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updated March 29, 2005
Clarence Mackay's Art, Armor & Tapestry
Images displayed below are courtesy of the Higgins Armory Museum
Armor, German,
1525
Armor, German,
1550
Jousting Armor,
German, 1560
Click to view mounted
Jousting Armor,
German, 1620
    Germain Seligman, in his fascinating and revealing book, Merchants of Art, 1880-1960, details the difficulties his art firm experienced during 1939-1940 in disposing of Clarence Mackay's great collection of art, armor and tapestries. Mr. Mackay made his first purchase of arms and armor in 1906. He made his last purchase in 1937. His collection was known for its' quality and diversity. He had paid huge prices for his acquisitions during the years prior to World War I when New York was known as the art dealer's paradise and even grander prices during the runaway, vastly inflated times of the 1920s. Suddenly, in early 1939, Germain Seligman acting as agent for the executors of the Mackay Estate, not only found himself faced with a depressed art market, but art buying tastes had changed and the markets of Europe were being lost with the onset of World War II.

     But this was a great time to be in the market to purchase arms and armor.
Mr. John Woodman Higgins, an industrialist and armor collector in Worcester, Massachusetts was prepared to buy. This was a win-win situation. The Mackay estate had to sell and Mr. Higgins had a wonderful facility in which to house as much of the Mackay collection as he could buy. And buy he did. Click here for an internet visit to today's Higgins Armory Museum.

     The armor above and below is only a small sample of many of the great treasures that passed from Mackay through Seligman to Higgins during 1939-1940. Mr. Mackay's collection had a world-wide reputation. The technical description, provenance and bibliography that goes with each of these rarities is unfortunately not within the scope of this website but much of it is detailed and illustrated in Stephen V. Grancsay's
Catalogue of Armor, The John Woodman Higgins Armory, privately printed by Davis Press, Inc., 1961 and 1969.

     Wonder what this armor looked like in it's original setting in the Mackay mansion at Harbor Hill in Roslyn, New York? Click here:
siris-archives.si.edu/. Search for "Clarence Mackay", then study pictures 7-17 to get a feel for how this armor was displayed between 1906 and 1938.
Jousting Armor,
German, 1525
Maximilian Armor,
German, 1525
Click to view mounted
Jousting Armor,
German (Nuremberg), 1535
Armor, German
1560
Jousting Armor,
German (Saxon), 1585
Parade Harness,
Italian, 1590
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