Homage to Captain Armitage McCann (continued)
By Bill Russell 

... In the referenced article by William Crothers, who personally knew Captain McCann, he gives us an interesting description of the Captain as a man. “During his lifetime, Capt. McCann was a man of sober, almost gaunt, expression. Rarely given to a smile, he was certainly not a man of  sour disposition.” “ Throughout the years, starting in 1928, he campaigned tirelessly by means of The Ship Modeler to elevate and popularize the craft of ship modeling. He persistently pleaded for more members, more contributions of material, and increased interest.” “If ever a man devoted his heart to a cause it was Capt. E. Armitage McCann.”

In 1933, the last issue of The Ship Modeler was published because Captain McCann had “developed throat and chest problems”, and was moving from Brooklyn to Ridgefield Connecticut where he hoped the improved climate would help his condition. Captain McCann is shown in the photo at right in 1936 or 1937.

In spite of his illness, he continued to contribute articles to Popular Science. He completed his finest ship model and had written the draft articles on the model in 1937. The ship was the Confederate raider Alabama. He was to have the model photographed for the magazine on October 7, 1937, but the day before, he died.

I have in my possession a letter to the club from John C. Hudock dated March 21. 1996. John was planning an exhibit that he hoped would contain examples of all of Captain McCann’s models documented in Popular Science. In the letter, he summarizes some research he had done by examining records of the Probate Court in the
town of Ridgefield where Captain McCann died. It was a sad story that was revealed. Captain McCann was intestate, and he had less than $60 in the bank when he died. He left 22 models, but not the model of the Alabama, and a library that required 15 pages to list. Remembering that Captain McCann died in the depths of the great depression, it is not too surprising that the court was unable to sell the models and the books in four years of trying. At that point, the Court gave everything to the undertaker to compensate for the debt he was owed. We do not know what ultimately happened to the models. It would be a good guess that the model of the Alabama was obtained by someone for a very low price.

Thus ends the story of a man who made great contributions to the art and craft we all love.


Captain McCann’s Articles in Popular Science
Year Subject Month
1926 Mediterranean pirate galley or felucca F – M
  Spanish galleon M - J
  Racing Yacht (Pond Model) J - A
  Sovereign of the Seas O - N
1927 Old Ironsides J-M
  Viking Ship A-J
  Santa Maria D
1928 Santa Maria (Continued) J-F
  Mayflower A-M-J-J
  Baltimore Clipper (wood sails) S
  Buckeye State (Mississippi River Boat) N-D
1929  Buckeye State (Continued) J-F-M-A
  Umvoti (Iron Bark half model) S
  Bluenose N-D
1930  Bluenose (Continued) J-F
  Ship – in-Bottle A
  Sampan N
  Preston (Four-pipe destroyer) D
1931  Preston (Continued) J – F – M – A
  Roman Galley  S – O
  Ship Model Cases N 9
1932  Wanderer (Whaler)  A – M – J – J - A
  USS Texas N – D
1933  USS Texas (Continued) J – F – M
  Revenge A – M – J – J – A
  Tools and Materials  S
  How to Make Hulls  O
  Ship Model Fittings  N
1934 Hartford, 1865  J – F – M – A – M
  Castings, Deadeyes, Blocks Au
  Swallow (Baltimore Clipper)  N – D
1935 Swallow (Continued)   J – F
  3-Masted Maine Trading Schooner M
  HMS Bounty A
  River Showboat Jun
  Coloring Models S
  Small Boats N
  Great Republic  D
1936 Great Republic (Continued)  J – F – M – A
  Harbor Tug and Barge  J
  CG CutterAtalanta (Misidentified in articles as Atlanta)  J – A
  Barnagat Lighthouse O
1937 Malek Adhel  M – A – M – J - J
  New Bedford Whale Boat  S – O – N
1938 Alabama (Confederate Raider)  Feb – Aug


References for Article on Captain E. Armitage McCann

  1. The Scratch Modeler’s Log by Henry Bridenbecker, Aero Publishers, 1984.
  2. Capt. E. Armitage McCann: A Man with a Good Idea, by William Crothers, Nautical Research Journal, Volume 35 (1997).
  3. Researching Capt. Armitage McCann in Popular Science Magazine by M. E. Pierson, Seaways’ Ships in Scale, July/August, 1992.
  4. Letter to Ship Modelers Association from John C. Hudock, Jr., March 21, 1996.
  5. Tribute to Captain Ashley and Captain McCann by Harry Eckstein, Nautical Research Journal, September, 1949.
  6. The Father of Model Shipbuilding by Theodore Donaldson, Model Shipbuilder, Nov./Dec. 1980
  7. Letter from Alan D. Frazer commenting on article by William Crothers (Ref. 2) in Nautical Research Journal Vol 36 (1998).