Tag Archives: auction

Cowan’s Auctions: The Midwest’s Most Trusted Auction House / Antiques / Fine Art / Art Appraisals

Captain D.G. Farragut, Sixth Plate Daguerreotype, Earliest Known Photograph, Ca 1854
Captain D.G. Farragut, Sixth Plate Daguerreotype, Earliest Known Photograph, Ca 1854

On June 13th Cowan’s is offering a remarkable selection of early photographs, letters, documents, flags, political ephemera and more dating from the Revolutionary War-period through the Civil War and beyond, as well as the American West. We are proud to present selections from the Paul DeHaan Collection of items related to Admiral David Glasgow Farragut and his flagship, the U.S.S. Hartford. Additionally, photography from the Tom MacDonald Maine Civil War CDV Collection will also be featured in the auction.

auction notes

Preview Times

Thursday, June 12: 12:00 – 5:00 pm EST

Friday, June 13: 8:00 – 10:00 am EST

Buyer’s Premium for this auction is 17.5[%]

via Cowan’s Auctions: The Midwest’s Most Trusted Auction House / Antiques / Fine Art / Art Appraisals.

Mexican War, Battle of Buena Vista, Letter Containing Graphic Content 6/13/2014 - American History: Live Salesroom Auction 3pp, 7.75 x 9.5 in. Buena Vista Camp near Saltillo Mexico, April 23, 1847. To Mr. George Smith of Frederick, MD from George Toms. In ink, spelling a bit "creative" and for the most part the entire letter is one sentence, but handwriting clear. Toms describes the march from Matamoros to Buena Vista, a distance of about 500 miles.
Mexican War, Battle of Buena Vista, Letter Containing Graphic Content
6/13/2014 – American History: Live Salesroom Auction
3pp, 7.75 x 9.5 in. Buena Vista Camp near Saltillo Mexico, April 23, 1847. To Mr. George Smith of Frederick, MD from George Toms. In ink, spelling a bit “creative” and for the most part the entire letter is one sentence, but handwriting clear. Toms describes the march from Matamoros to Buena Vista, a distance of about 500 miles.

The Auction that Launched the Antiques Trade

As a lover of antiques and of the wonderful LOVEJOY series on the BBC, I was happy to find this article to share. Great information by Wayne Jordan on what is said to be the auction that started it all.
Enjoy!

1 Marlborough Estate

As Captain-Generalcy of the English forces, John Churchill was the commander of the English troops at the Battle of Blenheim in Bavaria (1704). His clever tactics enabled him to beat his French opponents, and the Monarchy awarded him the title Duke of Marlborough and an estate (above) named in recognition of his successful battle at Blenheim.

The antiques business began in July, 1886.

At least, that’s the claim made by author Jonathan Gash in his book “Paid and Loving Eyes” (Penguin, 1993). Gash is the creator of the Lovejoy character, a roguish antiques dealer whose escapades are recounted in more than two dozen novels and 71 BBC television shows.

I enjoyed watching the BBC series (what’s not to like about Ian McShane?), but there was little to be learned about antiques by doing so. That’s not the case with the books, however. Although the Lovejoy novels are works of fiction, Gash (real name John Grant) doesn’t stray far from the facts when he discusses antiques. He devotes a lot of detail—sometimes pages—to describing the antiques that are the catalysts for his stories. He also goes into great detail about how forgeries and fakes are made, and how common they are in the antiques trade. Want to know about 18th-century German snuff boxes? Lovejoy will tell you. Want to fake a Sheraton table or age a freshly painted watercolor? Lovejoy gives up those secrets. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Gash/Grant was an accomplished forger; he seems to know a little too much about how to fake antiques. (He was actually a physician and university professor).

2 John Churchill, the First Duke of Marlborough
John Churchill, the First Duke of Marlborough

So, when I read Gash’s claim that the antiques trade began in July of 1886, I paid attention. I’d never known anyone to try to pin a “start date” on the antiques business. I consulted my old friend Google to check the claim myself. Here’s Gash’s claim, from the above book:

“Once upon a time, antiques were a rarified pursuit for scholars… they spent fortunes, and founded private museums. Until July 1886. In that month, the great antiques hunt began when an auctioneer intoned “Lot One” and the Duke of Marlborough’s Blenheim Palace’s magnificent treasures—art, furniture, statuary—went under the hammer… the Great Antiques Rush was on.”

As it turns out, Gash wasn’t too far off regarding the date and spot-on regarding the contents of the auction. The Duke’s possessions were, in fact, auctioned off over a period of several weeks in late June/early July in 1886. In just a few generations, the Marlborough “dynasty” went from fame and fortune to dissolution under the auctioneer’s hammer.

The first Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, was initially a page in the Court of Stuart. Through his political savvy and a marriage to Queen Anne’s close friend Sarah Jennings, Churchill rose to the Captain-Generalcy of the English forces. When the War of Spanish Succession broke out, Churchill found himself commanding the English troops at the Battle of Blenheim in Bavaria (1704). His clever tactics enabled him to beat his French opponents, and the Monarchy awarded him the title Duke of Marlborough and an estate named in recognition of his successful battle at Blenheim.

John Churchill died in 1722, and his title and property passed through various successors over the next 150 years. The Churchills (and later Spencers), though not among England’s most prosperous families, were well-to-do and spent a considerable sum furnishing Blenheim Palace. The Fifth Duke of Marlborough was a real spendthrift and bought the family right into an awkward financial position. What was awkward for the family, though, turned out to be good for launching the antiques trade in 1886.

3 1st Marlb auction catalogue

The first Marlborough auction catalog from June 1886.

4 2nd catalogue 1886
The second Marlborough auction catalog from July 1886.

5 3rd catalogue 1886
The third Marlborough auction catalog from July 1886.

6 terms of auctions
The terms and conditions of Marlborough auctions.

As the grip of the Industrial Revolution tightened around England’s economy, the “Old World” economy of wealthy landowners and tenant farmers began to collapse. By the turn of the 20th Century, many Peerage estates found themselves in financial difficulty. The fastest way for an estate to raise cash was by selling off their vast collections of art, jewelry and furniture.

By 1870, the family’s financial situation was so bad that the Seventh Duke began to sell off family assets. Real estate (other than Blenheim) was sold, as well as personal property, including the famous Marlborough gems. When the amount raised proved to be insufficient to pay his debts, the Duke petitioned Parliament to break the estate’s entail and allow liquidation of the estate. Under English law, estates were required to follow a strict method of inheritance, called an entail. To accommodate the Duke’s request, an act of Parliament was required. When the Blenheim Settled Estates Act of 1880 was passed, the Duke was free to call an auctioneer and arrange for the liquidation of the estate. The Duke’s descendants, including Sir Winston Churchill and Lady Diana Spencer (“Princess Di”) could claim descendancy from Marlborough but didn’t benefit from the Blenheim money.

7 james christie founder of Christies
A portrait of James Christie, founder of what would become the fames Christie’s auction house.

The Marlborough auction began on Saturday, June 26, 1886, and was conducted by the firm of Christie, Manson and Wood (which would become today’s “Christie’s”) at their London sale rooms. Auctioneer James Christie had started his auction business some 120 years earlier and his company was considered to be London’s finest auction house. In the 18th century, peerage auctions were uncommon, and much of Christie’s trade came from bankrupt merchants and private sales. In the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries, Christie’s became the auctioneer of choice for destitute aristocrats.

The Marlborough sale ran, off and on, for several weeks. Lots offered were furnishings, porcelain, rugs, silver and household goods; plus art and sculptures by Rubens, Van Dyck, Raphael, Rembrandt and others. A catalog of the first day’s sale, preserved by the University of California Los Angeles Library, can be seen here.

The Marlborough auction was certainly the most important auction of its time, but is it a fair assessment to use it as the start date for the antiques trade? I believe that it is, although I’m sure that there are those who think I’m crazy for believing so. In my opinion, it makes as much sense to ascribe June 1886 as the start date for the antiques business as it does to ascribe July 4, 1776, as the date of American Independence. Certainly there had been skirmishes with the British before July of 1776—most notably the battles at Concord and Lexington, and the Boston Tea Party—but in spite of those early skirmishes, we lay claim to the date of July 4, 1776, as the start of our independence. Similarly, there was antique buying and selling going on before June 1886. But the Duke of Marlborough’s auction was the watershed event that brought the antiques trade into general awareness. After that date, antiques were no longer the exclusive province of the gentry.

The turn of the 20th century, would see antique shops cropping up all over Europe, and in America they were found in the seaport towns of New York, Boston and New Orleans. In the 21st century, antiques are in vogue; there are thousands of shops in America alone and countless magazines, books, websites, blogs and television shows that cater to antiques collectors and enthusiasts. As Gash’s Lovejoy says:

“Now we’re all at it. Clever people draw graphs of antiques’ values, starting back in that summer of 1886. Don’t be fooled. It’s not a mathematical proposition. It’s not a philosophy. It’s a scramble.”

Wayne Jordan spent more than 40 years in the music business as a performer, teacher, repairman and music store owner. In 25 years of musical instrument retailing he has bought, sold, rented or repaired thousands of pianos, band & orchestra, combo, and folk instruments. Wayne is currently a Virginia-licensed auctioneer and certified personal property appraiser. For more info, visit Wayne Jordan Auctions.

Reposted from http://www.worthpoint.com

Important Upcoming Auction The Maude Ballou Papers: Martin Luther King’s Handwritten Notes, Writings And Correspondence Among Important Civil Rights Era History

20130918-141610.jpgMartin Luther King, Jr., Autograph Letter Twice Signed.

An unprecedented trove of material relating to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the most famous and influential name in America’s storied Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s — including King’s handwritten notes on eight cards containing the outline of his famed “Dexter Avenue Church Farewell Address,” circa 1960 — will be offered on Oct. 17 as part of Heritage Auctions’ Signature® Historical Manuscripts event in New York.

The material, more than 100 artifacts in all, are coming to auction after more than half a century in the loving possession of 87-year-old Maude Ballou, Martin Luther King Jr.’s close friend and personal secretary.

“The Ballou material provides a ground-level perspective of the civil rights struggle,” says Sandra Palomino, Director of Historical Manuscripts at Heritage Auctions. “The collection brings to light the courage and strength of all its participants. This material, available for the very first time, is unprecedented and illustrates the role of the church and the Reverend King’s leadership.”

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[Martin Luther King, Jr.]. Final Page of the Original “I Have a Dream” Speech with Original Transmittal Note Dated Two Months Before Dr. King’s Death.

As a child growing up in the South during the 1960s, Howard Ballou, Maude’s son, was privileged to witness history. He was just a boy at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement.
“When Dr. King was elected to lead the Montgomery Improvement Association, which led to the Montgomery bus boycott, he asked mom to come work with him,” said Howard, 59, a TV news anchor in Jackson, Miss. “She was working at the time for a local radio station. She had a business degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA. She was a great organizer. She got things done. Of course, this was the boycott that changed the world.”

Maude Ballou later helped Dr. King establish his office at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Mrs. Ballou moved with King to Atlanta, living with the King family for several months, ensuring a smooth transition before King had time to hire a new secretary.

As King’s secretary, Ballou handled his schedule, wrote letters on his behalf, and received correspondence from King and other civil rights leaders.

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“Maude Ballou communicated with all the great leaders of the day,” said Palomino. “Rosa Parks, Adam Clayton Powell, Ralph Abernethy, Wyatt Tee Walker, you name it. She worked closely with Dr. King in all of his writing and editing.”

“These are treasures from my mom’s years at the beginning of the civil rights movement,” said Howard. “My mother has finally decided that, after half a century safeguarding this material, and Dr. King’s legacy, she wants to share these items with the public. It’s time for them to be appreciated by others as much as we’ve appreciated them.”

Heritage Auctions will be donating a portion of its proceeds from the auction of The Ballou Papers to Alabama State University.