The Napoleonic Wars changed the history of warfare, in particular through France's refusal to honor the tradition of prisoner swaps, thus vastly increasing the number of prisoners of war. France also imprisoned all English males on French soil, which went against the custom of only arresting active combatants. The British followed suit; thus, there were an estimated 80,000 French prisoners interned in Britain during the war. Left to their own devices, prisoners occupied themselves with the traditional handicrafts of soldiers and sailors, such as carving, whittling, and fancy ropework. This pastime soon turned into a mini economy. France gave their prisoners a small salary, so prisoners used that money to buy supplies from the British officers who then either purchased the carvings from the prisoners or brought in others to buy.
The present Man-of-War is one of the more finely crafted specimens especially since it is in its original straw marquetry box. Straw marquetry was another hobby of the imprisoned, so this ship model demonstrates the creative skills of its maker as well as his ability to barter for some of the best supplies (mirrors, straw, wood, bone, parchment).