Ship Model of H.M.S. Caesar 4th

This rigged model was made in the early 19th century of ivory, bone and whale baleen by a French Napoleonic seaman imprisoned in England. The hull is built of planks fastened by rivets and bears brass cannon, which are fitted with a device enabling them to be run in and out. This mechanism is indicative of earlier models made during the Napoleonic Wars.
HMS Caesar 4th was launched in 1793 and measured 181 feet in length and 1,991 tons. Though originally ordered as a 74-gun boat, Caesar carried 80 guns. The ship participated in several naval battles during the Napoleonic Wars, including Lord Howe’s victory over the French on June 1, 1794, the first naval engagement of the French Revolution, or the Glorious First Day of June. Caesar captain Anthony James faced court martial after the battle, accused of not doing his best to pass through the enemy line on May 29 and failing to take up his proper station on June 1. He was dismissed. In 1803 Caesar underwent repairs in Plymouth, and continued to fight through 1809. After 1814, it was used in an Army depot at Plymouth and was broken up in 1821 after a long and illustrious career.
Currently not on view
date made
Physical Description
bone (overall material)
ivory (overall material)
overall: 22 in x 30 1/4 in x 12 1/4 in; 55.88 cm x 76.835 cm x 31.115 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
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Work and Industry: Maritime
Data Source
National Museum of American History


Fascinating! My husband's ancestor, John Snell was a young sailor on the Caesar. We have an original letter from June 28, 1795 written by him when the Caesar was docked in Spithead. He complains of waiting around in port because the captain is on trial and mentions the name Capt. Nugent as his new commander. If you would like a transcript or photocopy, let me know.

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