Ships from Ben-Hur

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Prop-making is not what it used to be. Computers and CGI changed everything. However, when you see a prop from the old days, you can’t help but acknowledge the craftsmanship that was employed in those times. We currently have 19 filming miniature ships from both the 1925 and 1956 Ben-Hur films. The same ships were used in both productions.

They are impressive even in their current state. Made of copper, aluminum, steel and wood, this literal armada range from 5 to 9 feet in length. The copper hulls have rusted over the years and the masts have collapsed. Many of the wooden decks are no longer present, though the larger ships still retained mechanical gears for the oars.

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Today we are attempting to lightly restore these ships. Mainly just reattach loose parts, put up the mast if that is there, and brush away the dust. They must have been quite a sight 60+ years ago. These really should belong in an institution, where real restoration can be properly performed and subsequently displayed. In the meantime, these will be in our July auction catalog. Here’s hoping they find a good home soon.

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2 thoughts on “Ships from Ben-Hur

  1. Wow – just saw these in the online catalogue. These are great!! I had no idea they were used in BOTH the silent film AND the Heston version. What a great and important piece of Hollywood history. I used to write for the Local 44 Newsletter (propmakers and special effects local). These ships really speak to Hollywood’s tradition of hiring the best of the best throughout the world in all aspects of film production. Hope whoever gets them posts photos of the fleet once it’s restored

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