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Much like sailors at sea for many months or even many years, convicts found themselves in a similar situation. They faced long periods of boredom, and some prisoners undertook building ship models as an activity to occupy their time. Due to a lack of resources, convicts’ models rarely replicate a specific named vessel, and thus such pieces are called “fantasy models.” Despite their lack of accuracy, these models can take hundreds of hours to build and represent a labor of love as much as any of the other models on display.
The Houston Maritime Museum has two examples of convict’s models on display:
Matchstick Model: Built by an inmate of Angola State Prison from 15,000 matches
Secret Compartment Model: Built by an inmate in the Texas prison system, this model has a secret compartment on the bow that lifts to reveal a hiding space and the inmate’s number.