I have a few featuring models of sailing ships and toy boats in my collection which give a fair idea of the range used by Victorian and Edwardian studio photographers.
Two unidentified young men & model of sailing ship
Carte de visite by Abderame's Crescent Studio of Bristol, c.1875-80
This carte de visite is one that I have featured previously, and I suspect that the fine model of a two-masted brig was intended to provide a nautical flavour rather than as a toy for the amusement of children for the duration of the portrait sitting. The portrait came from an album which belonged to a family who emigrated from England to Australia and New Zealand, so perhaps these young men were readying themselves for a life abroad or on the ocean wave.
The New Bedford Whaling Museum has a fine example featuring a Captain Howland admiring a magnificant model of what is presumably his own sailing ship.
Unidentified child with model of yacht
Cabinet card by W.W. Winter of Derby, c.1890-91
An annotation pecilled on the reverse of Winter's card mount suggests that this boy in a smart sailor suit might be Charles Richard Mapp (1887-1955), whose father Richard William Mapp (originally from Derby) was the station master at Woodville Railway Station in 1891.
Unidentified child and model of yacht
Cabinet card by J.L. Hart of Ashbourne, c.1894-98
This pond yacht lies momentarily unattended on the seat of the wicker chair - perhaps its owner is concentrating on balance rather than the promise of a play at the boating pond after the studio visit?
Unidentified young child with model of sailing ship
Cabinet card by C.S. Swift of Derby, c.1903-06
Swift's elaborate studio furniture didn't have much to do with sailing, but he was able to captivate this child shortly after the turn of the century with a model of perhaps a three-masted barque.
Flickr user oldsailro has an entire collection devoted to model boats, a good proportion of which are late 19th and early 20th Century studio portraits, illustrating the huge popularity of pond yachting as a pastime for children at that time.
For more photographs of a nautical flavour head over to Sepia Saturday.