(Kingston, Ga.) – For a town so small it doesn’t even have a traffic light, Kingston, Ga., was really jumping on New Year’s Day, thanks to a lively auction held by Ken’s Antiques & Auction. About 300 people (half the town’s population) packed the showroom to bid on more than 650 lots in a wide array of categories. Top lots included 18 historic samplers, a Sevres urn and a Chippendale highboy.

“Not bad for a country junk sale,” remarked Ken McLeod, owner of Ken’s Antiques & Auction, with a chuckle. “Small items and collectibles, especially, did real well. Not so much furniture, but even that brought prices that were within range.” Mr. McLeod said about a dozen phone bidders remained on the lines throughout the day, and many absentee bids were recorded. Some were faxed in.

Internet bidding was handled through LiveAuctioneers.com, but only a little more than 200 of the sale’s lots were even listed on eBay. “It didn’t really matter, because the crowd was so great,” Mr. McLeod said. “I have a loyal customer base that is in the habit of marking their calendars for my sales, especially the better ones like this.” Several area estates were liquidated, and the sale grossed $135,000.

Highlights from the auction follow. Prices quoted do not include a 10% buyer’s premium.
The day’s top lot was a period Chippendale highboy, beautifully crafted sometime between 1790 and 1810 and featuring all original boards and hardware. The 80” tall piece, nicely carved and with ball-and-claw feet, went for $4,000, but did have a downside – it had been refinished. “And that’s too bad,” Mr. McLeod said, “because in its original state, it could have easily made $30,000-$40,000.”

sevres-urn.jpg Just behind the highboy, at $3,750, was a gorgeous Sevres urn, produced around the 1890s by the renowned porcelain factory (founded in Vincennes in 1738 and moved to Sevres in 1756). The hand-painted urn stood 23” tall and was signed on the top cap and base. The courtyard scenes hand-painted onto the piece were representative of the high-quality gilded wares associated with Sevres.

As nice as those two items were, they were not the main reason for the large turnout. Most of the crowd had come to view and bid on the 18 historic samplers that were given much attention in the press leading up to sale day. Most were from a single Boston-area family and were dated 1758-1866. The consignor was an Atlanta area-based antiques dealer who bought 13 of the 18 as a group.

The top selling sampler was one done in 1801 by Sarah Crofs, just 11 years old at the time. It sold for $3,000. All samplers were stitched by young girls of the time, some as young as five. It was common for girls whose parents could afford it to be sent to seminaries, to learn how to sew. They practiced by making samplers — many featuring the alphabet, numbers, poems and folk art depictions.

The oldest sampler, dated 1758, hammered for $1,700 and had writing (poems and sayings of the day, mostly), as well as numbers, letters and flowers. String coming off the sides was used to affix the sampler to its wooden back, a common practice of the time. Also, a simple 12” X 12” sampler with the alphabet and numbers, stitched in 1834 by seven-year-old Eunice McCoombs, fetched $1,100.

A handsome Case knife collection – comprising about 35 pocket knives, plus about 20 other pieces, mostly butcher knives and scissors – crossed the block at $2,600. The collection came out of a country store in Georgia and all the knives were mounted in a glass and wood display case. The group dated to around the mid-1970s. Knives made by Case XX Mfg. Co. are popular with collectors.

One item with an impressive provenance was added literally on sale day: a Val-Kill chest that sold to an enterprising buyer for $500, who promptly posted it on eBay, where it resold for $4,925. Val-Kill is the furniture associated with President Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor. Their idea to start a small factory in upstate New York, not far from Hyde Park in the 1920s, resulted in Val-Kill Industries.

The simple, well-made pieces that came out of the Val-Kill factory were copies of early American furniture, and they are highly sought after today by collectors. The plant thrived from 1926-1935, but eventually succumbed to the Great Depression. The example sold – a pine, 5-drawer, 2-over-3 chest – had a newspaper article taped to the inside from 1936, telling how Mrs. Roosevelt acquired it.

A Victorian two-piece walnut bedroom suite, comprising a marble-top dresser and full-size bed, soared to $2,500. Both pieces were majestic, at 8′ 3” tall. The suite, crafted circa 1890, still had the original finish. Also, a beautiful Victorian Murphy bed, made from quarter sawn oak and looking more like a wardrobe the way it lifted down, hammered for $1,600. It stood 6-1/2 feet tall x 4-1/2 feet wide. Also, a rare, miniature, period Empire child’s or salesman’s sample chest changed hands for $1,500.

About 15 gold coins, all in circulated condition and in denominations of $2-1/2, $5, $10 and $20, went for prices ranging from $275 for a $2-1/2 piece to $850 for a $20 coin. All were dated between 1870 and 1920.

civil-war-daguerreotype1.jpgAlso, two Civil War-era daguerreotypes of brothers from Alabama who fought for the Confederacy, went for $725 the pair. Both tintypes were cased in a hinged, period wood frame.

A Victorian cabinet, possibly attributed to the Herter Brothers but in bad need of a major restoration, changed hands for $1,500. A small cherry corner cupboard, made in the 1850s, went for $1,900. And a real pretty walnut stepback cupboard pie safe standing about 6-1/2 feet tall x 3 feet wide, realized $1,200. The piece had its original tins and surface and boasted nice decorations and patterns.

One of the more interesting lots was a pair of square Victorian wall plates (or platters), each one hand-painted with images: one of President Grover Cleveland’s wife, the other of Lily Langtree, a popular actress of the time. They sold for $600 the pair. Also, a group of around 20 Hummel figurines was sold as single lots, for prices ranging from $75 for smaller pieces to $200-$250 for the larger ones.

All sales are held at Ken’s Antiques & Auction’s climate-controlled showroom, located at 26 West Railroad Street in Kingston, Ga., located between Cartersville and Rome (northwest of Atlanta). The firm is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign an item, estate or collection, you may call them at (770) 364-6281. Or, e-mail them at [email protected]

Ken’s Antiques & Auction conducts many smaller sales throughout the year – typically the first and third weekend of the month — but the next big multi-estate auction will be held Monday, May 26th (Memorial Day). Mr. McLeod is already earmarking select merchandise for that sale. Watch for details on auctionzip.com (enter ID # 1419) as the sale date approaches. Or, call for further details.