised blueprints and components in these same magazines and the "Revenge" appears to have been a popular model at the time. It should be noted that this model was completed by 1932 and was thus not built using the serialised plans.
Many hobbyist ship model builders of the period relied on these published plans or the blueprints available through the publications to construct their models rather than carry out independent research or "free form" models. The modeller was then able to decide, within the latitude of the plans, to apply more detail or less, depending on their purpose and knowledge.
The modeller of the "Revenge", Mr Frank H Lee, appears to have been a prolific ship modeller. He seems to have constructed the models for his own enjoyment rather than for sale as many modellers did in this period. During the Depression modeller's skill provided a source of income for some. Mr Lee's daughter observed that he built and dismantled many ship models.
The "Revenge" model is based on the real original built either at Deptford or Woolwich in England in 1577. Under the command of Sir Francis Drake it took part successfully in the battle against the Spanish Armada although its greatest fame was achieved under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Grenville in the Battle off Flores in the Azores. Alone the "Revenge" took on a Spanish squadron of 53 ships and fought them for a day and night before being forced to surrender. The newly conquered "Revenge", sailed by a Spanish prize crew, sank, in 1591, with the loss of all hands in a storm before it could reach a safe haven. The epic battle was immortalised by Alfred Lord Tennyson in his poem "A Ballad of the Fleet".
Despite its fame little is known of the details of the "Revenge". Models have been made using the few known facts, information derived from typical English galleons of the time and from the notes left by Matthew Baker, the Queen's Master Shipwright at the time, in the Pepysian Library.
The English galleons were smaller and lower than the Spanish. According to Drake the "Revenge" was fast and 'handy' and he considered it a masterpiece of naval construction. In a general sense it shows the advances of British shipwrights over their European colleagues which was to continue and create the reputation of England as a great maritime nation despite the small size of the British Isles. This reputation lasted, at least, until the end of World War II.
The ship model was placed on loan "...for an indefinite period..." with the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in late February 1932 by the maker, Mr Frank H Lee. The loan was collected by Mr [Ernie] Crome from Mr Lee and transported to the Museum. The loan number for the model was L333. The model was subsequently donated to the Museum.