The second in a series of enormous steam yachts named Corsair was built for J.P. Morgan in 1890 by Neafie & Levy of Philadelphia, replacing an earlier craft used by the financier as a ferry between his Hudson River estate and office on Wall St. In 1897 the 241-ft. Corsair II became the flagship of the famed New York Yacht Club when Morgan was elected Commodore; in 1898 it was bought by the government and renamed the USS Gloucester, serving as a gunship in the Spanish-American War. Morgan, who commissioned an even larger Corsair to replace it, entertained great men of the day from Teddy Roosevelt and Thomas Edison to Mark Twain aboard the floating mansions fitted with every possible luxury.
Corsair with a Flagship banner. Some 220 pieces of it will be included in an historic sale of nautical curiosities from the various Corsairs and more at Boston Harbor Auctions on May 1. Other items from Morgan’s collection include a silver Tiffany & Co. cigar cutter designed in the Corsair’s crescent and star motif; his mahogany poker set complete with ivory chips; Boston-made brass ship’s clocks; embroidered table linens; specially bottled Scotch whisky and engraved tumblers; canvas covered wicker provisions trunks; and even a classic wooden launch from the Corsair III (pictured below in front of the NYYC in Newport). Not a bad haul….
Jared Paul Stern is the editor of Driven.
All photos courtesy Boston Harbor Auctions.