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Creepy-Yet-Beautiful Ship Models Made of Human Bones by POWs

To pass the time, French prisoners held in British dungeons during the Napoleonic Wars would build intricate ship models from human and animal bones. Now these creepy works of art sell for tens of thousands of dollars at auctions.

While English prisoners of war spent their jail time playing sports, French POWs found a rather macabre hobby – building models of enemy ships out of bones. Although it’s recorded they were treated exceptionally well by the English, because the skirmishes between the two European forces dragged on for years some prisoners remained locked away for over a decade, so they needed something to pass the time. Prisoners would keep pig and mutton bones from the food rations issued to them by the English, boil them and bleach them in the sun. But sometimes materials from their meals weren’t enough for their detailed works of art, so they supplemented their supplies with human bones from the shallow graves around camp, uncovered by roving pigs. No one really cared where or from who the bones came from, as long as they helped finish the job.

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Matchstick Master Builds Impressive Matchstick Fleet

David Reynolds, from Southampton, England, has spent over 10,000 hours gluing 250,000 matchsticks into a veritable matchstick armada of 20 legendary ships.

The 51-year-old retired oil rig worker first made headlines last year, when the Guinness Book of Records acknowledged his oil rig replica as the largest matchstick model in the world, numbering 4,075,000 matchsticks. But the matchstick master didn’t sleep on his laurel after this notable success. He kept on gluing matchsticks and this year he finally completed his amazing collection of 20 famous ships, including Nelson’s HMS Victory, the Cutty Sark, Queen Mary and even the Titanic.

The creator says he was inspired by the city of Southampton and England’s seafaring history, but the fact that his father worked on board the Queen Mary, and his life at sea as an oil rig worker also had something to do with it. He considers his intricate matchstick models a tribute to the men and women who  risked their lives at sea, throughout history.

Asked if he uses official plans from museums, to get every detail right, David Reynolds said that would cost him up to 1,000 pounds for each ship, so he prefers to use whatever photos and models he can find and do his own drawings. Each ship in his matchstick armada has taken between four and seven months to complete, and cost between 300 and 400 British pounds. The entire fleet took him around 10 years to build, and he says the hardest part was recreating the anchors, lifeboats and safety robes, as they take  tremendous patience and time.

Mister Reynolds discovered the art of matchstick model making when his son bought him a kit, when he was housebound after serious surgery. It started off as a hobby, but quickly turned into a passion that continues to bring him worldwide recognition.

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Artist Spends 17 Years Carving Model of the HMS Victory

Sculptor Ian Brennan has spent 5,000 hours, in the last 17 years, carving a piece of timber into a miniature replica of admiral Nelson’s famous HMS Victory.

60-year-old Brennan, from Warsash, England, only became a full-time sculptor when he was 34, but in just five years time he became a sculptor of the Royal House. That’s how he ended up doing restorative work on the real HMS Victory, for about a year. As recognition for a job well done, Ian Brennan received a piece of timber from the legendary ship, which he later decided to use as material for a small scale replica of the Victory.

While you may think centuries old wood would be easier to carve, this particular piece of timber was as hard as concrete, and Ian had to much more work into it than expected. 5,000 hours, throughout 17 years, to be exact, during which he went through several pairs of overalls and cut himself countless times. Just like the original HMS Victory, Ian’s replica features 104 guns, 37 sails, flags bearing Nelson’s inspirational signal ‘England expects every man to do his duty’, as well as 200 feet of intricate rope.

Ian Brennan knew he only had one chance at doing something like this, as he would never again get another piece of timber from the original HMS Victory, so he made sure his 47-inch replica was just perfect. His family has been very supportive throughout the 17 years of work, although I’m sure his wife Suzanne wished her husband spent more of his free time with her.

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