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The Bonhomme Richard 1779

Formerly known as Le Duc de Duras, the Bonhomme Richard was classified Frigate in the Continental Navy. Built in Lorient, France in 1765, , the merchant ship of the French East India Company was disposed to John Paul Jones in the year 1779 by the King of France, Louis XVI.

It is the famous French architect Jean BOUDRIOT who revived this exceptional ship in 1987 through a very detailed monograph. So almost 30 years later will it be the start of a great adventure for me.

This exceptional model was entirely handcrafted in the rules of art, inside and out. Intended for exhibition in a museum or at a private home, this realisation is unique and accurate to the smallest detail.

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The wood

For the wood, I chose 3 main wood essences: Whitebeam, Pear Tree and Boxwood. First two represent the main part of the manufacturing, and the boxwood is used for decorations and various pulleys. A rigorous selection of the best parts of the wood ended up making 65% scraps, like the real ships of the time. About ten wood trays were therefore necessary for manufacturing. For ecological reasons, all the wood used for manufacturing comes from France. All the black wooden pieces are pear tree wood dyed with Indiana ink. The main wood treatment is a colorless matte wax oil. Boxwood sets are patinated with a particular shade before getting covered of wax oil.

Other materials

Other materials besides precious wood are brass, to reproduce most of the metal structures, as well as artillery pieces. There is also a bit of copper, lead and tin. Only window panes and lantern panes are made of plexiglass. The brass and the copper are blackened using a special chemical treatment.

The manufacturing

Many of the tools I used were handcrafted. The blueprints have a 1/48 scale in the monograph, I had them scanned and printed to a scale of 1/36 by a reprographer. The thorough study of the monograph as well as other documentations represent hundreds of hours of researches in the whole project.
The manufacturing time is around 5000 hours of shed work over several years, including the rigging. A perpetual challenge at every step. Each piece is unique and fabricated following the blueprints or based on historical researches. It’s also often the same piece being fabricated multiple times before obtaining the final one.

About the ship

Weight 55.11 lbs 25 kg
Length 78.74 in 200 cm
Width 29.52 in 75 cm
Height 59 in 150 cm