Pierre Wintrebert. Nice, France.

Doctor Robert
19th October 2008, 15:56
Does anybody know anything about a Pierre Wintrebert, a maker of mind-bogglingly accurate metal model boats and ships - mainly sail - to a scale of around 1/192nd. He turns them out by the dozen - suspended in Perspex blocks! They are so precise I can only think they must be made by some computerised system, I'm sure they are beyond human handwork. Computer or not, they are still pretty amazing.
I saw them on a stall at Southampton Boat Show about 6years ago but far too expensive for me. I'd love to know how they are made. Can't find anything about him on the net.

19th October 2008, 18:26
try asking on the model boat mayhem web site.........there are a wealth of knowledgeable folk on there. neil.(Thumb)

Doctor Robert
24th October 2008, 18:54
Many thanks Neil, I never knew about this site - quite a revelation!

24th October 2008, 19:10
Guillame, not Pierre: http://www.winplex.com/default.php Regards, Stein.

24th October 2008, 19:43
I feel that the simple truth of the matter is that they were hand-built by a skilled craftsman. Certainly not beyond the realms of human capability.

Here in the UK, the public has generally been "conditioned" to the fact that the only way to build a good model is to buy a kit & stick it together!

I know this statement will not go down very well in some quarters, but I have seen some absolutely "mind-blowing" miniatures of ships (By Donald McNarry). But he did actually build them & no "computer magic used!"

Look at this lot (By Donald McNarry). I have seen quite a lot of these "in the flesh," & a lot of them are less than a foot long!



Doctor Robert
25th October 2008, 15:16
First of all thank you Stein for the web address. However, I can't trace the stuff they were doing 7 years ago. The work is generally the same - models suspended in Plexiglas, but the subjects are different - they were then mostly yachts - and the detail is not to the same standard. In 2001 they were based in Nice, but they are now way back east at Valreas in the Rhone valley.
I feel that Pierre has maybe retired and Guillaume (a son?) has taken over.

But Bob, I can assure you I am a kit-hater and I worship at DM's shrine! I am no less a great fan of your amazing work. But I'm sure you are unfamiliar with this firm, because their work is - or was - very different from McNarry's. You of all people would know this instantly. For a start, I can't think he'd ever seek to suspend his gems in plastic blocks! If you looked at Winplex site I can assure you Pierre's work was far superior (than Guillaume's). The (all metal) work was so utterly precise that it must be in some way or other mechanised, and the output was also quite 'industrial' in quantity. But the results were fascinating - and I am a life-long small-scale scratch builder myself. Looking at the models on the Winplex site, I find the work disappointingly commercial, but the models that Pierre Wintrebert brought to the Soton boat show in 2001 were spectacularly fine, with a precision that was truly beyond even DM's magic. You could however, have said that in their very engineering precision they lacked his gorgeous character.
I'm amazed that somebody on SN didn't see these models at that show.
Wintrebert may have shown there since then and must have exhibited at other similar interest shows. 2001 was my only visit. I hope someone can bear me out as I'd love to know just how this work was carried out.
Maybe somebody actually bought one - they weren't all under lampshades!
But boy, they cost a bomb - or I'd have bought one.
Many thanks Stein and Bob for your help.

25th October 2008, 17:12
There's this on the net from Boating Business Feb 2004, regarding a boat show: "Thyerry (Should be Thierry?) Wintrebert, makers of exquisite "boats in a resin brick" table lamps and paperweights, found the company was spending more to sell less than it had at Earls Court."
Here's the Nice shop, looks like the same models to me: http://www.wintrebert.com/html/frame.html
A possible explanation for the disapperance of the magic in the models, is that the far superior model maker was not named Wintrebert at all, but merely supplied Thierry Wintrebert (close sounding to Pierre) with models. If he was that amazingly good, active as recently as 7 years ago, and named Pierre Wintrebert - somehow he should have left his name on a model site somewhere?
In the absence of any of Pierre's work, here's a few models by Lloyd MacCaffery. He claims to be the best - in fact in his own eyes he's so good that people lack the eyesight necessary to appreciate how good he is (Seaways Jul./Aug. 92). http://www.jrusselljinishiangallery.com/pages/mccaffrey-pages/mccafferythumbs.htm (I like Shipbuilder, and his seamodelling wife, better, but I'm more of an image man - not really the one to judge :sweat: .) Regards, Stein.

26th October 2008, 08:28
I also like the models by Lloyd MacCaffery, but I still don't think they can compare with those of Donlad McNarry. He seems to be stuck on sailing ships, where McNarry seems to cover the whole field. But if it is true, I don't really agree with him claiming to be "the best," that is a matter for others to decide, not the builder. Thanks for your comments Stein. I know our models are a lot lower down the scale than the two above mentioned, but then again, we churn them out for the pleasure of it more than anything else. Our current model is the 230th since we started counting in October 1992. At the London sale a few days ago, our three were almost a complete "flop!" BRAEMAR CASTLE & the prison hulk did not attract a single bid, but the obscure Norwegian cargo ship ROSE (1938) went for £300 - well down on the previous sale! But we have the satsifaction of knowing that whoever purchased ROSE has a nice little ship for a reasonable price. We also like to think that because of our seafaring background, we have instilled the "feel" of the sea in our models. Christine never worked at sea, but sailed with me for a number of years aboard my last two ships.
The Wintrebert models may be superb, but they don't "move" me in any way. If there are lots of them, all the same, I accept that they are probably produced commercially by "machine," but if each is different, I still believe that they were hand made. Lots of things were hand-made long before machines were built capable of doing it. I am thinking mainly of watches & small scientific instruments made hundreds of years ago. It may seem unbelievable now, but they did it nevertheless.

26th October 2008, 10:02
Hi Shipbuilder. I might have stretched MacCaffery's self praise a tiny bit, he only said that when he started out as a model builder he saw no other reason to do so other than to become the best. But his selfpraise in all he wrote that I have read would indicate that he thought he had accomplished that. The mentioned article in Seaways got a reaction in the next number with people angrily asking what the point was in making things better than anyone could appreciate, and I thought that the editor for being willing to publish that reaction must have found MacCaffery going a bit over the top for a long time.
But no really, that Cutty Sark of his has neither got the sails set, or the ship placed in the sea as convincingly as has your work, and beyond that I don't care if his blocks are of gold with platinum sheaves. It's a bit like the painter who paints flag halliards: you could notice them in real life, but you don't -and so it merely distracts. My philosophy is that it is not the difficulty of the building process that should impress, but finished product in it complete presence. (I'm not insisting on others adopting that, I'm merely trying to clarify my own views - which really is that of a marine painter and not a model maker..) Regards, Stein.

Doctor Robert
26th October 2008, 18:48
Well Stein, I'm beginning to regret this thread! :) - but just hoping someone who actually saw these models can bear me out - if not, you'll be writing me off with Alzheimer's. They were actually modelled in brass as I remember and I'm quite sure both you guys would understand what I'm on about if you saw them - they were very 'other' from the present Wintrebert gallery offerings. I must contact them direct and see what the story was.

As for McCaffery, well, I never noticed any more conceit than from any of the better modelmakers - in his book anyway. I mean the guy is pretty dedicated and although I utterly agree with you about 'presence' Stein, which is really what it should be about (and in this the master will always be DM) - simply in precision terms, what about the Hunnisetts, the Mouets, Reeds, Haynes, Wingroves and Darches etc, etc, we could go on. But I still maintain this Wintrebert stuff I keep on about was pretty dam funky - I mean of inevitable interest to anyone in the skill.. Oh well, I promise I'll shut up on the subject - unless I can pick up any worthwhile clues from France.
Good to have all your reactions guys,
Best, Alan.

26th October 2008, 18:59
Hi Alan,
Are there any links to the works of Mouets, Reeds, Haynes, Wingroves on the internet, I have never heard of any of them. I remember the models of the late Derek Hunnisett. Malcolm Darch prouduces exquisite work, but it is all on a large scale. Hunnissett was a miniaturist. There is also Chapman, Evans & Williams doing miniatures. Also a Walpole, but not heard of him for two or three years now.
I have the MaCaffery book & find it very good, but he is quite evasive on certain things (such as what glue he uses).

Doctor Robert
27th October 2008, 00:07
Hi Bob, I’ve just been going through ABE books for Gerald Wingrove’s 1974 book -‘The Techniques of Ship Modelling’ but sadly with no luck at the moment, I think you’d find it worth having though, certainly one of the more serious few. He shows work in various scales but his nice Bengal pilot cutter ‘Fame’ is at 1/96. I’d bought the new book and shortly after, spotted an ad for a Unimat ‘Selecta’ lathe, I recognised it was his and skated over to his workshop at High Wycombe and got it. Nice guy.
I had that lathe refurbed and use it still. I’m sure you know his landscape model down at Beaulieu of the old ‘wooden walls’ building at Buckler’s Hard. Personally, I’ve never felt this was his best advertisement - but who am I?!
The other guys are hard to track down, which was just what I was on about - it’s so sad that such gifted men can be virtually lost to view - unless you happen to spot one in a museum somewhere. If only they’d all written their books! For decades I’ve been an avid book collector on all things maritime, but especially on model making. I must have almost a ‘subject full-house’ and I try to keep up with newcomers. I’ve kept everything - even the rubbish stuff ! but I also have some Victorian gems which are worth a packet now - well they were a month or two back! ‘ok, shut up AB!’
Where was I?
Bob, Having been down publishing alley yourself, isn’t it high time you sat down and gave posterity the benefit of your flair and experience? I know that you’ve put out scores of articles, but there’s nothing like a good juicy definitive from the guvnor, to bury oneself in. Apart from dozens of classic works on the different aspects of ship modelmaking, when it comes down to it, there are less than a dozen books that really laser into the subject from A to Z.
If only Robert Mouat had put his artistry into print before he passed away last year.
Every builder has their different approach which is so fascinating. I know William Mowll is a 1/48 man but I went to see him a year or two back and I was knocked out with his professionalism - a really nice bloke too. (as a vicar I guess he should be) His books are much thumbed here. I thought McCaffery was actually quite interesting on the glue subject - different. Then Brian King - I wonder how you see him Bob? I remember Derek Hunnisett’s lovely models in shows way back long before he died - one in particular - a 4 mast full rigger foundering in a storm with her sails blown to shreds, did you get to see it? So far as web links, there is the American Marine Model Gallery www.shipmodel.com/index.htm which is a pretty safe haven for quality builders, with excellent galleries, although I’ve never succeeded in capturing their enlargements which vanish instantly. Maybe because I’m on a Mac’ which seems strangely neglected by PC site designers sometimes.
Chapman and Walpole I missed out on, where can I see them? Evans, I seem to have seen, probably in copy of Model Shipwright. There was a Guy Williams who did 'The World of Model Ships & Boats' back in 1971, quite a sound book, is he the one you quote? But do you know Joe Crowfoot’s work? A Lowestoft fisherman. I think you’d enjoy the wonderful ‘presence’ he produced. Do you know him Stein?
Sorry to block up the system.
Cheers, Alan.

27th October 2008, 08:09
Hi Alan,
Mainly, the only shipmodelling books I have are concerned with miniatures, Donald McNarry Lloyd MacCaferry. Although MacCaffery describes each glue in turn, he doesn’t actually say which ones he uses. He doesn’t even say if he uses them all for different things!
I have really had enough of it. When I completed my autobiography in 1999, it was rejected on a regular basis by most of the mainstream publishers with the rather weak “no-one is interested in personal reminiscences about the sea these days.” Trouble is, readers are generally not allowed to get interested because publishers simply do not like them & are reluctant to publish. Two of them thought it had some merit & asked me to re-write it to their specifications. I did so & each re-write took about a year, & in each case, they didn’t like the re-write either! Anyway, when a small Scottish publisher finally took it on, it sold very well & they are now considering a reprint after only two years!
A couple of years ago, I was asked if I would like to write a ship model book. I sent in an outline of what I felt would make a good all-round book. They rejected the synopsis on the grounds that I didn’t want to cover CUTTY SARK, BOUNTY, VICTORY, TITANIC, paddle steamers, tugs & harbour craft. For a time, that was the end of it, then they came back a few months ago having changed their publishing editor and saying I could write it as I wished & they would offer me a publishing contract. That, however, sounded rather like a “millstone” round my neck. Legal deadlines, penalties for non-completion etc etc. So I declined it. There is no possibility of me taking such a contract on. To write and get a book published is the work of several years & I have no patience for that sort of thing anymore. I find MODEL SHIPWRIGHT ideal. The editor has the same interests & views as I do. I can write about whatever I like & they publish in every issue. The pay is far superior to book royalties. Each article takes me about 5 hours to write (I have to build the model first though). I have very little patience & like to see quick results. That is why I build miniatures, I can produce one in about 60 hours of work. I don’t even take private commissions these days because it is the “millstone round neck” feeling again.
Chapman & Walpole miniatures usually appeared at the Christie’s sales together with my own, but since Christie’s discontinued maritime last year, neither of them have turned up at Charles Miller Ltd maritime sales. Chapman still writes for MODEL SHIPWRIGHT though. I didn’t see the Hunnisett storm model, I only saw pictures when they appeared in MODEL SHIPWRIGHT & for a number of years, I didn’t subscribe to it anyway. The Williams I talk about is Brian Williams, www.marinereplicas.co.uk So few modelmakers have the slightest interest in anything I build, so I tend to be a loner in the field, taking no model building magazines or journal (apart from MODEL SHIPWRIGHT that I get complimentaries for when my articles appear). The most popular subjects don’t appeal to me at all – Napoleonic, Naval, small boats, tugs, paddle steamers, fishing boats, yachts etc etc. I am mainly interested in iron & steel square-riggers, and big steam or motorships plus the odd tea clipper or steam coaster. I suppose this makes me sound rather eccentric, but I build them mainly for pleasure rather than for what people want – it is best in the long run.

Doctor Robert
27th October 2008, 11:24
Bob that’s such sad reading, although I can perfectly understand your conclusions. I guess it’s today’s ‘bottom-line or nothing’ dictum. There was a time when if someone wrote a well written definitive it would get published
but now it’s a different world. I do so align with all your feelings about the shallowness of public interest though. My own fascination has always been, like you, with the glorious era that began with transitional and ended 50 years ago.
Surely such a rich period of history would have fired public imagination? Where are the exciting documentaries that could be made? The huge Taschen coffee table books?
Maybe it is just a tad too soon, there’s a fair bit about WW2 and the 50s way of life so maybe it’ll take another decade for people to wake up to that wildly romantic century of world transportation.
Yes I do remember Mr Chapman - it came back to me during the night - I remember his work with yours back in the 90s at Christies. I sold a lot of stuff back then. There was another builder, and I’d forgotten his name - so it was Walpole then.
Many thanks for the Brian Williams link, how did I completely miss out on his work? I think I’ve been silly in not keeping up Model Shipwright. I wasn’t even sure it was still going. But maybe it was because I felt a lot of its content was on aspects of less interest - like ornate state barges. It wasn’t exactly cheap either. daft of me though.
Back on books, if you picked up a copy of Wingrove (ISBN 0 85242 366 7) I think you’d find it interesting, and Brian King’s serious first book, a paperback - ISBN 1-85486-197-2 (forget his 2nd) is well worth reading. You hardly need any instruction Bob! but it’s always good to hear other people’s take on a subject.
Whatever - I do think 'Shipwright ought to put together a book of your collected articles - I’d be first customer!
Cheers, Alan.

27th October 2008, 14:16
Hi Alan,
That about sums it up. The great weakness of MODEL SHIPWRIGHT is their reluctance to move with the times & produce the journal in colour. At the moment, only the covers have colour pictures. Inside, it is all black & white. I do feel rather sad when I send my pictures off to them in glorious colour, knowing they will be reduced to B & W. I can't think of any other magazine who sticks with B & W. It is understandable with those dealing specifically with old B & W pictures, but I really can't understand it for modern ones.

The greater part of the UK public seem to regard anything that floats as a "boat" even if it is quarter of a million tons!

The interest is still there, but remains "outside" the shipmodelling field. Until the recent financial turmoil, collectors couldn't get enough of them.

I am not unduly troubled by it, I buy & read with great enjoyment any of the old sea reminiscences that come my way. I don't feel all that removed from the Merchant Navy of old, because I am building them in miniature all the time. I must admit that my final year at sea (total about 31) was really hard-going for me. I was fed up with progress & the life in general. My last ship was brand new when I joined early in 1990 & although physically more comfortable than the previous one in which I had sailed for 11 years, I really didn't like it all that much. It was crammed with so much electronics that I was hard-pushed to keep my section in order as well as the continual communications by morse, teleprinter and satellite that kept me at it all day long & often called in the night as well. By late 1992, I had really got the "romance" of the MN out of my soul & it was just a relief to leave, but I still enjoy reading about it, safe in the knowledge that I will never again have to participate. I wouldn't even like to return as a passenger!

Doctor Robert
27th October 2008, 18:28
Hi Bob, I share your feelings, even though I was in a different way of life the 1990 slump brought my business to an end, but I feel so lucky to be out of it now - wrecked as it soon was by modern technology - the very thing that brings us together here! I certainly don't envy anyone still soldiering on. No, I'd say we both enjoyed the 'golden years' of our different trades and I can't believe my luck.

27th October 2008, 20:36
Here I am in the last months of seafaring contentment aboard the old ship (that was then 27-years-old). I am on extreme left, Dave the chief officer is centre & Bob, the captain, is looking in the radar. We had shared so many good times together over the the 11 preceeding years & here we are in blissful ignorance that it was all shortly to end when our dear old ship was sold & we all moved onto the replacement.

Nothing to do with ship modelling, but maybe someone will be interested in it.

18th October 2010, 09:58
Good evening Sir
I am aware that you will get these lines a little bit late, seen your thread dated of 2008.
I have the pleasure to present you Thierry Wintrebert, of whom you have admired his exhibition during of one the Southampton Boat Show.
We would thank you for your interest in his products.
Please find here all details for contact him :

Monsieur Wintrebert Thierry
2, rue Jules-Gilly
06300 Nice
Telephone : ++33 4 93 13 91 67
FAX: +33 959 52 91 67
E-mail : danielle@wintrebert.com

Thank you once again, we look forward to meet you.
Kind regards
Danielle Wintrebert