The Trust and Benefit Auctions

- Edmund Burke

"In history, a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind."

The Mars & Neptune Trust

Although the The Mars & Neptune is a 501(c)3 nonprofit research- and education-based organization, it funds a substantial portion of its operations through entrepreneurial collaborations that include benefit auctions and private sales of important artifacts consigned by museums, archives and private collectors.  The auctions are organized and curated by the Trust in partnership with Casco Bay Auctions of Freeport, Maine, which conduct and administers the sales, which feature live, telephone, and online bidding on three major platforms. These specialized sales typically consist of museum-quality arms, militaria, artwork, manuscripts and rare imprints relating to the military and naval history of the Age of Exploration, Empire and Revolution (1492-1850), which not coincidentally is the primary time period focus of Trust research and preservation programs in military material culture.  Our next sale, "Dressed to Kill", features the historic costume and uniform collection of James L. Kochan, Trust founding president.  It is scheduled for April 23,2022 at 147 Main Street, Freeport, Maine .

The Trust held its Inaugural Sale of important martial and naval arms, militaria, manuscripts and related early Americana on Saturday, October 19, 2019 in Windsor, Connecticut.  The cataloged sale of 182 lots, which included deaccessions from three museums, resulted in more than $500,000 in hammer prices (not including buyer premiums) for the 151 lots sold, with an additional $65,000 for three lots in accepted post-sale offers.  Leading the sale was the portrait of a colonial American artillery officer painted by William Williams in 1772, which hammered at $55,000, a new record for this important, but obscure English artist working in Philadelphia (1747-1769) and New York (1769-c. 1776) who is credited with being the first painting instructor of Benjamin West.  Other notable sales included an illustrated, 1778 manuscript copy of William Congreve’s "Exercise and Manouvres" for two Light 6 Pounders at $17,000 hammer, Mather Brown’s magnificent oil of Smugglers Pushing Off Their Boat at $25,000 hammer and a French Model 1717 Rampart Musket for $22,500.  We are happy to note that the majority of pieces sold were acquired by American and Canadian museums.  All net proceeds from the auction are dedicated to support Trust programs and those of their partner museums. Copies of the full-color, print catalog are still available for $30.