Guernsey’s going down to the sea for maritime treasures July 19-20

maritime treasures

James E. Buttersworth (1817-1894), ‘A Gaff Rigged Racing Cutter,’ circa 1893, oil on canvas, 12in. x 20in. Estimate: $50,000-$70,000. Guernsey’s image

NEW YORK – Guernsey’s will conduct a massive nautically themed auction focusing on great ocean liners, majestic sailing ships and other maritime-related treasures on July 19 and 20 at Newport, Rhode Island’s renowned International Yacht Restoration School. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

While a number of lots in the sale will be coming directly from the IYRS, several important private collections constitute the bulk of items to be sold. These include the former collection of noted maritime author Mark D. Warren, the Sam Taylor and George McMath collections, and items from the collection of the late accomplished wreck diver, Bart Malone. The categories of items in the sale will include marine art, rare artifacts and ephemera and fine ship models.

Of great interest to many collectors and enthusiasts will undoubtedly be Ella White’s walking stick. A Titanic survivor, White made her way during the chaos of that fateful April 15, 1912 evening into a lifeboat carrying her black enameled walking stick complete with an amber-colored Bakelite, battery-illuminated crown. Walter Lord, in his landmark book A Night to Remember, wrote “Mrs. J. Stuart (Ella) White didn’t help row No. 8, but she appointed herself a sort of signalman. She had a cane with a built-in electric light, and during most of the night she waved it fiercely about …” attempting to signal rescue ships.

White was a star witness in court hearings that followed where newspapers recounted her tale of the illuminated walking stick (cane). It could be argued that Mrs. White’s walking stick is far and away the most significant item ever recovered that had been on the Titanic. Remarkably, that walking stick remained with her family which now, more than a century later, has consigned it to Guernsey’s.

Though the Titanic is clearly the most fabled of all ocean liners (and there will be several important items from the Titanic in addition to the walking stick), this auction also features iconic objects from a wide array of other noteworthy ships including the Lusitania, the Normandie, the SS United States and the ill-fated Andrea Doria. Liner treasures including rare porcelain from ships ranging from the White Star Line to the nuclear-powered Savannah, a unique SS United States exercise device, an Empress of Ireland porthole and the bronze quarter deck bell from the Normandie will be sold without minimum (below).

maritime treasures

Bronze quarterdeck bell from the historic French ocean liner Normandie. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000. Guernsey’s image

Rare posters, menus and ships’ logs constitute some of the ephemera in the event, while beautiful oil paintings by such luminaries as James Buttersworth and Antonio Jacobsen head the lineup of featured artists.

maritime treasures

Color lithograph poster from the United States Line, framed under glass, 40in. x 27in. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000. Guernsey’s image

Nearly 100 hand-crafted ship models will be sold ranging from massive, cased builder’s steamship models, elegant America’s Cup sailboat models onto exquisite “extreme miniature models” (1/16 inch: 1 foot’) built by the legendary late English builder Donald McNarry and American craftsman Lloyd McCaffery. Widely sought after, these latter models are coming from the IYRS collection with proceeds going to the school internationally known for keeping alive centuries-old boat building skills.

maritime treasures

Speedboat model Dixie II, 1905 Gold Cup winner, planked mahogany hull with details, mounted into a free-standing case with matching table, 50in. tall x 17in. deep x 83in. long. Estimate: $5,000-$7,000. Guernsey’s image

What certainly will be one of the highlights of the auction will be the sale of a 23-foot 10-inch meticulously crated sailboat made by IYRS students to the exacting standards of a Nathaniel Herreshoff design. This is only the third example of this Herreshoff boat, known as Wee Winn, ever built. It was Herreshoff’s creations that led to the building of magnificent yachts that dominated America’s Cup competition from 1893-1920. His smaller crafts, considered by many as the very epitome of yacht design, are treasured family possessions, passed along from one generation to the next. The sleek and beautiful sailboat to be sold was hand-built by the school’s most experienced students and staff over the course of a school year. A true nautical treasure, the proceeds from the sale will go, in their entirety, to supporting the education of future boat builders. For the complete history of this beautiful boat, along with photographs of the boat while it was being built at IYRS, visit

maritime treasures

Edmund Lewandowski (1914-1998), ‘Charleston Marina, 1988, watercolor on paper, 17in. x 25in. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000. Guernsey’s image

While many choose to bid at auction today via the internet, this Guernsey’s Nautical Auction will be conducted within IYRS’s classic boatbuilding facilities only yards from Newport Harbor. For details information, call Guernsey’s at 212-794-2280.