The importance of the wheel of a ship is overshadowed by very few other parts. Because of its straightforward but vital function, these items are symbols of leadership. The humble beginnings of this association started when wheels were first implemented onto ships as an alternate steering tool. In historical periods when these items didn’t exist, wooden panels attached tightly to the rudder were used in their stead. Today, we know the ship’s wheel as the first and only method of steering a ship. This tool was first used on boats that had massive sails.
Because sailing boats and ships wheels were used so closely together, they tended to evolve together. Technology for both the sail boat and ships wheels were required to be similar, as the two always worked in tandem. Ship builders often created new boats and new methods of steering alongside each other. Because wood was the default material in making ships of the older days, ships wheels were crafted from wood as well. These items weren’t completely made from wood, however, and many were accented with metal for directional purposes. The metal used in these bits corresponded to the position of key stars in the night sky, and were often made from brass. On many occasions, ships wheels held the dates and seasons for many constellations in its wooden frame. The inclusions of these pieces of information helped a helmsman to determine his bearings. The Northern Star, Polaris, was among one of the most vital stars to navigation on the sea.

Wheels were very often named after a popular women’s name at the time. For many, the wheel of a ship represented the desire for a sailor to get home to their family. Superstitions bloomed, and many sailors took to wearing replica wheels on their necklaces for good luck. Ship yards and businesses alike borrowed the icon of a ship’s wheel and made it into their own company logo. Sea travel and business was represented in ages when reading was unpopular by a ship’s wheel.
This decorative item is a great first buy for any novice of maritime themed collecting. Not only is this item easily recognizable, but it is also fairly simple to display and take care of. The flat, large expanse of a wall makes an ideal environment for these wheels to sit. Cleaning these items is easy, mainly because most of them are wood and only require a yearly polish. Metal tends to rust, and the metal parts of these wheels are required to be watched closely for developments of detrimental rust. For many, cleaning and keeping these items in tip top shape is an easy task. Ships wheels are among the most prized presents for those who enjoy things related o the vast ocean, as well as children who may be fascinated with objects of the sea or sailors and pirates.

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