Historic Frank’s Fisherman

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Frank’s Fisherman, located on San Francisco’s waterfront, was established in 1946 and began as a chandlery for the bay area’s commercial fishing fleet.

Frank’s Fisherman, San Francisco, CA, 1970s.
Frank’s Fisherman, San Francisco, CA, 1970s.
A scratch built ship model of La Flore Americaine in case, 55″ x 24.5″ x 45.75″.
A scratch built ship model of the frigate La Flore du Americana, by Jean Boudroit, mounted in glazed case, 45.75″ x 55″ x 24.5″.
Estimate: $6,000–$8,000

For nearly five decades, Frank’s Fisherman was a cornerstone of Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, CA. Founded in 1946, the store transformed under the ownership of 4th generation San Franciscan brothers, Ken and Ron Brown, who purchased the store in 1977. From then on, Ken and Ron began what became a lifelong passion for researching, collecting and selling maritime antiques. With a mission of maintaining a sense of history, the brothers remained an integral part of the Wharf for 47 years, focusing on important 18th and 19th century maritime and scientific antiques.

A massive scratch built paddle wheel steamship model ‘California, built by Tom Fordham (d. 2004), Scale 1/4″+1’.
A massive paddle wheel steamship model of the SS California, scratch built by Tom Fordham (d. 2004), scale 1/4″+1’, mounted in a glazed case, 37.5″ x 63″ x 19.25″. 
Estimate: $6,000–$8,000
Ken and Ron Brown, late 70s.
Ken and Ron Brown, late 1970s.

Renowned for their expertise, the brothers were a trusted resource for museums and private collectors alike. Their recent closure in February 2024 marked the end of an era, but their legacy lives on in their remarkable collection. The store featured an unusual mix of artifacts, making Frank’s Fisherman the destination spot on Fisherman’s Wharf for collectors and travelers from around the world. Clars is honored to present a curated selection from the Frank’s Fisherman collection in The Maritime Sale on April 18th.

A waterline ship model of Elin Maria in case.
A cased waterline ship model of the Elin Maria, 29″ x 44″ x 15″.
Estimate: $2,000–$4,000

Highlights include an American carved eagle from New Hampshire, estimated at $4,000–$6,000; a Japanese silk and metallic thread commemorative embroidery of the U.S.S. Chattanooga, estimated at $2,500–$3,500; a waterline ship model of the Elin Maria in case, estimated at $6,000–$8,000; and a magnificent scratch-built paddle wheel steamship model of the ‘California,’ crafted by Tom Fordham (d. 2004) at a scale of ¼″ + 1′, estimated at $6,000–$8,000.

An American carved eagle.
An American carved folk art barn eagle, circa 1930.
Estimate: $4,000–$6,000
A Japanese silk and metallic thread commemorative sailor's silk embroidery: U.S.S. Chattanooga.
A Japanese silk and metallic thread commemorative sailor’s silk embroidery: U.S.S. Chattanooga.
Estimate: $2,500–$3,500

The Maritime Sale will also include a small collection of amusement park collectibles, featuring two iconic items from the legendary San Francisco’s Playland at the Beach: an elephant animatronic character supporting a globe, and a whimsical larger-than-life paper mache head of a man/boy with large ears.

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