Growing up in Nazi-occupied Netherlands, young Benno Brenninkmeyer developed an interest in the ocean as a respite from life in his war-torn country.
After the war his family immigrated to the United States, but Benno never lost interest in the ocean. He went on to earn a doctorate in oceanography, become a professor at Boston College, and build a collection of “all things marine.”
Brenninkmeyer died last September at 71 in Hawaii where he and his wife, Linda, lived after his retirement.
His 240-lot collection of rare marine instruments, whaling and scrimshaw items, ship models, books, and prisoner-of-war artifacts, will be offered at Eldred’s on Thursday at 10 a.m., the first of a two-day Maritime Arts Auction at the East Dennis gallery.
Highlighting the collection is an early-19th-century cased Napoleonic prisoner-of-war bone ship model. The 13-inch-high, 16-inch-long model, which has a $30,000-$40,000 estimate, is an example of objects made by French captives interned in English camps during Napoleon’s war with Britain in the early 1800s. To pass the time, prisoners would create objects out of whatever items were available, whether it be mutton bones left over from their rations, bits of straw, or scraps of wood.
Among the rare instruments are an 18th-century English brass universal equinoctial ring dial used to determine the time of day ($2,000-$3,000) and an 18th-century boxwood and walnut quadrant with inlaid metal diamond-form ornamentation ($3,500-$5,000).
Whalebone items are as varied as a 19th-century whalebone and ivory double swift ($3,000-$5,000) to a rare 19th-century whalebone, brass, and wood toilet paper holder ($1,000-$1,500).
The collection also features more than 90 lots of books, including the first American edition of “A Journal of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean and in Quest of a North-West Passage Between Asia and America: Performed in the Years 1776, 1777, 1778 and 1779” by John Ledyard (Hartford, 1783). The book, which has a $10,000-$15,000 estimate, was the de facto first work to be protected by copyright in the United States.
Ledyard (1751-89), a native of Groton, Conn., who left Dartmouth College in 1773 after his freshman year to explore the world, became a legendary adventurer. In 1776 he served on Cook’s voyage to the Pacific, where the English astronomer and explorer was killed in 1779 in the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii). Ledyard died in 1788 in Egypt while on an expedition to explore northern Africa.
A logbook of Flying Cloud, the famous clipper ship built by Donald McKay at East Boston in 1851, is another important offering and expected to bring $7,000-$9,000. Kept daily by Captain Alexander Winsor, the logbook outlines the seventh voyage of the Flying Cloud, which started from New York on Dec. 9, 1859, and ended on Jan. 5, 1862, in London, where the vessel was sold to British interests.
Highlighting Friday’s 10 a.m. session is a 12-by-16-inch oil painting of a yacht racing scene by the British-born American artist James Edward Buttersworth (1817-94). The estimate is $40,000-$60,000.
The sale includes 47 scrimshaw whale’s teeth, topped by a mid-19th-century 6½-inch tooth featuring an American spread-wing eagle clutching a red, white, and blue shield in its talons and red, white, and blue banner in its beak. The estimate is $30,000-
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James D. Julia’s first-of-summer auctions, the June 19-20 Lamp & Glass Auction and June 21 Toy, Doll & Advertising Auction, grossed more than
$3.3 million. Topping the Lamp & Glass Auction, which totaled more than
$2.1 million, were the rarest of all lamps ever made by Pairpoint and a hanging lamp with one of the most popular patterns ever created by Tiffany Studio. Each sold for $77,025.
Pairpoint’s Puffy Owl table lamp, one of only eight known to exist, featured an exaggerated blown-out molded shade resting on a statuesque owl-shaped metal base. It had a $40,000-
$60,000 estimate, while the Tiffany lamp with a fiery orange, yellow, and amber curtain border pattern had a $20,000-$30,000 estimate.
An 8-inch vase decorated with purple iris flowers by the French maker Galle was the top-selling vase, bringing $21,330 against a $14,000-$16,000
Other top sellers included a Webb English cameo vase in an Oriental pattern and a French Argy-Rousseau pate-de-verre vase decorated with maidens picking fruit. Each brought $18,960 against $8,000-$12,000 estimates.
A French Daum Nancy vase with wheel-carved red poppies fetched $14,220 against a $12,000-
$15,000 estimate, and a blue and deep purple presentation vase decorated with an Art Nouveau silver overlay pattern of flowers, which Frederick Carder, a cofounder of Steuben Glass, gave to his friend John Northwood, the English glassmaker, went for $13,055 against an $8,000-$12,000 estimate.
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A rare fortune-telling machine with its original Edison cylinders that provided a voice for Esmeralda, the gypsy fortune-teller, topped Julia’s Toy, Doll & Advertising Auction which totaled more than $1.2 million. By an unknown maker but probably of 1920s/’30s vintage, it sold for $43,845 against a $35,000-$40,000 estimate.
Another rarity, a 15½-inch-high salesman’s sample of a barber’s chair made by Koken Co. of St. Louis, brought the second-highest price of $35,550, more than doubling the low of its $16,000-$20,000 estimate.
An unusual machine, the Multiscope,
probably made for an exposition or fair, brought $33,189 or more than eight times the low of its $8,000-
$12,000 estimate. The 65-inch oak cabinet had four fish-eye glass lenses on the front façade allowing several persons to view the typical mutoscope reel at one time.
The top-selling toy also brought $33,189. It was the circa 1910-15
battleship by Marklin, the premier German toy maker, and named for the HMS Russell that sank off Malta in 1916 after striking mines laid by a German submarine. The estimate was $25,000-$45,000.
A rare character toy, the Japanese-made wind-up Popeye-Air-O-Plane with Popeye in goggles, ready to take off, sold along with its original box to an Asian museum for $11,257 against a $2,500-
A 31-inch “DEPOSE E. 14. J.” doll by the French maker Jumeau and a pair of 1850s era glass-eyed papier-mâché dolls dressed as a bride and groom each sold for $5,332, the top doll price. The Jumeau doll had a $3,000-$5,000 estimate and the bride and groom a $4,500-$6,500 estimate.
Virginia Bohlin can be reached at