Model of Norwegian Royal Yacht Commissioned from Bassett-Lowke Ltd.

Gentleman's Library Sale
28 - 29 Jan 2014
London, Knightsbridge

A fine shipbuilder's model of K/S Norge, ex. SY Philante 1937, the Norwegian Royal Yacht, will be a highlight during Bonhams two-day Gentleman's Library sale on January 28 and 29 in London's Knightsbridge. The 165cm-long model commissioned from Bassett-Lowke Ltd., which captures the appearance of the Royal Yacht following her refit in 1947, is estimated at £15,000-20,000.

The SY Philante was commissioned by Yachtsman and Aircraft manufacturer Sir Thomas Sopwith in 1934, built by Camper and Nicholson at Gosport, and launched in 1937. At the outbreak of WW2, she was requested to serve as a Convoy Escort by the Admiralty, and renamed HMS Phylante. In 1946, at the end of the war, she was returned to Sir Thomas Sopwith, who sold her a year later to the Norwegian Government. She underwent a substantial refit before passing to King Haakon Vll in 1948.

When Prince Carl of Denmark acceded to the Norwegian throne as King Haakon Vll in 1905, he was promised a Royal Yacht, following the tradition set by earlier European Monarchs. At the end of WW2, a nation-wide appeal was launched to purchase a yacht for the elderly King. Sopwith's yacht was bought for him in 1947, and a model was commissioned and presented to him on his 75th birthday.

The offered model comes with a framed telegram from King Haakon to Charles Nicholson, which reads: "Thank you all and all your hands for excellent work refitting Norge for her new purpose". The model attests to the ship's physical robustness. The hull is made of solid timber, painted white to the waterline, with brass edged port lights and windows, and accommodation ladders slung outboard on both sides. Below, the yacht is painted maroon, with a broad blue boot top and twin, and four blade brass propellers. The timber decks are inscribed with plank lines in Indian ink, the white superstructure with buff funnel, and the open bridge with wheel binnacle and wing telegraphs. The model is embellished with fine metal detailing, including radar and searchlight, cable and windlass, cargo derrick anchors, ventilators, guard rails and stanchions.

The refitted vessel, now renamed Norge (Norway), sailed to Scandinavia in 1948. After King Haakon's death in 1957, when the yacht was taken by King Olav, she underwent a 10 year refitting programme and was extensively used by the Royal Family for both State and pleasure purposes. Now owned by King Harald, Norge is still fully employed on Royal duties. She is one of only three European Royal Yachts still in commission.

The fine model on offer is one of three commissioned from Bassett-Lowke in 1947. One was given to Sir Thomas Sopwith, another was passed to King Haakon as a birthday present, and this model was retained by Camper and Nicholson. The model is mounted on silvered posts in a glazed mahogany display case. It bears a brass plaque, inscribed: "SY Philante built by Camper and Nicholson 1937 for Sir Thomas Sopwith Draft 15ft6in Length 263ft Displacement 1,600tonnes Beam 38ft. Royal Yacht Norge Camper and Nicholson refit 1947/8 for King Haakon of Norway."

For further information and images call Chloe Ashby on +44 (0)207 468 8210, or email or


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