Clipper Ship Diorama, ca. 1890

Value (2015) | $10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction

It's a family piece. It belongs to my father. And the history behind it goes is that his great-grandfather was Captain Eli of the Rebecca Clyde. It was a merchant ship, clipper ship out of Baltimore Harbor and it sailed down the eastern seaboard towards the Caribbean and down to Rio to pick up goods. And somewhere along the journey, it was lost at sea and they sent out a fleet of recovery ships. And what they found was the mast and some fragments of the boat. And one of the carpenters of the recovery ship was commissioned to make this out of the fragments found and the mast was sent back to Baltimore for insurance purposes.

This is the best of American folk art because there are so many things that are pulling together here. First of all, there's the family history, which is really important to you. Second of all, it's a document of the history of the merchant marine in Baltimore, which is a phase of history that has really passed. Baltimore had the fastest clipper ships that were afloat. And then, it's... it's a beautiful object made from the remains of this boat that came to a terrible end. It fits into a tradition of these sort of shadowbox dioramas that were very popular in the 19th century. But this one has such a strong family history and social history connected to it that the value is going to be even greater than the ordinary run-of-the-mill pieces. With all of that going for it, I think that this piece would be valued somewhere in the range of $10,000 to $15,000.

That's great, my father will be pleased.

It’s great, and I'm so glad to have seen it.

Appraisal Details

New York, NY
Value Update (2015)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Value Update (2013)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Appraised value (1999)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Baltimore, MD (June 19, 1999)
19th Century

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