Yachting Porcelain Dinnerware Sets

Having presence lasting over two decades on the Boston Waterfront, the Lannan Gallery relocated it's flagship to the south shore and opened a store in a post and beam Colonial structure built in the 1700s. Turns out, through lots of genealogical substantiation we have learned, it is among the most important historical homesteads in the town of Norwell. Rich in New England history, this home has shared space with several men and women of significance essential to the institutions that shaped this area and influenced the country. One such person who grew up in the space currently occupied by the gallery and pertinent to this narrative, is Davis Collamore whose "recollection of his boyhood home was ever fascinating to him". We are equally fascinated. 

Every now and again we'll pick up either a random piece of pottery or sometimes several matching pieces that have hand painted yacht flags and personal burgees on them. The typical style of the porcelain varied yet the one familiar detail is a molded imprint of two flags crossing staffs at the 12 o'clock position, for example, on a dinner plate.

The club flag of the prestigious New York Yacht Club is the most often seen painted on the dinnerware pieces procured yet still available are others such as Eastern Yacht Club, Larchmont, Corinthian of Marblehead, Oyster Bay & Seawanhaka.

There, in the later part of the 19th century and early 20th, existed a culture of wealth and yacht ownership, rapidly progressing. This decadent lifestyle afforded the shipbuilding, hardware manufacturing and supply trades with reliable economic growth and stability. Steel magnates, bankers, railroad developers and real estate moguls secured by the old money of the founding families, competed to showcase the biggest and most beautiful means of water transport for both work and play. Interior designers grew to be of significance and necessity for the owners and importers of European textiles, furniture and elegant accoutrements were in high demand. As the Gilded Age required the upper class to possess the finest imported goods from Europe and Asia to promote their opulence, many suppliers anchored the American manufacturers market with their own marketing and design ideas. 

One such trade mastermind was Davis Collamore, importer and designer of porcelain, glass and other pottery from his thriving storefront in New York City. Davis supplied the finest artistic porcelain and glass imported from each and every prominent purveyor in the world. Complete dinnerware sets were a standard procurement as entertaining and business accords by means of meal service occurred regularly within the social circles of the elite. Personalized patterns, family crests and personal yacht burgees and squadron flags were among the familiar styles on the special pottery on the table. Collamore sold for Copeland, Spode, Worcester & Minton. After having been established for several years, younger brother Gilman learned the trade and operated an equally successful enterprise in New York. 

In May of 2011, our auction company, Boston Harbor Auctions, held a blockbuster auction selling personal property of J. Pierpont Morgan. The property included a monogrammed sterling silver cigar cutter and sugar shaker from Tiffany & Co., a complete set of ivory poker chips by Black, Starr & Frost, a magnificent one of a kind silver serpentine lamp and a massive set of porcelain dinnerware by Mintons. Along with standard plates and bowls, the service collection was an amassment of over 200 pieces containing fruit plates, massive platters, asparagus plates and cut crystal cordial glasses. Yet the most sought after pieces in the set were the oyster platters, fan shaped triangular dishes with 7 individual wells for a fashionable presentation of the bivalve delicacy to discerning guests, and butter pats, 3" diameter pods for individual butter servings, fetching $1700 to the highest bidder. The value of this porcelain was tethered not simply in the historic value but that the pieces were used aboard J.P. Morgan's personal yachts where he entertained all the captains of industry, inventors, political figures and those from royal families of the day. Each Minton's piece of china in the collection had a painted royal blue rim accented in gold. At the 12 o'clock position was a hand painted image of the personal Morgan house flag or the commodore flag crossing staff with the New York Yacht Club burgee. Many in the allotment were designed when Morgan was Commodore of the New York Yacht Club in 1890. His personal steam yacht "Corsair" was flagship of the club as the practice of the commodore's personal vessel as prime representation of the club is customary.

Subsequently the Lannan Gallery and Boston Harbor Auctions have a deep affection for what we refer to as "yachting china". We have sold porcelain pieces provided by Mintons and marketed by Davis Collamore belonging to distinguished yachtsmen of the Gilded Age such as Alfred Burrage owner of Aztec, Arthur Curtiss James owner of Aloha among others. 

It is a magical coincidence that one of the essential elements of our merchandise catalog plays a role in the history of this house. We are thrilled to know that both Gilman and Davis Collamore began their lives within the walls of our new store. 


Researched & Compiled by Susan Donnelly