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Maritime Art, Yachting, Yacht Designs, Dixon Kemp, Antique Prints, 1890s

Dixon Kemp (1839-1899) (designer)
Schematic Yacht Elevations and Plans
from A Manual of Yacht and Boat Sailing and Naval Architecture
Horace Cox, London: c. 1890s
Hand-colored prints
Sizes vary widely from small to large
$350 to $750 each

Schematic construction diagrams and plans of various British and American yachts by Dixon Kemp, who exerted a major influence on the sport during the 19th century, as a writer, editor, designer and administrator of the first organizations enforcing yacht racing standards in Great Britain. These prints come from the various editions of Kemp’s popular and influential Manual of Yacht and Boat Sailing and Naval Architecture, which first appeared in 1878 and was regularly reissued until 1913. It was more recently republished in 1988.

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Dixon Kemp was a highly respected and influential figure in the yachting world, and an associate of the Institution of Naval Architects. Kemp became the first secretary of the Yacht Racing Association in Britain in 1875, when it was formed to standardize rules and handicaps for regattas, which at the time varied from one yacht club to another. Kemp’s role was to persuade these clubs that adopting common rules and standards would ultimately help the sport to grow and prosper. Over time, the organization succeeded, and survives today as the Royal Yachting Association. He was also a member of the first board of the Yacht Registration Society, formed in 1877, which organized a formal process of submission of plans and inspection of yachts under construction, in order to encourage progress in yacht design. In the 1880s, Kemp eventually successfully advocated for rating of yachts by water-line length and sail area rather than by tonnage, which revolutionized the field. He also designed a number of famous yachts, including Beluga (1877) and Firecrest (1892). He authored several books, some of which were reprinted in subsequent editions in both English and translated into other languages: Yacht Designing (1876), A Manual of Yacht and Boat Sailing (1878), Practical Boat Building and Sailing (1881) and Yacht Architecture (1885). William J. Roué, the designer of the renowned Canadian yacht Bluenose in 1921, famously paid tribute to Kemp by saying that he owed everything he had learned about boat design to Yacht Architecture.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, soft creases. Many with vertical or horizontal folds, as issued, now professionally flattened as backed on Japanese paper. Later hand color.


Dixon Kemp.” Archives and Collection Society. 21 January 2003. (24 May 2006).

“From Unity to Universality: 125 Years of the RYA.” Royal Yachting Association. 2000. (24 May 2006).

Morris, Gerald E., Llewellyn Howland, and Llewellyn Howland III. Yachting in America: A Bibliography Embracing the History, Practice and Equipment of American Yachting and Pleasure Boating from the Earliest Beginning to Ca. 1988. Mystic, Connecticut: Mystic Seaport Museum Inc, 1997. p. 76.

“Yachting.” LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia.  2003, 2004. (24 May 2006).

Additional information


19th Century