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Antiques & Collectibles: Relics of war and musical instruments

The Forster Flag, the earliest surviving flag incorporating 13 stripes for the 13 Colonies, and named for Samuel Forster of the Manchester Company of the Essex County Militia, will be auctioned by Doyle New York Wednesday with a $1 million-<br/> Doyle New York

Relics of the Revolutionary and Civil wars will go on the auction block this week in New York and Woburn.

The Revolutionary War relic is the Forster Flag, named for Samuel Forster (1739/40-94), a Manchester Minuteman in whose family the flag descended for 200 years. It will be offered Wednesday by Doyle New York.

The earliest surviving flag with 13 stripes for the original colonies, the red silk flag is expected to bring $1 million-$3 million.

According to Forster family history, it was carried by the Minutemen of the Manchester Company of the Essex County Militia when they responded to the alarm from Lexington summoning them to battle. The canton, or top inner quarter, of the flag probably held a British Union Jack before it was replaced by the 13 white stripes.


It was sold in 1975 to the Flag Heritage Foundation, which is now selling it to benefit the Whitney Smith Flag Research Center Library to be established in the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

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The Civil War relic is the desk from the captain’s cabin of the famed USS Kearsarge that will be offered at the George Costopulos estates auction next Sunday at 2 p.m. at Sons of Italy Hall, 168 Lexington St., Woburn.

The 201-foot steam and sail sloop, which was built in 1861 at the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard and named for New Hampshire’s Mount Kearsarge, became famous when in a one-hour and 20-minute battle on June 19, 1864, off the coast at Cherbourg, France, it sank the Alabama, the most successful Confederate raider of the war.

The desk has been consigned by John J. McAleer III of Lexington, whose great-grandfather Private John J. McAleer of Cambridge served as orderly to the Kearsarge’s commander, Captain John A. Winslow (1811-73) of Boston. Winslow, who retired from the Navy as a rear admiral, is buried at Forest Hills Cemetery with a boulder from Mount Kearsarge at the head of his grave.


The desk was given in the 1990s to the consignor by his father, John J. McAleer II (1923-2003) of Cambridge, a professor at Harvard and Boston colleges for more than a half-century, who had been given the desk in the 1940s by his uncle John William McAleer, the eldest son of Private McAleer.

A letter of provenance is included, written on June 26, 1925, noting that the desk was purchased by Thomas J. Silsby, a Boston manufacturer of cordage machinery, at an auction of Kearsarge fittings when the ship returned to Boston in November 1864 for repairs.

The desk was later acquired by Dr. John Dixwell, a Boston surgeon, who served as president of the Kearsarge Naval Veterans Association, and who in 1925 gave the desk to the association’s secretary John William McAleer.

The desk will be sold with documents, photographs, Kearsarge fittings, and other Kearsage memorabilia.

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Three silver pendants made by Pablo Picasso in the 1950s and gifted to his lover the artist Francoise Gilot (b. 1921) were among the 10 top sellers at Skinner’s Fine Jewelry Auction last month, each selling well above their $10,000-$15,000 estimates.

The pendants were consigned by Carole Mallory, who was given them by Gilot in the 1970s when Mallory was the fiancée of Gilot and Picasso’s son, Claude. Gilot and Picasso spent almost 10 years together from 1943-53.


The pendant depicting a satyr sold for $153,000, while the one depicting the sun brought $141,000 and the one depicting Claude $92,500.

The two top sellers were solitaires. The solitaire set with a 6.08-carat cushion brilliant-cut diamond designed by James Claude Taffin de Givenchy, the French-born, New York-based jewelry designer and nephew of fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy, sold for $225,000 against a $200,000-$300,000 estimate. The solitaire prong-set with a 10.02-carat pear-shape diamond brought the second-highest price of $171,000 against a $70,000-$90,000 estimate.

The increased interest and rising prices for pearls was seen in the necklace composed of 253 natural pearls that brought the auction’s sixth-highest price of $98,400, nearly doubling the high of its $30,000-$50,000 estimate.

Other top sellers that soared above their estimates included an archeological 22-karat gold sapphire suite composed of a necklace and two pairs of ear pendants by the New York artist-designer Daniel Brush ($31,980 against $8,000-$12,000) and an Arts & Crafts silver gem-set pendant by Edward Oakes ($27,060 against a $2,000-
$3,000 estimate).

The 580-lot auction grossed
$2.7 million.

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At Skinner’s Fine Musical Instruments Auction next Sunday, this early-19th century European psaltery, a member of zither family, will be offered with a $2,000-$4,000 estimate.Skinner

A circa 1740 Italian violin by Dom Nicolaus Amati and a Les Paul Model of a 1956 Gibson electric guitar are highlights of Skinner’s Fine Musical Instruments Auction to be held next Sunday at noon at its Boston gallery.

The violin has an $80,000-$100,000 estimate and the guitar a $15,000-
$18,000 estimate.


A feature of the sale is a collection of 16 instruments from the estate of Hungarian-born Victor Aitay (1921-2012), a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 50 years, its concertmaster, and considered a legend among string players

The collection includes five violins and 11 violin bows highlighted by a violin ascribed to Samuel Nemessányi (1837-81), considered the most talented and important of the Hungarian School ($12,000-$18,000 estimate).

Estimates for the violin bows range from $3,000-$5,000 for a French gold-mounted bow attributed to Charles Nicolas Bazin to $300-$500 for a German silver-mounted bow.

Also being offered are four viola bows and a violin bow from the collection of violist Barbara Kroll (1930-) including a modern viola bow made in 1947 by Harry L. Stoutenburgh.

An unusual offering is an early-19th-century psaltery, an instrument of the zither family played by plucking the strings and which is housed in a painted case on cabriole legs. The estimate is $2,000-$4,000.

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Virginia Bohlin can be reached at vbohlin@comcast.net.