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"Looking for rigging advice here...." Topic

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08 Jul 2020 2:22 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Comments or corrections?

Anton Ryzbak01 Jul 2020 6:57 p.m. PST

It has come to my attention that at some point between 1500 and 1800 standing rigging began to tarred black. Prior to that it seems that it was left untarred and was the same color (or thereabouts) as the running rigging. If anybody knows when the changeover began please advise. I am building fleets aimed at the period 1620-1650 and would like to get ahead of this rather than having to try to paint the ratlines and such after I have rigged the models.

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Jul 2020 10:58 p.m. PST

If you are trying to create fine scale models of the ships in question, then it matters whether the standing rigging was tarred or not. If, on the other hand, you are trying to create models that look like what the people present would have seen, then all the rigging can be black since it would have all appeared dark from a distance. Look at paintings from the period in question, and you will see that the artists always depicted the rigging, correctly, as appearing dark against the background of sea and sky. (As an aside, you will also notice that they usually didn't show the ratlines running between the shrouds and backstays, since ratlines were very thin ropes and were not visible from any distance. When they were depicted at all, they were merely hinted at.)

More to your point, realize that these practices were not instituted all at once, nor were they mandated by any overall authority, and that individual captains had great discretion over such things as how ships were rigged and painted well into the 19th century.

Stoppage03 Jul 2020 1:12 p.m. PST

This might, or might not, give insight:

Tar (Wiki)

Its main use was in preserving wooden sailing vessels against rot. For centuries, dating back at least to the 14th century, tar was among Sweden's most important exports. Sweden exported 13,000 barrels of tar in 1615 and 227,000 barrels in the peak year of 1863. The largest user was the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom.

I believe that Britain also imported tar (along with timber for spars) from Russia.

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