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History

Boston Harbor Auctions has been organizing auctions and selling maritime antiques since 1992.

In 1967 Larry Lannan was introduced to maritime antiques in the basement of his Quincy, Massachusetts home.

After selling his business, South Shore Wholesale Tire, Joseph G. Lannan, Jr. (1926-2011), a former merchant mariner and graduate of Mass Maritime Academy, began selling model boats and nautical antiques in the basement of the home he shared with his wife Kathie and two sons, Joe and Larry.

Larry and Joe worked with their dad fixing model boats, interacting with clients and polishing brass.   Growing up around model boats, Joe and Larry learned a lot about antiques and the history of yachting while working for their dad and soon developed strong entrepreneurial skills with a steadfast and dedicated work ethic. Joe Lannan took the boys on buying trips to antique markets and frequented maritime museums where their knowledge of the market and it’s merchants grew; cementing the roots of the maritime business within the family.

And the Lannan maritime roots are deep!

Migrating from Ireland, mariner George Lannan (c. 1809-1889) settled in Prince Edward Island Canada where he and his wife Ellen (c. 1819- 1884) had three children. The only boy, Joseph Lannan (b. 1834-1881) also a mariner by trade, married Matilda McDonald (b.1839-1920) and began a family in 1860, eventually raising 5 boys between Charlottetown, PEI and Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Around 1875, three generations of Lannans settled in South Boston, Massachusetts

The third boy born of Joseph and The third boy born of Joseph and Matilda, Joseph Alexander Lannan (b. 1865-1920), became a famous heavyweight fighter who toured with and was the choice sparring partner ofJohn L. Sullivan.

In addition to Sullivan, “Irish Joe” fought many other great heavyweights in the States such as Jim Corbett, Jake Kilrain, Patsy Cardiff and was one of the few brave enough to go up against George Godfrey, a black fighter from his hometown of Charlottetown. 

n the late 1890s, Joe moved to the seaside resort town of Hull, Massachusetts where he was the proprietor of many hotels and resorts on Nantasket Beach. The hotels were furnished with their own model boats that were also sold in the gift shoppes. It was in Nantasket where he and his wife, Margaret Mooney (1866-1947), had three children, the only boy being Joseph Gilbert Lannan, Sr. (1898-2000). 

Joseph Lannan Sr. married Janet Sieberg, daughter of Jacob Sieberg (Jēkabs Zībergs (1889-1963), “Father of American Letts”.   Joseph Sr. and Janet settled in Milton, Massachusetts after Joseph G. Lannan, Jr. (first owner of the Lannan Ship Model Gallery) was born in 1926

While growing up in Milton, Massachusetts, Joeseph Lannan, Jr. entered the merchant marine and within 9 years he toured the world landing in 42 countries. He began a small collection of his findings during his years on the water and when his boys were young, he decided that he’d like to own a ship model of a freighter to remind him of his days in the merchant marine.

When Larry was about 11 years old, he and his father walked into the antique store of Samuel L. Lowe on Charles St. in the Beacon Hill section of Boston.  As Larry states, “It was a rite of passage to be thrown out of Sam Lowe’s shop”.  Joe Lannan asked Sam Lowe if he had any freighter models and Sam curtly replied that he had none. Undiscouraged, Joe noticed a nice clipper ship high on a mantle and asked Sam how much the clipper was. Sam responded, “You don’t want to buy that, why are you asking? You can’t afford that!”. Joe left the shop having purchased nothing from Sam Lowe and instead found famous model builder Peter Ness of East Boston who now has models in the Smithsonian.  Joe bought models from Peter Ness and others and proved himself a collector without the help of Sam Lowe and eventually decided that he’d like to try and see if he could make a living selling marine art and ship models, thus Lannan Ship Models was born.

In 1977, after many years of hauling and selling models for his dad, Larry and his brother Joe maintained their father’s business by selling model boats while working at the Chart House in Boston. During this time the Lannan brothers opened a pie stand in the historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston, the largest tourist attraction in New England. While the brother’s together partnered both businesses, they eventually made a decision to split and each take one of the businesses to run separately.

Joe took the pies and Larry took the boats, first selling out of his homes in Dedham & Westwood and eventually out of a loft space on Thayer St. in Boston’s South End.

In 1992 Larry opened his second shop, a 6,000 square foot store in the Russia Wharf building on the corner of Congress St. at 540

Atlantic Avenue in the Financial/Waterfront district of Boston, now called “Atlantic Wharf” and the former Gallery space has been converted to the great Jody Adams restaurant TRADE. After over 10 years, a development project re-located the gallery across the street to the 99 High St. office tower. Lannan Gallery re-located in Janury 2017 to 483 Washington Street, Norwell MA, where the 45 year old, family business 

The current Lannan Ship Model Gallery is a 6,000 square foot store that houses quality model boats and the finest nautical antiques and unique decorative wares found. The gallery hosts auctions for Boston Harbor Auctions several times each year, specializing in high end nautical antiques and maritime art.

Written by Susan Donnelly