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Battlecruiser_Yavuz

Authenticiation Help:Piece of the Revolutionary War frigate USS Alliance from J. S. Reigart

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Before I was better at doing research on militaria, I ended up buying a bottle that contains wood from the frigate USS Alliance - one of the first frigates that fought during the Revolutionary War in the Continental Navy. It was supposedly from the Collection of JS Reigart - an individual who collected a lot of material from American history. While the seller in question was hesitant to sell me the item because she didn't have any paperwork concerning its authenticity, my idiot past self pushed her and she sold it to me for a modest price.

This was the item in question: http://www.ebay.com/itm/USS-Alliance...p2047675.l2557

In regards to the Heritage Auctions, I tried searching for the item on my own, but I came up empty handed. That being said, the website is quite hard to work through.

The object is quite big and seems authentic (wood looks old), but I'm aware that such things could be faked. That being said, the USS Alliance isn't that famous of a vessel unless you're a Continental Navy expert...and the wreck was around to the early 1900s until it was finally demolished.

If you can help me confirm its authenticity...or knows somebody who can confirm its authenticity, I would appreciate it. If somebody has a record of the complete collection from JS Reigart, that would be appreciated as well.

Thanks again!

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That would be an odd thing to fake seems to me given that that ship is known by so few people. Fakes are usually things people want and have heard of like Civil War belt buckles.  Lotta fakes there. Few pieces of wood?  Hell I dunno. Pawn Stars expert needed!

It's cool if real however. 

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You might be better off looking up information on the Hancock, which was supposed to be its original name. As you said the wreckage of the ship survived and was accessible in low tide up until the turn of the 20th century, so it is entirely possible that wood could've been gathered by enthusiasts. That said the note that came with the bottle is modern. Wrong ink, wrong spelling and letter structure for the time and it has obvious signs of being aged. It's possible someone did it to fit the theme, but it could also be an indication that you've been had. Wood is one of the easiest objects to artificially age and saying it was from a lesser well known but equally important ship like the Alliance would be easier to believe and with less of a paper trail than one that was from the Constitution. I can also tell you that ships made in New England at the time were comprised mostly of pine and to a much smaller extent oak. You can test the wood to see what species it is and in what period it was originally worked (the composition of the varnish, lacquer or tar will give a pretty telling sign of what era.)

 

You can also look at what other items the seller is offering. It would be more believable if that was the only relic they had, whereas someone who is selling many hard to get, one of a kind items is most likely peddling falsehoods. If he has more take a good hard look at them and compare them with other known historical examples. You can also sign up a new account and message them about another item. If he gives you the same spiel about not having any documents supporting their authenticity then I wouldn't trust it at all.

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I don't get a good feeling from that.

A quick search shows the ship that became the USS Alliance was laid down in 1777 in Amesbury, Massachusetts as the Hancock.

She was not renamed the Alliance till late May 1778.

She left for Europe in 1779 and did not return until September 1780.

Also, from 1775-1785 it was known as the Continental Navy, not the United States Navy.

I can also find no indication that the prefix USS was in use at the time. It did not become standard practice until an executive order by Theodore Roosevelt in 1907.

And don't quote me on this, but I don't think the style of script writing is correct for the 1770's.

*edit*

Though supposedly some of her timbers were still visible at low tide until 1901, so maybe it real. I don't think you will ever be able to 100% authenticate this.

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18 minutes ago, KingCakeBaby said:

You might be better off looking up information on the Hancock, which was supposed to be its original name. As you said the wreckage of the ship survived and was accessible in low tide up until the turn of the 20th century, so it is entirely possible that wood could've been gathered by enthusiasts. That said the note that came with the bottle is modern. Wrong ink, wrong spelling and letter structure for the time and it has obvious signs of being aged. It's possible someone did it to fit the theme, but it could also be an indication that you've been had. Wood is one of the easiest objects to artificially age and saying it was from a lesser well known but equally important ship like the Alliance would be easier to believe and with less of a paper trail than one that was from the Constitution. I can also tell you that ships made in New England at the time were comprised mostly of pine and to a much smaller extent oak. You can test the wood to see what species it is and in what period it was originally worked (the composition of the varnish, lacquer or tar will give a pretty telling sign of what era.)

 

You can also look at what other items the seller is offering. It would be more believable if that was the only relic they had, whereas someone who is selling many hard to get, one of a kind items is most likely peddling falsehoods. If he has more take a good hard look at them and compare them with other known historical examples. You can also sign up a new account and message them about another item. If he gives you the same spiel about not having any documents supporting their authenticity then I wouldn't trust it at all.

 

14 minutes ago, _Luna said:

I don't get a good feeling from that.

A quick search shows the ship that became the USS Alliance was laid down in 1777 in Amesbury, Massachusetts as the Hancock.

She was not renamed the Alliance till late May 1778.

She left for Europe in 1779 and did not return until September 1780.

Also, from 1775-1785 it was known as the Continental Navy, not the United States Navy.

I can also find no indication that the prefix USS was in use at the time. It did not become standard practice until an executive order by Theodore Roosevelt in 1907.

And don't quote me on this, but I don't think the style of script writing is correct for the 1770's.

*edit*

Though supposedly some of her timbers were still visible at low tide until 1901, so maybe it real. I don't think you will ever be able to 100% authenticate this.

I definitely wonder about the writing.  It does match other items from the collection though, though maybe all were touched up modern recreations.  The collection dates till the Civil War, so could writing match that era?:

https://dyn3.heritagestatic.com/lf?set=path[6%2F5%2F8%2F7%2F6587904]%2Csizedata[850x600]&call=url[file%3Aproduct.chain]

458c1b7bf5074bc15f16888be77cc806.jpg

https://dyn1.heritagestatic.com/lf?set=path[6%2F5%2F9%2F7%2F6597903]%2Csizedata[850x600]&call=url[file%3Aproduct.chain]

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7 minutes ago, Battlecruiser_Yavuz said:

The collection dates till the Civil War, so could writing match that era?:

First off, just to be 100% clear, I am certainly not a handwriting expert, or even knowledgeable beyond internet searches..

Does the script match the Civil War era.

Maybe.

There were two writing methods popular at the time, Spencerian Script, and Palmer Script (also known as the Palmer Method)

It might be Palmer Script. I does not look Spencerian to me.

But at the same time I'm wary that the lettering looks exactly like I was taught in school in the early 1990's (not saying its from the 1990, just that the writing look more modern to me).

On thing I can tell you, not that it helps to much, is that the 1st recorded use of the term "Crows Nest" was in 1807. 

 

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1 minute ago, _Luna said:

First off, just to be 100% clear, I am certainly not a handwriting expert, or even knowledgeable beyond internet searches..

Does the script match the Civil War era.

Maybe.

There were two writing methods popular at the time, Spencerian Script, and Palmer Script (also known as the Palmer Method)

It might be Palmer Script. I does not look Spencerian to me.

But at the same time I'm wary that the lettering looks exactly like I was taught in school in the early 1990's (not saying its from the 1990, just that the writing look more modern to me).

On thing I can tell you, not that it helps to much, is that the 1st recorded use of the term "Crows Nest" was in 1807. 

 

It does look a bit like the Palmer script - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmer_Method

I wonder...could all the artifacts be tainted?  It was a large collection after all - https://www.google.com/search?q=JS+reigart&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjMy6qy9NDWAhUU6WMKHb_EAZsQ_AUICygC&biw=1536&bih=756

I'm thinking there is a chance that the ship pieces could've been collected after 1807, but yeah...I wish I wasn't so impulsive about buying it.  I'm kinda leaning toward authentic, but that's because I'm assuming a lot of laymen don't know what the USS Alliance was.  I got it because I knew of the ship - it was the screw-ball who destroyed John Paul Jones' ship :D.

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Sorry to say, but I'm feeling even worse about that item than I was before.

I just went through Heritage Auctions list of past sales from the J.S. Reigart Collection (auctions 6050, 6055, & 6060), and I'm not seeing it listed.

I also noticed that all the labels from the collection I looked at were:

1. Written in print, not script.

2. Underlines were Red not Black

3. Ships are referred to as US Frigate ____, or Ironclad ____, for example, not USS ____.

 

You could try getting in touch with Heritage Auctions to see of they ever sold if.

They apparently have a good reputation. If they sold it its probably authentic.

If it was never a part of one of their auctions, with the number of inconsistencies I think I'm seeing, unfortunately I would say its a fake.

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1 hour ago, _Luna said:

Sorry to say, but I'm feeling even worse about that item than I was before.

I just went through Heritage Auctions list of past sales from the J.S. Reigart Collection (auctions 6050, 6055, & 6060), and I'm not seeing it listed.

I also noticed that all the labels from the collection I looked at were:

1. Written in print, not script.

2. Underlines were Red not Black

3. Ships are referred to as US Frigate ____, or Ironclad ____, for example, not USS ____.

 

You could try getting in touch with Heritage Auctions to see of they ever sold if.

They apparently have a good reputation. If they sold it its probably authentic.

If it was never a part of one of their auctions, with the number of inconsistencies I think I'm seeing, unfortunately I would say its a fake.

Ah man.  I might try and call them to see about authenticity.  I also didn't see any mention of this artifact from the Heritage Auctions as well.

This artifact does look similar to the Alliance bottle - https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/9332042_52259-great-reigart-artifact-from-the-uss-constitution, though it too refers to the ship as a US frigate.  Heck!  I don't see any artifacts that date to Revolutionary War ships since I think a few survived.

I'm slightly holding out that it wasn't fake...partly because the ship is kinda obscure.  The problem is that we don't have any guide to the collection of JS Reigart.  It would be nice to have some sort of catalogue to confirm or deny the identities of the artifacts.

I don't know if this could help, but this is the seller - https://www.ebay.com/usr/eagypsy?ul_noapp=true

This is also what the seller wrote when I first connected with her about the ship:

Hi,
I don't have any paperwork or documents on them. I myself have had them for about 5 years. I bought them from one of the biggest military dealers in the country not long after the Heritage auctions. But I do not own the catalogs from Heritage..these might have been sold in conjunction with the first sale or were sold privately, I am not sure. You can look at the archives on the Heritage website if you sign up with them...
I have been a military and historical antiques dealer for about 35 years and I have no doubt that is where they all came from. All you have to do is look at the labels...the handwriting...everything about them is right as rain.
Best Regards,
Robin

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