The Clipper Argonaut 1876 half hull measures 37 x 3.5 x 10". Back in the 19th century, half hull models were a construction plan for a ship's hull design and its particular curvature. These were mounted and displayed in admiralty and shipping offices, and now sell at auction as decorative nautical art. This replica features a perfectly detailed bow figurehead, in this case a ram with the Golden Fleece representing the legend of a ship with magical qualities and the heroic righting of wrongs. Narrow for their length, Clippers of the mid-19th C. were fast ships with three masts and a square rig. The era of the Clipper Ships began in 1843 with a growing demand for the rapid transport of tea from China, and continued with the gold discoveries in California and Australia of 1848 and 1851 until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Sailor's lore characterizes the ship as a living being, with the figure at the bow as her soul. Often a mixture of religious, historical or mythological significance, a figurehead inspired all those who lived and worked on the vessel. The Argonauts figurehead is a ram with the Golden Fleece that represents the legend of a ship with magical qualities and the heroic righting of wrongs.