Ship Plans from the Smithsonian

The other day, I had quite a nice surprise. I got a call from the ship plans office of the Smithsonian. They called to let me know that there was a delay in sending out my plans due to the installation of new digital copying equipment, but that the plans I ordered was going out that day.

Now, that’s customer service – A lot better service than some of the ship model related companies I’ve been dealing with. I’d ordered the plans back in mid-December figuring they would be shut down for the holidays. But, I did notice that it was taking longer than in the past to receive plans, so it was really nice to get the call. Something I’d never expected.

If you’re curious what I ordered, it was a simple one-sheet copy of lines of the USS Fenimore Cooper, a former New York pilot boat that was purchased by the Navy and used in survey work in the Pacific. She was stationed at Mare Island for a time in the 1850s where she was used to ferry supplies from San Francisco, just across the bay. Eventually, she was wrecked on the coast of Japan and her captain, Lt. John M. Brooke, and some of her crew returned to the US aboard the Kanrin Maru.

As for the plans themselves, at one sheet, it was only $10 plus shipping. I’ve been told that with the new equipment installed I would be very pleased with the quality of the plans. I’ll let you know how they look when they show up.

In any case, the Smithsonian is a great source of ship plans.  At the moment, you can only order by mail and can only pay by check or money order, but I was also told that they are trying to get set up to take credit cards. Plans are always shipped rolled up in a tube.

To order, you’ll need to know what they have. They now have 3 catalogs: Ship Plans List/Maritime Collection, the Maritime Collection of Ship Plans (1939-1970), and the Smithsonian Collection of Warship Plans.

For pricing and address, just visit their website below:

Ship Plans | National Museum of American History

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