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Nautical Antiques Auction - Maine Antiques Digest

Nautical Antiques Auction


Boston Harbor Auctions, Quincy, Massachusetts

Photos courtesy Boston Harbor Auctions

The Lannan Ship Model Gallery, the host of the Boston Harbor Auctions sale held on April 30, was created in 1967 in Quincy, Massachusetts, by Joseph G. Lannan Jr. (1926-2011) in the basement of his home. Lannan, a graduate of Massachusetts Maritime Academy, traveled with his sons, Joe and Larry, to antiques markets. Lannan bought and sold ship models. That business has grown with Larry Lannan into the Boston Harbor Auctions Company and the Lannan Ship Model Gallery, which is now on Purchase Street, near Atlantic Wharf, in Boston. In the compact display space and auction hall, the viewer is surrounded by ship models, paintings, and all manner of things relating to life at sea.

The Aphrodite, designed by Charles Hanscom, was launched in Bath, Maine, in 1898. This cased model of the steam yacht is rigged with three masts; two foremasts are square rigged. The brass fittings on the model include binnacle, wheels, winches, capstan, etc. Mounted in a striking mahogany display case with marquetry inlay, this model measures 65" long x 19" wide x 61" high and sold for $7800.

The top lot of this auction was a striking oil on canvas by Elisha Taylor Baker (1827-1890) depicting the New York Yacht Club steam yacht Stranger. Baker, born in New York City, went to sea in 1851 and began his art career after the Civil War. He became known primarily for his paintings of ships of all kinds. The painting by Baker opened with a solid phone bid of $12,500, and with competition from the Internet and the phones it sold for $17,400 (with buyer’s premium) to a buyer bidding on the phone.

The top lot of the sale was this oil on canvas by Elisha Taylor Baker (1827-1890) depicting the New York Yacht Club steam yacht Stranger. According to notes from the catalog, the yacht is seen “cruising through calm waters past Execution [Rocks] Lighthouse.” Baker was born in New York City and mostly lived in Connecticut. He went to sea after he married in 1851 and then began his painting career after the Civil War. He is known primarily for his accuracy and the luminosity in his paintings of ships, yachts, and steamboats underway. This one opened with a phone bid of $12,500, and with action from buyers on the phone and Internet, the 24" x 42" oil on canvas brought $17,400 from a buyer on the phone. Sideli photo.

A number of diving helmets were offered at the sale, including a homemade one and a David Clark diving helmet designed for shallow water. According to the catalog, the latter example, 17" high x 17" wide, was the last helmet built by D. Clark Enterprises (out of Washington State). There was lots of interest from the floor, phones, and Internet, and a phone bidder won it for $4500. A Morse commercial diving helmet with a serial number of 2823 (breast plate) and bonnet serial number 1536, dating from around 1919, opened with a $3000 bid and sold for $4500. There was considerable excitement and action from the floor and the phones for a DESCO U.S. Navy Mark V helmet. The helmet had a serial number of 1705 and was dated “11/1/44.” It was marked with “U.S.” and the anchor-shaped inspector’s stamp. With matching bonnet, breastplate, and brails, the helmet sold for $6600 after some serious competitive bidding.

Many phone and floor bidders competed for this DESCO U.S. Navy Mark V helmet. The helmet carries serial number 1705 and is dated “11/1/44.” It is stamped with “U.S.” with the anchor-shaped inspector’s stamp and has all matching bonnet, breastplate, and brails. With the oval tag “Diving Equipment & Salvage Co.,” the 62 pound helmet sold for a solid $6600 to a bidder at the sale.

Midway through the auction, a large (8'2" long) English folk art trade sign, carved from pine on both sides in the form of a fish, complete with gills, eyes, and snout, achieved $2760 (est. $2500/3500).

A French 74-cannon warship model of Orion had an engraved plate: “Orion / Vaisseau de 74 canons / Construit a Rochefort 1784 / sur plans de J. N. Sane / Echelle 1/75.” This 54" long x 22" wide x 40" high model opened for bidding at $2000 and with phone bidders and left bids sold quickly for $2880. A model of the Cormorant by model master Robert Innis of Cape Cod, who made his replicas with only one arm and the use of a prosthetic, was well rigged. With standing and running cords, it measured 36" long x 8" wide x 35" high and sold for $2640.

A detailed model of the historic U.S.S. Constitution, “Old Ironsides,” was offered early in the auction. The replica was in a glass case on a marquetry mahogany inlaid table stand, and details included cannons on carriages, stovepipe, rope coils, and powder casks. Bidding opened at $4000, and it sold for $5100.

This stylish ship model, a detailed model of the U.S.S. Constitution, “Old Ironsides,” came in a glass case with a table stand. Details include cannons on carriages, pumps, a longboat, gratings, stovepipe, rope coils, powder casks, and a mahogany display case with marquetry inlay. The model opened for bidding at $4000 and sold quickly for $5100.

There was a finely crafted model of the tugboat Edmond J. Moran, which, according to the catalog, was a famous vessel serving as a New York harbor tugboat and as a Navy tug. The model had turned brass fittings, a hull with a planked deck, and a red cabin with brass portholes. Two lifeboats hung from davits. There was lots of interest in this model, and it sold to a customer at the sale for $2400.

A model of the circa 1851 schooner yacht America was offered late in the sale. Bidding opened at $2250 with a left bid and quickly reached $5700. The model was housed in a custom mahogany case on a raise-panel table stand. This model was of the first winner of the America’s Cup. The hull was copper sheathed below the waterline. The planked deck carried a cockpit with floorboards and benches, companionway, hatches, and skylight; the raked masts were fitted with a full suit of finely stitched linen sails. The catalog included a lively short summary of the famous race:

“The race was held on August 22, 1851, with a 10:00 A.M. start for a line of seven schooners and another line of eight cutters. America had a slow start due to a fouled anchor and was well behind when she finally got under way. Within half an hour, however, she was in fifth place and gaining. The eastern shoals of the Isle of Wight are called the Nab Rocks. Traditionally, races would sail around the east (seaward) side of the lightship that marked the edge of the shoal, but one could sail between the lightship and the mainland if they had a knowledgeable pilot. America had such a pilot and he took her down the west (landward) side of the lightship. The result of this tactic put America in the lead. She held this lead throughout the rest of the race. At one point the jib boom broke due to a crew error, but it was replaced in 15 minutes. On the final leg of the race the yacht Aurora closed but was 18 minutes behind when America finished shortly after 6:00 P.M. Legend has it that while watching the race, Queen Victoria asked who was second and received the famous reply: ‘There is no second, your Majesty.’ Dimensions: 57" L x 18" W x 78" H (w/ table) Weight: over 150 lbs.”

This model of the circa 1851 schooner yacht America has a copper-sheathed hull below the waterline, planked deck, floorboards, benches, and skylight. The model is mounted in a custom mahogany display case with a raised-panel table. It opened at $2250 with a left bid and sold
for $5700.

A builder’s model half-hull, described in the catalog as “splendid” because of its detailed craftsmanship, was a model of the steamship Victoria, which traveled between Folkestone, England, and Boulogne, France. The ship was built in London, launched on July 20, 1861, and owned by South Eastern Railway Co. The model, constructed of rosewood and thin satinwood between the layers, possessed an outstanding figurehead and well-carved fleur-de-lis trailboard. The 63" long x 4" wide x 17" high model sold quickly for $3000.

Although there were some quiet spots, Boston Harbor Auctions held a successful sale with many collectors and a few dealers present. A few weeks after the sale, Lannan said that the exquisite and highly estimated Peter Ness models were “my one disappointment of the sale, and they are still available and on display at the gallery.” For more information, see ( or call (617) 451-7447.

Described in the catalog as monumental, this is a polished aluminum marine beacon with a Fresnel glass lens in a bronze frame. With a hinged top with the maker’s badge from AGA, it measures 40" high x 27" diameter and weighs 216 pounds. The beacon sold to a buyer at the sale for $5400.

J.P. Morgan’s yacht Corsair was represented at the auction by this magnificent model of his 1890 steam yacht. The yacht model has masts and booms, standing and running rigging, anchors, winch, deck lights, paneled deck houses, and more. The hull, finished in black, green, and matte varnish, is mounted on two turned brass columns on a mahogany baseboard. Overall dimensions are 88" long x 13" wide x 45" high. The Corsair steamed out of the auction for $7800.

This elegant model for the famous steam yacht Corsair II with detailed masts and booms, anchors, anchor davits, winch, deck lights, paneled deck houses, doors and windows, and deck rails was offered midway through the auction. The hull was finished in black, green, and matte varnish. It is mounted on two turned brass columns in an inlaid mahogany framed glass case and table. The 240' Corsair II was built by Neafie & Levy of Philadelphia for J. P. Morgan and was considered the finest of her day. Guests aboard her included Thomas Edison, Kaiser Wilhelm, and President Roosevelt. With lots of phone and floor action, this stylish and elegant model sold for $6000.

This 6' long, highly detailed model of the 1904 schooner yacht Atlantic opened with a $2000 left bid. There was plenty of interest in this model, which includes winches, ventilators, companionways, masts, booms, and rigging as well as linen sails. The model sold quickly for $4200.

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