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Vincent P. Scott

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Vincent P. Scott

Newport News, Virginia

Published by e Mariners’ Museum Museum Drive Newport News, Virginia Copyright © e Mariners’ Museum

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the publisher. Printed in the United States of America Printed by Teagle & Little Creative Printing First published in Editor: Susannah Livingston Designer: Sara Johnston Model photography and jacket design concept: Jason Copes Typesetter: Jennifer Pattison Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication e Miniature Ships of August & Winnifred Crabtree / by Vincent P. Scott. p. cm. ISBN - ISBN - - Crabtree, August F. - Art collections. . Ship models. . e Mariners’ Museum (Newport News, VA) - Catalogs.

is book is dedicated to my wife, Dorothea R. Scott

Contents
Foreword Preface Acknowledgments xiii xv xvi

Part I:
Introduction A Promising Beginning e History Bu A Hungry Mind Crabtree Family History e Young Sculptor e Working World Preparing for Tools Materials Research Other Pursuits Finished at Last Finding His eme e Project

e Artists

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Hollywood Winnifred War e Honeymoon e Huntingtons e First Visit to More Travels Miami Back to e Mariners’ Museum e Mariners’ Museum

e Studio Home e Royal Yachts Outside Work At e Mariners’ Museum e Interpretive Tours e s

e Last Years: A Personal Reminiscence A Friend’s Tribute

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Part II:
Introduction e Project as Marine Art e Earliest Boats e Raft e Dugout e Egyptians e Egyptian Seagoing Vessel, e Phoenicians Carthage, Greece, and Rome e Ships of Ancient Rome e Roman Merchant Ship, circa e Pleasure Barges of Caligula e Fall of the Roman Empire e Vikings and eir Ships A.D. B.C.

e Project

William the Conqueror Mora, Flagship of William the Conqueror Gokstad and Oseberg

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e Renaissance Prince Henry the Navigator Christopher Columbus Santa María and Pinta, e Venetian Maritime Empire e Venetians’ Ships e Battle of Lepanto e Galleass Real e Venetian Galleass, circa e Gondola e Gondola of Doge Francesco Morisini, e East India Companies England and the British East India Company e Netherlands and the Dutch East India Company e Dutch Royal Yacht, e “Uninvited Guest” e English Royal Yacht, circa Origins of Modern Racing Charles II and the Royal Navy

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e English

-Gun Ship, circa

e Galleys of the Mediterranean Louis XIV of France e Corps des Galères e French Royal Galley, circa British East Indiamen e British East Indiaman, circa Colonial America e American Armed Brig, circa e Advent of Steam Sir Samuel Cunard RMS Britannia, Conclusion e Crabtrees’ Legacy Bibliography August Crabtree’s Favorite Boyhood Books

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The Miniature Ships of August

Winnifred Crabtree

Foreword
In the dozen or so years of my association with e Mariners’ Museum, one thing remains constant when I meet people who have visited the Museum. “Oh,” they say, “You have that wonderful collection of ship models!” And although the name “Crabtree” may not be on their lips, I know exactly which collection they have in mind— e Miniature Ships of August and Winnifred Crabtree. Indeed, if there is one Mariners’ Museum collection that, more than any other, represents what a maritime museum can be, it is this world-class collection of miniature masterpieces created between the s and the s. Sadly, I never had the honor and pleasure of meeting August Crabtree, much less hearing him talk about his beloved ships. As a lover of things maritime and as one who is awed by those who so beautifully combine art, craftsmanship, and deep historical knowledge, I know that this is my great loss. I did know August’s widow, Winnifred, for a couple of years before her death, and what she told me about her late husband and their life together was inspiring and fascinating. rough their partnership and their tireless work, they ful lled August’s lifelong dream of a collection of thoroughly researched and historically accurate miniatures that trace the evolution of ships from ancient Egypt to the middle of the th century. In creating these masterpieces—and in choosing e Mariners’ Museum as the collection’s home—they have given untold thousands an opportunity to see true genius. No wonder so many people who visited e Mariners’ many, many years ago still remember the Crabtree miniatures with clarity and fondness. Now, the person who was closest to August and Winnifred during their years in Newport News, and who has served as a docent and guide for the Crabtree gallery, has put pen to paper. In both this book and the accompanying virtual exhibition, Vincent Scott has neatly combined a wealth of historical information with anecdotes of these two wonderful people and their amazing collection. Vince is a storyteller of the rst order. His knowledge is encyclopedic. With his beautiful late wife, Dottie, he led countless people through the exhibition and thus carried on the tradition established by August Crabtree himself—namely, a guided tour of the collection every Sunday at : p.m. Vince and Dottie picked up the torch, and I am certain that the Crabtrees’ voices come through in this lively manuscript. In this age of new technologies and new challenges for museums, I am very excited about this product, for it goes to the heart of what museums do: inspire, delight, and educate visitors by presenting collections through the eyes of the dedicated sta members, volunteers, and

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Winnifred Crabtree

docents who know the collections best. is publication accompanies a new online version of the Crabtree collection, a project funded generously by e Bronze Door Society of e Mariners’ Museum. e miniature ships of August and Winnifred Crabtree will now and forever be available to the countless people who visit e Mariners’ Museum actually and virtually. Everyone who has already seen the collection is indebted to the Crabtrees. Now even more people will join those ranks, thanks to Vince Scott’s engaging and informative book. Enjoy this wonderful product and this amazing collection. —William B. Cogar, President and CEO, e Mariners’ Museum

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Winnifred Crabtree

Preface
The reward of a thing well done is to have done it. —Ralph Waldo Emerson ( – ), American philosopher and essayist I decided to write this book after August and Winnifred Crabtree passed away leaving no known family survivors. It has been my goal to get all of it right. August set a similar goal when he began “ e Project.” I hope that this book will help de ne and preserve the Crabtrees’ legacy for many years to come. August and Winnifred Crabtree earned the title “artists” the hard way: they earned it from scratch. August studied academic accounts of the many facets of marine art and technology and, with Winnifred’s unwavering help, raised each facet to a new artistic level. e couple’s artistry places them among the very best in all elds of marine art. Visitors to e Mariners’ Museum, whether landlubbers, experienced ship modelers, or old salts, are awestruck by the beauty and intricate detail of the Crabtrees’ miniature ships, which relate the story of the evolution of water transport from raft to steam power. “Such patience!” many visitors comment. To the contrary, August Crabtree was the most impatient man I ever met. “What a hobby!” others exclaim. But these models represent not a man’s pleasant diversion but rather a lifetime of concerted work toward a well-de ned goal. ey are, in fact, not models, but miniature ships—the exquisite work of a self-taught, self-made genius and his artistic and dedicated spouse. Part I of this book follows the fascinating life story of the Crabtrees. Part II traces humanity’s ages-old struggle to meet the challenges of the sea and o ers a look at the technology of the historical period of each of the miniature ships. e Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia, is extremely fortunate to have been chosen by the Crabtrees as the permanent home for their miniature ships, which are both architecturally accurate models and masterpieces of art. Unlike most maritime museums, e Mariners’ Museum is international in its mission “to preserve the culture of the sea,” and is therefore the perfect permanent home for the Crabtrees’ incomparable work. As the English poet T.S. Eliot wrote, “ e sea is all about us.” e miniature ships of August and Winnifred Crabtree—the matchless legacy of two uncompromising artists—eloquently tell the story of humankind’s relationship with the sea. —Vincent P. Scott

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Winnifred Crabtree

Acknowledgments
I was moved to write this book following the passing of August Crabtree in . I was inspired to learn more of his work, to study in depth his research sources, and to study the craft of woodworking. Earlier conversations with “Augie” helped me to formulate my learning goals. I began to assemble a workbook that I now call my “script-ship.” e “script-ship” has taken longer to build than the most elaborate of the Crabtree masterpieces, the Venetian Galleass. To write a biographical and historical narrative like this one would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of many people in the know. I must express my gratitude: To the late Harold Scott Sni en, curator emeritus and dear friend. Harold was the rst to welcome the Crabtrees aboard and to promote their permanent gallery at e Mariners’ Museum. To e Mariners’ Museum sta for their invaluable expertise and assistance in making this project possible. To selective national and local publications of the last half-century, including National Geographic, Great Museums of the World, Ensign, the journals of the Nautical Research Guild, Soundings, Portfolio, and others. eir feature stories and reviews of the Crabtree miniature ships have helped my e orts. To Lawrence Maddry of e Virginian-Pilot and Ledger Star and to Mark St. John Erickson of the Daily Press. rough many articles, Larry and Mark have expressed their admiration for the skill and genius of the Crabtrees’ work, “the jewels in the crown of e Mariners’ Museum.” To Colonel Charles M. Parkins, executive director of the Garibaldi Museum near Astoria, Oregon. Surely it was more than coincidence that brought Colonel Parkins to visit the Crabtree miniature ships in January . Colonel Parkins arrived in a wheelchair escorted by his daughter Cheryl and son-in-law Warren Evans of Richmond, Virginia. Our lengthy conversations, then and later, led to the following reference sources, which supported Part I of this book. To Kathy Klinger, researcher at the Clark County Museum, Vancouver, Washington. Kathy provided details of the shipyard where August worked shortly after World War I.

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To Captain Warren Anney, historian of the Oregon National Guard. Captain Anney provided details about the Guard during August Crabtree’s tour of duty in the early s. To Shawna Gandy, research archivist at the Oregon Historical Society, Portland. Shawna dug deep into the archives and provided me with information about August’s grandparents and their life in Oregon, and his father’s work in Portland. Shawna also provided details of the operations of the Standifer and Kaiser shipyards, where August also worked. Best of all, Shawna steered my script-ship eastward on the Oregon Trail, through the Cumberland Gap and on to Lee County, Virginia, the birthplace of August’s grandparents. Special thanks to Shawna and to her good friend the Colonel. To my daughter, R.C. Scott, professional writer. Rosanne has been my writing tutor, advisor, proofreader, and critic. With help from her husband, Jack Crawford, she has excavated many sources for my references. To my dear departed Dorothea. She was my principal proofreader, prompter, and pundit through years of wedded bliss. Together we served e Mariners’ Museum as volunteer docents for years. Dottie’s inspirational assistance navigated me through this book. en and only then, in the words of Tennyson, “God’s nger touched her and she slept.” I “hand-crafted” the original manuscript for this book in tribute to the hand-crafting skills of August and Winnifred Crabtree, and also because I can’t type. Of course it had to be “digitized” to the modern format, and Justin Lyons, director of marketing and public relations, and Marge Shelton, assistant to the president and CEO of e Mariners’ Museum, readily volunteered that service. I am deeply grateful to Justin and Marge for this. All photographs appear courtesy of —Vincent P. Scott e Mariners’ Museum.

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Part I: The Artists
Genius begins great works, labor alone finishes them. —Joseph Joubert ( – ), French moralist

Introduction
What manner of man was August Crabtree, who, with his talented wife, created these masterpieces and elevated maritime art to new heights? To know an artist’s background and life experience brings a better understanding and appreciation of his or her craftsmanship. To date, only a scantling of the Crabtrees’ life experiences has appeared in publications. at was what August wanted. e purpose of Part I is to discover from whence came this rare talent and his lust for ships and the sea. e following pages trace the events and stories that in uenced August and Winnifred’s work. Much of the information in Part I came directly from the Crabtrees themselves and was passed on to me during our many pleasant conversations. After August’s passing, Winnifred blessed my use of quotes from our conversations and from Crabtree correspondence. August’s recollections and my research on his life and work have also been supported with information from other individuals noted in the Acknowledgments. In August wrote a short autobiography on the envelope of a RPM record. It appears to be a summary response to the many personal questions he had ignored over the years. A few quotes from the autobiography appear in the following pages. ( e document, which was wrapped around the tube of a roll of paper towels, is now in the archives of e Mariners’ Museum Library at Christopher Newport University.) August once said, “Never set aside a challenge, ever.” at advice has been a great help. —Vincent P. Scott

A Promising Beginning
August Crabtree said his mother told him he talked before he walked. According to a relative, he spoke well at age two—even words he did not understand. August attributed his verbal skills to the songs and ballads his mother and sister had sung to him.

The Miniature Ships of August

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When August was three years old his father, Fletcher Crabtree, bought him a primer so he could learn the alphabet. e boy sketched the letters and soon memorized them. Fletcher taught his son to read, scanning the words in newsprint and books with his nger. August mimicked his father’s pronunciation, smiling as he went. He had exceptional eyesight—an important factor in his later career. One day all those words came together and he began reading whole sentences with ease. When his Uncle Frank came to visit, he always brought him some books. “Kid stu ,” August would say with a grateful smile for Uncle Frank, the County Clerk of nearby Linn County, Oregon. From the “kid stu ” books, August began to re-create the pictures he liked with pencil on paper. Later he created his own images and added color with paint. He also collected small scraps of wood left over from his father’s occasional carpentry work. He assembled various shapes and sizes of the scrap wood to see what images he could create. “Every child is an artist,” wrote Pablo Picasso, “the problem is to remain an artist once he grows up.” August Crabtree met the challenge.

The History Buff
He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever. —Chinese Proverb A ve-year-old boy was seated at his favorite spot on the bank of the Columbia River near his home in Portland, Oregon. Alone as usual, he was enjoying his new pastime—whittling a scrap of wood with his most precious possession, a pocketknife. Suddenly a sailing ship, a wooden bark carrying lumber, appeared in the distance. e boy waved excitedly to the crew as the ship passed by. e crew waved back. e lad wondered: Where are the ships going? Where did they come from? e boy also knew that in the springtime, thousands of sh swam up the Columbia River. Where did they come from, and where are they going, he wondered. He would ask his best and dearest friend, his father.

The Miniature Ships of August

Winnifred Crabtree

August hurried home to greet his father with those questions. He always had questions. His wife, Winnifred, later said, “His rst words must have been questions.” After-dinner get-togethers—an old Scottish custom—were routine in the Crabtree household. August’s mother and sister would retire to the sewing room to practice crafts, especially quilting. August and his father would go to the backyard for some basics in carpentry and gardening and a bit of fun. On this particular day, sensing August’s questions, Fletcher took him to the front porch for a lesson in history. “Where are those sailing ships and all those sh going?” August asked. “We will go there on the morrow and see,” his father replied. “But now I will tell you the story of the Great River of the West and you will know.” August was in awe as he sat on the oor with his legs crossed, listening intently. August learned that Captain Robert Gray discovered the Great River of the West in . Gray named his discovery Columbia’s River in honor of his ship, Columbia Rediviva. Sailing rst from Boston in , Gray made two three-year circumnavigations of the globe, seeking new trading ports throughout the world for the new and rapidly growing United States of America. August learned that from British Columbia, the Columbia River ows southwest, then turns west for miles, serving as the northern boundary of the state of Oregon. e Columbia is rich in sh, especially salmon, which ascend the river each year to spawn in great schools. At the con uence with its northward- owing tributary, the Willamette River, the Columbia begins its role as an estuary, i.e., the part of the lower course of a river in which the river’s current meets the sea’s tide. It is a wide and winding deep-channel estuary owing northwest for miles to the Paci c Ocean. Accessible to ocean vessels of sail and steam, the con uence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers became an inland trade center, aided by the great Gold Rush of . Two New England developers surveyed the trade center and mapped a town, and the city of Portland in the Oregon Territory was chartered in . e developers named the city after their hometown of Portland, Maine. Fletcher Crabtree well knew the history of Portland and its environs. He had learned much from his own father by oral family history, as August would learn. (More about that history later in Part I.) And Fletcher’s work kept him abreast of local industry. He worked rst as a watchman for the old Ainsworth Docks, then as a clerk for the Southern Paci c Railroad, and later as a clerk for the Northern Paci c Terminal Railroad. He pursued some evening schooling, and in he

The Miniature Ships of August

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became a telegraph operator for the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company. In he joined the Western Union Telegraph Company. Fletcher and his wife, Mollie, moved their homestead ve times to accommodate his job changes. Portland became the grand terminal for lumber, grains, sheep, cattle, and metals tra cked over the Columbia River Valley by rail and sail. Mills and processing plants were established in Portland and along the Columbia River Estuary. By (the year of August’s rst history lesson), there were miles of waterfront, four miles of docks, and two major rail freight lines. Sailing ships were the prime movers of lumber and grain, for they could easily anchor anywhere along the Columbia. e wind, free and clean, was favorable for sailing vessels all along the Great River of the West. August enjoyed his history lesson, but his mind was set on nding the answer to his second question: “Where are the sailing ships going?” Fletcher made arrangements with one of his engineer friends so that he and August could ride in the locomotive the next day. eir route included the rail line that nearly paralleled the Columbia River. Early that next morning a loud voice called “All Aboard!” Anxiously August climbed onto the train and sat beside his proud and smiling father. With a toot-toot and pu s of steam and smoke, the locomotive tugged and pulled a long train of railroad cars. e train had to move slowly along Portland’s busy waterfront. To the right August could see the sailing ships on the river. He waved and cheered. e slow pace of the train gave Fletcher a chance to explain what was going on in some of the many buildings along the way. He pointed out a cannery, a our mill, a meat processing plant, and a lumber mill. When the locomotive had passed the last building on the Portland waterfront, August pointed across the river. “ at’s Vancouver in the state of Washington,” said his father. August would later work as a shipwright’s apprentice at the shipyard in Vancouver. e train headed northwest at moderate speed. August waved and cheered at every sailing bark and schooner. ere were steamships on the river, too, making smoke and noise like the locomotives. ey did not impress August, though he dared not tell his father. “We’re bound for Astoria,” said Fletcher. “We’ll be there in about two hours.” Eighty miles northwest of Portland, Astoria was founded as a fur-trading center in by nancier John Jacob Astor and was named in his honor. Today it is the principal northwest coastal port for heavy trade.

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Fletcher concluded his lesson on the history of Astoria as the train approached the outskirts. After a tour of the train terminal, father and son walked to the shore. It was a bright and sunny afternoon on the beach. August was awestruck as he stared at the place where the sky touched the water. “ at’s called the horizon, son,” said his father. “What’s on the other side? ” “More horizons,” his father answered. Father and son waded along the beach. ere were conversations about blue water, waves, and horizons. It was a long and tiring day, but fun and full of learning. e next day, after helping his mother with a few chores, August slipped away to his favorite spot on the Columbia. He waved to the passing ships as always, but this time, he knew where they were going. A history bu had emerged.

A Hungry Mind
We woodthatportray maritime history in of The dimensions, inof August & Winnifred Crabtree by Vincent P. in hope to you have enjoyed this preview three Miniature Ships miniature. In his young adult years, Scott. The appreciation of will be available for purchase on December given him August gained a deepfull electronic bookthe early history lessons his father had15, 2010. as he

History became the background and the inspiration for August’s chosen profession—sculpting

experienced life on the Columbia River and its environs. In fact, he often said, “I lived it over and over again.” August the history bu stood academically at the head of his class in elementary school. He was a good athlete and took part in some after-school games, but he preferred the banks of the Columbia—and the library. An avid reader, he had discovered the reading room of the branch of the Library Association of Portland, near his home. His early favorites were Call of the Wild by Jack London and Typhoon by Joseph Conrad. August was intrigued when the librarian told him about the authors’ lives. Jack London had sought adventure as a crewman on sailing and shing vessels. Joseph Conrad, born in the Ukraine, had served as ship’s mate and master on several commercial sailing vessels. Both authors had included their personal experiences in their novels. One day August asked the librarian for a book on ships. She handed him a book on ship models, and he studied it intently. Noting his curiosity, the librarian showed him prints of paintings by the