Extremely important invitation sent by JP Morgan to attend the 1903 America’s Cup races in New York on board his Yacht Corsair III. The invitation states:
requests the pleasure of
Mr. & Mrs. Laffan
for The Series of races for the
America’s Cup Aug 26th & following
Saturday, Tuesday & Thursday
The Yacht will be in waiting
At foot of West 35th Str.
At not later than 9 o’clock A.M.
R.S.V.P. 23 Wall Street
The invitation is printed on a cream-colored card stock with the New York Yacht Club burgee crossed with the private signal flag of J.P. Morgan intertwined with a ribbon and printed in color. Some of the text is engraved and the remainder is handwritten with black ink. It is interesting to note that the invitation is for the entire set of races for the 1903 America’s Cup.
The Reliance was built for the 1903 America’s Cup as the defender and she was the largest yacht ever built for the America’s Cup to face the challenger Shamrock III owned by Sir Thomas Lipton. This was Lipton's 3rd Challenge for the America’s Cup. The Reliance was designed and built by Nathaneal Herreshoff in Bristol, R.I. Her manager was C. Oliver Iselin and the syndicate members were Cornelius Vanderbilt III, William Rockefeller, and Elbert H. Gary founder of U.S. Steel. The invitation mentions that the first race was scheduled for August 20th but due to weather the first race was postponed to August 22 a Saturday and the second race was held on Tuesday August 25th as indicated on the invitation. The third and final race was postponed from the scheduled date of Thursday the 27th due to weather to September 3rd. Reliance swept all three races and became the successful defender of the 12th America’s Cup.
Note: Corsair (3rd) was designed and built in 1899 for J.P. Morgan by T.S. Marvel in Newburg, New York and was designed by J. Beavor-Webb. She was 304 feet overall in length 33.5 feet in beam and her draft was 16 feet. She was completed in time for the 1899 America’s Cup and since J.P. Morgan was Commodore she became the Flagship for the Club. J.P. Morgan also owed the Yacht Columbia which successfully defended the America’s Cup in both in 1899 and in 1901 which demonstrates Morgan's deep interest and commitment to the America's Cup. . The next Cup race to follow Colombia's two wins was Reliance in 1903. Corsair was probably the most famous power yacht of all time and when asked how much she cost J.P. Morgan replied with the famous quote “If you have to ask the price you can’t afford it.” There were four yachts named Corsair that belonged to the Morgan family. (MI-803)
Reference 1: The Holy Grail of Yachting: The Art of the America’s Cup (1901-1920), Volume IV pages 90-94 by Alan Granby and Janice Hyland printed in 2016 and published by the America 3 Foundation.
Reference 2: The Steam yachts: An Era of Elegance by Erik Hofman and published by John De Graff, Inc. Tuckahoe, N.J. 1970, pages 120-121
Note: Mr. and Mrs. Laffan to whom this invitation was sent were Georgina Radcliffe and William M. Laffan who were married in 1872. William was born in Dublin. He was a close friend and advisor to JP Morgan and assisted Morgan in his art collecting. Laffan was a seasoned newspaper journalist and convinced JP Morgan to purchase the New York Sun and with JP Morgan’s backing in 1887 founded the Evening Sun. Laffan was a great collector in his own right and specialized in Chinese porcelain and engravings. He served on the board of the metropolitan Museum of Art. After Laffan’s death in 1909 JP Morgan gave $100,000 to establish the William M. Laffan Professorship of Assyriology and Babylonian Literature in his memory. Laffan joined the New York Yacht Club May 6, 1901 about two years before Mr. Morgan invited he and his wife to watch the races of the 1903 America’s Cup on board the Corsair.
Condition: The card stock has typical age toning and the color is rich and the card is in excellent condition.
Dimensions: Height 4 1/8 inches, Width 6 1/8 inches