Digest>Archives> Jul/Aug 2018

Model Lighthouse Building In Another Era

By Timothy Harrison


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In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Percival Marshall & Co., proprietors of The Model Engineer, created a number of model kits that would be built from cardboard that was included with the kits. One of those kits was for a lighthouse.

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It is believed the lighthouse kit was introduced in 1908, and it was advertised in Popular Mechanics Magazine in 1909. Assembling and building the lighthouse model was no easy task. The instructions for the construction and assembly were eight pages long in small print. The completed dimensions for the kit were 14”H x 6.5” in diameter.

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A completed model was first displayed in 1908 at the Society of Model Engineers Conversazione in London, England. It had a red and white flashing light. Interestingly, the material needed to wire and install a light in the tower was not included with the kit. Instead, they wrote in the instruction booklet, “There are several firms advertising regularly in The Model Engineer who can supply the complete electrical apparatus mentioned herein or any of the parts for making it.”

In the very early 1900s, the company sponsored exhibits where model kit builders could display their completed models.

Shown here is the cover and a couple of pages from the instruction booklet, which also included a brief history of lighthouses and their vital role to the safety of the mariner at sea and the safe transport of goods to and from ports around the globe.

We can only wonder if any of the completed models have survived to this day. Regardless, booklets like this are a valuable insight into another era that helps to preserve a small slice of lighthouse and maritime history.

This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2018 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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