JP Morgan's Poker Chips and Sterling Silver Lamp Fetch over $65,000 each at Boston Harbor Auctions May Sale.

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An amazing sale at Boston Harbor Auctions May auction of financier J. Pierpont Morgan's personal items from his yacht "Corsair"

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J. Pierpont Morgan's personal yacht china by Minton

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Hundreds of bidders from all over the world expressed great interest in the former possessions of financier J. Pierpont Morgan. Over two-hundred pieces of custom chinaware by Minton as well as personal accessories and decorative ornaments from Morgan’s personal yacht “Corsair,” built in 1890, were sold with great success! Morgan once publicly declared “No price is too great for a work of unquestioned beauty.” This sentiment is remarkably sustained through the pieces showcased in the sale. These former possessions of JP Morgan were the finest that could be procured in the 19th century.
Most all of the pieces had never been seen in public since they were purchased by Morgan, himself.

A stunning set of ivory poker chips sparked a bidding war that eventually reached $66,000.00. The complete set of chips, once used aboard Morgan’s private steam yacht “Corsair,” set into a mahogany box with sterling silver letters and cloisonne flags in the likeness of the New York Yacht Club burgee and the Morgan House private signal flag were manufactured by the elite giftware company Black, Starr & Frost. Many of the worlds most powerful men wagered with these chips. Morgan was known to enjoy playing poker with President Taft, Henry Frick, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and other captains of industry.

220 pieces were from the Corsair when she was Flagship of the New York Yacht Club in 1897 while Morgan served as Commodore. JP Morgan ate from this china, drank from these glasses. This set was custom produced for Morgan exclusively and used only during the short 2 years of his Commodoreship. The china was used onboard to entertain friends, club members, business associates and the social elite.
The other pieces were emblazoned with the New York Yacht Club burgee crossing staff with the Morgan house flag with a banner beneath reading “Corsair”. It was a toss up between those who preferred the house flag to those who preferred the Flagship flag.

Dinner plates, dessert plates, salad plates, tea cups and saucers, were on hand yet many unusual pieces were included such as 14 asparagus platters that housed horizontal wells for hollandaise, and 10 oyster platters to hold a half-dozen oysters, both of which were very hot items and when the sale was finished none remained. The 8 unusual butter-pats, 3” in diameter all sold at prices from $780 to $2040 a piece!

The biggest stunner during the sale was the 6” tall Corsair tea-pot sold to a collector that brought $42,000.00
Other porcelains brought strong results such as $3,500 for a small creamer, serving platters at $35,000 and $37,000, a water pitcher at $5,500.

The Morgan crest, depicted on his yachting flag is white crescent moon with a single star on a red field. Many of the Morgan accessories were either adorned with the crest or shaped in the likeness of the crest; For example a silver Tiffany cigar cutter that sold to an ecstatic bidder for $35,000, had the single star fashioned as a match stick holder and was connected to a crescent moon shaped ashtray with the JPM monogram on top. Estimated at $25,000 - $35,000, the sterling silver lamp with a mystical dolphin wrapped around the moon and star brought over $61,000 to an online bidder. Did Morgan use this lamp to illuminate his desk when orchestrating the bailout of 1895? “quote”

Another highlight of the auction were the pieces of Dorflinger crystal stemware with etched details from the Corsair. Eight cordial glasses were split into lots of two and the two whiskey tumblers, sold separately fetched a collective $30,000.00. “Just to know that Morgan sipped from these glasses with many elite figures of the Gilded Age is mindblowing!”
From these glasses Morgan and his friends may have drunk scotch from bottles out of his private cellar, one of which made it to the sale and fetched $7500.00 The Edinburgh scotch bottle, adorned with the J&G Stewart label, had a second label reading: “From the cellar of J. Pierpont Morgan 1837-1913. A Souvenir to his friends, 1915”.

The auction was held at the famous Lannan Ship Model Gallery showroom in Boston, also home of Boston Harbor Auctions with auctioneer Peter Coccoluto at the podium. Priced quoted include 20% buyer’s premium. Lobster rolls and bloody marys circulated through the energetic crowd who were all eager to see how high the next lot would reach.


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Larry Lannan

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