The Figurehead Archives
Built up during a period of over 40 years the full Figurehead Archive can be divided into two quite distinctive areas of research, the first and perhaps most important are the photographic representations of Ships Figureheads, both on and off the vessels, plus a number of other Maritime Woodcarvings, such as Stern Board Carvings, and Cats Heads, this is built up from historic Black and White prints taken from the early 1900’s until the late 1950’s, to more contemporary prints in colour, and now digital images.
The Archive also has an extensive collection of colour slides from both private and public collections around the world, many show Figureheads that have been lost due to war, fire, neglect, or are no longer on public display or form part of private collections.
In many ways it has been possible to study the life of individual carvings over a long period of time, looking at both historic black and white photos and more contemporary prints showing before and after restoration or damage, at the moment the photographic collection stands at around 45,000 images, including slides, photographs and digital images, with new items added almost daily.
The second part of the Figurehead Archive is a library of over 800 books and publications on the subject of Ships Figureheads, Maritime, Woodcarvings, Maritime Antiques including a large number of magazines, newspaper articles and cuttings from the 1850’s to the present day from all around the world. As with the photographic collection the bibliography material is being constantly added to building a collection and archive of international importance.
Fortuna - A Figurehead Triptych
Dutch artist Maaike Vonk has chosen the “Hunter Figurehead archives” to showcase the resale of her inspirational figurehead triptych artwork “FORTUNA” originally created in 1987 for the restaurant of the De Beer hotel in Europort near Rotterdam. Painted in oils on canvas as three separate works of art that can be display looking inwards towards the front view of the Figurehead, or outwards, depending on how you care to position the three parts, using day and night symbolically, showing Ursa major, and Ursa minor in the top background of the dark sky, Maaike has deliberately kept the style of this piece naïve, reflecting the charm and fascination figureheads have held for generations of sailors and landlubbers alike, figureheads hold a special place in the Worlds rich maritime heritage, with an enduring mystery and allure that transcends time and space, “FORTUNA” is the embodiment of countless thousands of Figureheads that traversed the Worlds great oceans, holding witness to a lost art and tradition. When Maaike began this project she looked at all the surviving Ships Figureheads, in both private and public collections throughout her native Holland, she was even offered a rare opportunity to visit the reserve collection of carvings hidden away in the attic of the National Scheepvaartsmuseum in Amsterdam, but still couldn’t find a female figurehead that matched the idea already in her head, to solve this problem she crafted a three dimensional clay model, and used this as a reference point for the finished painting together with a number of preliminary sketches.
Read more: Fortuna - A Figurehead Triptych
Female Figurehead For Sale
The “Hunter Figurehead Archives” offer visitors to it’s website a wonderful opportunity to buy a fine looking figurehead in the form of a young woman in a traditional costume of the nineteenth century, skilfully carved in sold mahogany, 90cm in height and 40 x 40cm with a weight of approximately 22.5 kg, (49.6 lbs) she was originally bought by the present owners father in Bremen Germany in the early 1970’s and is now offered for sale for the first time.
She would make an ideal wall decoration for a working office or coastal summer house, we are looking for a price in the region of £5,000 for this wonder carving however this is negotiable.
For more details or additional photos please e-mail me direct at
(Shipping of this figurehead can also be arranged by the present owner )
Two unique replica Figureheads carved by
The well respected Charles Moore
Finding an authentic Ships Figurehead in today’s Antiques market is becoming extremely difficult, and if you do find one in an antique shop or auction the prices can be prohibitive, modern day fibreglass replicas lack the appeal and weight of real wood, over 50 years ago Charles Moore gave up a well established clock making business in Clerkenwell London and moved lock stock and barrel to the beautiful Cornish coastal village of St Just-in-Roseland, finding a set of old woodcarvers chisels, and with a love or the sea and all things nautical, Charles began to carve small copies of original Figureheads that could still be found in the local harbours and villages around the coast, the local Isles of Scilly and the magnificent collection on Tresco served as inspiration in those early days.
Read more: FOR SALE
Figureheads of the Royal Navy By David Pulvertaft
A review by Richard Hunter Figurehead Historian
Not all that long ago looking for a book on the subject of Ships Figureheads was very much limited to a few “General” works on the subject, exploring as they did the tradition on both Merchant and Naval vessels, offering the reader a narrow insight into both subjects, for anyone interested in primarily Naval Figureheads “Old Ship Figureheads and Sterns” by L G Carr Laughton published in 1925 has been the principal source of information, dealing with the style and construction of decorative carved work on and around the bow and stern of vessels, as well as British Naval Figureheads, Laughton also deals with the tradition of decoration in other major European nations, such as France, Spain, The Netherlands and Scandinavia, with a number of re-prints over the years this I am sure will continue to be one of the primary sources of information, when Laughton began to write his book during the first quarter of the twentieth century.
Read more: Figureheads of the Royal Navy By David Pulvertaft
A Special member of staff
Step into the reception of any World class hotel and you will be invariably greeted at the desk by an attractive young woman or handsome young man, always eager to help and make your stay as pleasant as possible, in the hope that you will visit them again or recommend the hotel to family and friends, was the room comfortable, the service and food good, all questions to make your stay as pleasant as possible. The facilities vary from hotel to hotel; some rely on Old World charm with a magnificent location, others modern and stylist, it’s a very competitive market.
Read more: A Special member of staff