Bonhams will auction a 1917 Curtiss MF Seagull Flying Boat April 13 in New York. Owned by the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio, the flying boat will be the first vintage plane auctioned in Manhattan, and it is expected to bring between $300,000-500,000.
Designed by Glenn Curtiss, the Seagull is one of the Curtiss company’s greatest achievements. As part of the celebrations surrounding the auction, the aircraft will be on public view in the Sculpture Garden Atrium at 590 Madison Avenue from Saturday, April 3, to Tuesday, April 13.
The MF was first developed in 1917 from the original F model, a Curtiss flying boat design the United States Navy had been using since 1912-13. Standing for “Modernised F-boat” (MF), it proved an excellent trainer and by 1921 87 MFs were in service with the Navy.
After World War I, not all MFs were needed, so many were sold off as surplus, and the Curtiss company converted a number to the MF Seagull configuration, with increased horsepower and additional seating. Notably, Howard Hughes took his first flight in a Curtiss MF in 1926 and one of the first buyers of the MF Seagull was Sid Chaplin, Charles’ brother.
This particular Seagull was built in the Philadelphia dockyards, and was the 61st built in a batch of 9-. It almost certainly was stationed as a Naval trainer in Pensacola or Atlantic City, before being released as surplus in 1923 or 1924. After that, it seems the plane had one owner, William Long, who based the Seagull in Sandusky Bay, Ohio, and made frequent trips to Cedar Point Amusement Park with joyriders and sightseers. In 1945 Long refurbished the Seagull and donated the aircraft to Cleveland’s Frederick C. Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum. It has been on display at the Western Historical Reserve Society, and was retired from public exhibition in recent times.
For more information: Bonhams.com