Huge auction coming Friday

Published 2:52 pm Wednesday, November 25, 2009

One of the biggest and most significant antique auctions to occur in Suffolk in many years will happen this Friday.

“It’s one of the biggest, that’s for sure, when it comes to personal property,” said Brad Ellsworth, with United Country A.B. Cole & Associates Auction & Realty. The company will auction more than 400 unique antiques, many from the estate of Robert L. Williams, of Woodford.

The auction begins at 3 p.m. Friday at the Suffolk National Guard Armory, 2761 Godwin Blvd. A preview of the items begins at noon. Food and beverages will be available, and seats should be reserved by calling ahead.

The estate was found by head auctioneer Scott Jones, Ellsworth said.

“He has really put together a tremendous auction as far as the quality of merchandise,” Ellsworth said.

One of the most unique items in the auction is a 10-gallon stoneware water cooler hand-signed by John P. Schermerhorn, the maker of the cooler.

“This would have been in a hotel in the Richmond area,” Ellsworth explained. “People would serve water out of it as the guests would check into the hotel.”

Ellsworth said very few hand-signed water coolers remain in the world.

“This is an opportunity to purchase some of the best of Southern history,” Ellsworth said.

Among the rarest items in the auction is a Virginia leather key basket from Powhatan County. Key baskets were carried by slaves on plantations so they always had the keys to buildings they needed to access, Ellsworth said. Many of them were destroyed either during the Civil War or afterward, as a symbol of emancipation. The particular one in the auction dates from the early 1860s, Ellsworth said.

“That’s really a highlighted item,” Ellsworth said.

Several pieces of signed furniture will be included in the auction. One meat cupboard, signed and dated by G.S. West in 1860, still has stains on the wood from the grease and fat that dripped from the wood stored there, Ellsworth said.

Renowned furniture maker Gustav Stickley signed a bookcase and a rocker that will be included in the auction.

In addition, many paintings and painted furniture items are included, such as several pastels by New Jersey native William Henry Chandler.

Hundreds of other items, including desks, tables, grandfather clocks, rugs and quilts will be available in the auction. For more information, call 539-9866.