Kirk Kremer Collection Sold At Auction

. June 1, 2008

The auction featured important Kremer family heirlooms, including a 1779 land indenture signed by Sarah Mickley, who has a close connection to United States history. During the Revolutionary War, when British troops overtook Philadelphia in 1777, Philadelphia’s Executive Council immediately ordered that eleven bells – the Liberty Bell (then called the State House Bell) along with the bells of Christ Church and Saint Peter’s Church – be removed and hidden so the British couldn’t melt them down and make then into cannons.

According to an article titled “The Liberty Bell Episode” written by Minnie F. Mickley and published in the 1893 American Monthly Magazine, the Mickley family (which married into the Kremer family) played a direct role in the saving of the Liberty Bell. Immediately upon the British invasion, the Liberty Bell was secretly loaded onto a wagon disguised as a Continental Army baggage train; the impression was then given that the wagon had been lost in the Delaware River. In reality, the Liberty Bell was being transported to safety: according to some
historians, it first went to Lancaster and then to York, Pennsylvania.

However, a problem arose along the way. A diary entry written by the Bishop of the Moravian Church of Bethlehem on September 23, 1777, stated that “The wagon with the Liberty Bell broke down here, so it had to be unloaded.” That wagon to which the Bishop referred as well as the horses that drew it were the property of John Jacob Mickley, a private in Captain Benjamin Weiser’s Northampton County Militia in 1776. Mickley was put in charge of this leg of the Liberty Bell’s transport and drove the wagon. Along with him was his eleven-year-old son, also named John Jacob, who occasionally was permitted to drive the horses. The Sarah Mickley who signed the indenture was the elder John Jacob’s daughter. It wasn’t surprising that with this rich history behind it, the indenture sold for $190 which, according to ephemera expert Jonathan Sheard of the Ephemera Society of America and owner
of Sylvan Manuscripts (www.sylvan-manuscripts.co.uk/), is approximately triple the value for a document of its type that is missing its wax seals, has some water damage and a cut edge.

Of particular numismatic interest was a rare 1854 Indian Princess $3 gold coin, minted in Philadelphia and rated at EF-40 (extremely fine) – this was the shortest-lived gold coin denomination in United Stated history with one of the lowest mintages, and is considered to be among today’s most highly sought after coins. Designed by James B. Longacre with the unique image of Lady Liberty wearing an Indian-style feathered headdress on the obverse and a wreath of corn, wheat, cotton and tobacco (the country’s primary 19th-century crops) on the reverse, the coin was authorized by the Mint Act of February 21, 1853. The odd denomination was the United States government’s way of encouraging the public to purchase sheets of 100 three-cent stamps after lowering the cost of mailing a letter from five cents to three cents. The coin was a failure in its day, however: the public found it relatively useless and many saved the unique piece rather than spending it. Although over half a million $3 gold coins were minted between 1854 and 1889, only 138,618 were minted in their first year of issue. Heavy absentee bidding on this first-year issue piece quickly drove the 1854 coin to its final selling price of $750.

Second highest in the coin collection was a 1911 Indian Head $2.50 gold piece also rated at EF-40, which brought $350 from an out-of-state bidder. Likewise, a 1904-S Morgan silver dollar rated out at EF-40 drew pre-auction interest from over a dozen bidders, but rapid floor bidding closed the piece out at $175.

Civil War collectors were in their glory with a selection of five authentic rifles to bid on. A Spencer .52 caliber carbine in fair condition with a barrel length of 22 inches and walnut stock was the source of heavy competition and finally sold to a floor bidder for $1,600. In its day, this gun gave Union soldiers a strong advantage, as it could fire up to seven shots in thirty seconds. Close behind in the bidding was a Model 1863 Springfield Armory Muzzleloader Rifle; Springfields were the foremost rifles used by infantry soldiers in the Civil War. The gun was in fair condition, had a 40-inch barrel and original leather strap, and bidding soared rapidly to $1,400. Sharps rifles were a cavalry mainstay for both Union and Confederate troops, and as such, a C. Sharps patented 1852 rifle manufactured by the R.S. Lawrence Company with a 21-7/8-inch barrel and repaired stock entered the live bidding audience with ten absentee bids but quickly brought additional floor bidding to the tune of $1,000.

Other Civil War collectibles included a framed Daguerreotype of a soldier playing the fife, which realized $85. A Confederate States of America pay stub dated 1864 in the amount of $90 topped out at $45, when an authentic Civil War McClellan horse saddle in the original black color saw rapid-fire bidding to a final price of $400. An 1862 book titled Infantry Tactics, Volume 3, written by United States Army Brigadier General Silas Casey and signed by a Company K soldier of the 26th Regiment was a great deal at $80. A pair of Civil War officer’s horse spurs, one of which had a replacement part of an 1860 Indian Head cent, sold to a floor bidder for $110. After a low opening bid of $25, a First Virginia Civil War hand-stitched battle flag saw brisk bidding that flew to $165.

There were plenty of non-Civil War items that interested bidders as well. A circa 1875 working Waltham Broadway Model 57 key-wind pocket watch with coin silver case, braided two-tone horsehair chain and hand-carved bone fob garnered $130 from a floor bidder after much pre-auction bidding. Some of the more unusual pieces of the day were petrified wood rounds which Kremer had salvaged from a Barnegat, New Jersey, storefront; the rounds each weighed between 15 and 20 pounds, showed fantastic color arrays, and realized between $45 and $90 each.

A collection of eight antique glass eye cups in a variety of colors including rose-tinged milk glass, cobalt blue, Vaseline, and ruby sent many paddles into the air, finally finishing at $55. Medicine bottles were well represented, and one rare Chews Laxative Bitters amber glass bottle from Barnegat, New Jersey, skyrocketed to $180 among several determined bidders. A Masonic Knights Templar sword, circa 1890’s, with a beautifully engraved blade including the owner’s name rose to $145.

As an avid Civil War collector, re-enactor with the 1st Virginia Cavalry, and overall preservationist, Kremer had expressed to his wife, Martha, his desire for his collections to be sold to those who would appreciate their historical values. It certainly appeared that his wishes were fulfilled.

Future auctions by Legacies Old and New will include the liquidation of an antique shop in June, and a multi-estate July auction featuring coins, signed decoys, Victorian beaded bags, and more. For further information, visit their Web site at www.LegaciesOldAndNew.com

Category: Auction News

Comments are closed.