(DECATUR, Ala.) – An authentic Civil War cannon, fired by Union troops at the Battle of Gettysburg, dated 1855 and complete with documented provenance, sold for $86,250 at an on-site sale of the contents of the Dancy-Polk House Inn, held Oct. 12 in Decatur. The Dancy-Polk House Inn, constructed in 1829, is one of only four buildings in Decatur to survive the Civil War.
No fewer than 500 lots came up for bid at the historic residence, under a huge tent with comfortable seating. The auction was co-held by Stevens Auction Company, based in Aberdeen, Miss., with help from Empire Auction Gallery of Athens, Ala. From 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Civil War items were sold alongside antiques from the Dancy Polk-House Inn, as well as other items.
“It was a perfect day for an auction, with sunny skies and just a slight breeze blowing,” said Dwight Stevens of Stevens Auction Company. “It was also one of the largest crowds for an outside event we’ve had in three years or more. Close to 700 people attended the sale in person, while phone and absentee bidding were both heavy.” It was a country sale – no Internet bidding.
The cannon, purchased by a bidder from Georgia, was from the private collection of an avid Civil War collector. It was expected to be the top lot of the day, and it easily claimed that honor. The cannon, a 3.67-caliber weapon and one of three six-pounder models utilized by the Union Army at Gettysburg in 1863, was last fired in 1947. It is truly a piece of American history.
Other Civil War items included a Confederate drum, also from the Battle of Gettysburg ($9,200), an Alabama double-banded rifle signed Dixon and Nelson dated 1864 and fired by Confederate soldiers ($13,800), a pair of Confederate Dog River swords ($8,625, $8,395), a wood canteen with “P. Schneider C&C 5th Reg.” on one side and “Lookout Mt., TN Nov. 25th, 1893 “ on the other ($5,175) and a leather belt with Confederate buckle stamped “C.S.” ($4,600).
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 15 percent buyer’s premium.
The runner-up for top lot of the sale was a spectacular Empire banquet table, 14 feet long and five feet wide, made circa 1890 and signed R. J. Horner, the renowned 19th century furniture maker ($19,550). The table had acanthus carved claw feet with six skirted leaves. Also, a set of twelve mahogany Chippendale chairs (one arm, eleven sides, all circa 1910), went for $7,590.
A pair of eye-grabbing lots both topped the $10,000 mark. The first was an elegant 1935 Chrysler Airstream four-door sedan, all original. The car with a new set of tires and new 12-volt electrical system, was last painted 25 years ago and featured turn signals. It sped off for $16,675. Also, a circa 1930s mahogany Steinway piano with stool, in excellent condition, rose to $10,350.
A pair of beds with completely different back stories crossed the block. A monumental rococo mahogany rosewood half tester plantation bed from around 1850, 104 inches tall and in great condition, breezed to $12,650; while an ornately decorated antique iron bed made circa 1900 that once belonged to Madame Cate, proprietor of a brothel in Decatur, garnered $1,725.
A five-piece rosewood rococo laminated parlor suite by J. & J.W. Meeks in the Stanton Hall pattern, with blue upholstery and made circa 1855, topped out at $18,400; and a rosewood pierce-carved oval center table, also made by Meeks in the Stanton Hall pattern, rose to $10,350. Also, a period rosewood rococo half commode with A. Roux label (circa 1855) fetched $1,610.
Two grand and lovely breakfronts wowed the crowd. One was a flame mahogany Empire Gothic breakfront with four wine drawers, made circa 1840 and standing 9 feet 1 inch tall by 68 inches wide ($4,255). The other was a period Empire breakfront with original crest and rippled molding, also crafted around 1840 and standing 8 feet 6 inches tall by 61 inches wide ($3,680).
A rosewood rococo laminated sofa, pictured on page 116 of the Dubrow Book of 19th Century Furniture and similar to an example in the Arnot Art Museum (circa 1855) went to a determined bidder for $4,830; and an oversize two-drawer period Empire mint julep cabinet with black and gold marble, made circa 1840, 37 ½ inches tall by 44 inches wide, coasted to $3,335.
Dwight Stevens was astounded when a pine primitive cobbler’s bench, pegged together circa 1880 and on the large side, hammered for $3,680 (“I figured it would bring $500 or so, but two bidders got into a war and that was that”). Also, an equally intriguing double mammie’s bench from around 1840, quite rare, with original stenciling, sold for a more predictable $1,610.
An enormous, heavily carved walnut Victorian hall tree with mirror, with white marble top and caved deer head at the peak, made circa 1860 by Mitchell & Rammelsberg and with the original finish, hit $17,250. Also, a massive pair of rosewood Victorian gold gilt parlor mirrors from around 1860, each one measuring 9 feet tall by 47 inches wide, hammered for $3,680 each.
Decorative accessories featured an antique French bronze and marble clock with large bronze cup on top, circa 1880 ($7,475); a three-piece Sevres porcelain and bronze clock set, circa 1880 ($2,990); a pair of circa 1880 Old Paris vases, dark blue with roses and with heavy gold decoration ($1,840); and a pair of pink circa 1880 Old Paris vases with parin figures ($1,265).
Stevens Auction Company’s next big auction will be held on Saturday, Nov. 23rd, at 10 a.m. (CST), in the firm’s gallery located at 609 North Meridian Street in Aberdeen, Miss. Featured will be the living estate of Dr. Ray Gregory, a recently retired physician and lifetime collector of Victorian and Empire furniture, cut glass, artwork, rugs, lamps and collectibles.
Then, sometime in January (date and times to be determined), Stevens Auction Company will sell the lifetime collections of a lady out of Missouri, also in the Aberdeen gallery. The 65-year accumulation will include early Chinese Rose Medallion, Sevres pieces, Moser art glass, Old English Staffordshire and more. Watch the website as 2014 nears: www.stevensauction.com.
Stevens Auction Company is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign a single item, an estate or a collection, you may call them directly, at (662) 369-2200; or, you can e-mail them at email@example.com. To learn more about Stevens Auction Company and the upcoming Nov. 23 and January auctions, log on to www.stevensauction.com.
P. O. Box 58
609 North Meridian Street
About Stevens Auction Company
Stevens Auction Company is a full-service auction firm specializing in antiques and collectibles. The firm conducts estate liquidations and multi-estate auctions, both on-site and at their spacious gallery facility in Aberdeen, Miss.