Brig of 1807

History of the Topaz

The brig Topaz was built in Newburyport, Massachusetts in 1807. Benjamin Pierce, owner and Moses Knight, master. A brig is a two masted sailing ship square rigged on both masts.

Length overall






Gross Tons


The brig Topaz was a small merchant craft typical of those that played such an important part in this country's maritime development. She was built on the "cod's head mackerel tail" lines of the period when bluff bows and deep after keels were thought essential to seaworthiness and stability.

Today few mariners would consider an extended deep sea voyage in a vessel hardly over 80 feet long, yet these little craft circled the globe and were well known in Canton, Bombay, Madeira and other ports more remote. They were pioneers in trade, laying the ground work for the maritime supremacy in the era of the clipper ships.

Fabulous profits were to be made in commerce in the early 1800's. A shrewd trader could more than repay the entire cost of his vessel in a single voyage. In the Northwest fur trade, cargoes of trinkets were traded with the Indians for sea otter pelts; the furs exchanged in China for tea and the tea brought home and sold at great profit. Other cargoes included pepper, sugar, ginger, India cotton, Banka tin and Mocha coffee.

With the war of 1812 our government issued letters of marque and commissions and many of these merchant craft became armed privateers, roaming the seas in search of prizes. The brig was more easily handled and maneuvered than the larger three masted ship and so was popular as a privateer. For the same reason brigs were used in smuggling and in the slave trade.

Our Model

The Topaz hull is black with an antiqued copper-green bottom. The sheer stripe is a mustard ochre. Masts are white and a natural varnish and the spars are black. Fittings include six mounted guns, deck house, finely detailed hatch gratings and ships boat. The Topaz is on a maple base with brass finished nameplates on each side of the name block.

Model Measurements

Length overall

17 3/4"



Width of main yard

5 1/2"


How to Order

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