Unmissable sail... Nautical memorabilia cruises to a new home at Morphy's

Collecting nautical memorabilia is a surprisingly popular hobby, and so it is that Morphy's auction house has assembled a substantial selection of items for sale for collectors.

In fact over 1,000 artifacts and pieces of ephemera from vintage ocean liners, historic vessels and newer cruise ships will be going under the hammer in an auction which concludes later this month.

Items include: liferings, china, souvenir spoons, photographs, ship models, postcards, advertising materials, prints and other items too numerous to mention.

One of the highlights is a Rookwood Faience Rondel Ship Scene Tile. Surrounded by contemporary ceramic tiles and housed in a contemporary oak frame.

There is some crazing on the Rookwood tile and minor separation between the contemporary tiles but in general it remains in excellent condition and is expected to sell for £2,000-3,000 ($4,650).

Interestingly, three of the top lots are music boxes. Most of these are metal, including an impressive antique handpainted metal Isola Bella music box made some time around 1860. Marked "Guillot" and number "2504", it still plays well and sold for $2,000-4,000.

Enamel Bird music box
Enamel Bird music box (Click to enlarge)

At the same price, but perhaps more pleasing to the eye is an enamel Bird music box from around the same time. It depicts sheep and people in a field and still plays with a wonderful sound when you turn its key (it still has its original key which is unusual as these tend to get lost).

This should make someone a good investment if they can look after it.

The expected top lot is a rare 10-Foot Caronia Model, made by Arthur Henning. This could be the only known example and possibly from one of Cunard's offices in New York City. It has some minor paint loss, wear, and crazing throughout but remains in very good to excellent condition.

Caronia ship model
Caronia ship model (Click to enlarge)

As we've seen in the recent Malcolm Forbes auction, detailed models of ships can be very valuable, so perhaps the $5,000 top estimate here is a bit cautious. The auction takes place on January 22 in Denver, Pennsylvania, USA.

The most valuable nautical collectibles are of course those associated with the Titanic. Collectors may be interested to know that the autograph of the last Titanic survivor Millvina Dean (who was on board the ship as a baby and died in 2010) is currently available.


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