Auctionville

The latest and greatest, the scoop and the skinny, the most wanted and not so much
  • The Artist of Many Things

    Many times, when we sell an estate, we know so little about our sellers. I like to think our bidders want to know more about the person behind the items we are selling. My years in this industry have taught me that everyone has a story. This month, we would like to tell you the story about David Scutt of Hendersonville, Tennessee.

     

    David was an artist of many things. He was a painter, rifle maker, master engraver and a musician. For me, I was awestruck at his keen eye for engraving barrels of rifles, shotguns and hand-guns in addition to the gentle nature of his paintings.

     

    David was born in Bloomington, Indiana and life brought him to Tennessee. He and his wife, Polly, had been happily married for 59 years. On their 25th wedding anniversary, in a Facebook post, David describes the moment he saw Polly. “I first caught a glimpse of this girl on a stairs at old East High School, and I was thunderstruck. I had spent most of my Junior year at East High School hidden away in a closet room, drawing animals and such for the old Nashville City School system, for publication of children’s work books. So seeing this girl for the first time was a complete shock. Matter of fact, 59 years later, still thunderstruck.”

     

    In 1993, shortly after his early retirement from the U.S. Postal Service in the Marketing Division, David started painting; however never intended to make his art public. In an early artist’s statement, David describes his interest in Italian artists, particularly Piero della Francesca and Sandro Botticelli. He talks about being fascinated by the subtleties and nuance of emotions and gestures as people interact with each other and with art.

     

    The only thing I have really understood is the obsession. And with much luck, having a spouse that keeps things in true perspective”.

     

    One of the art pieces in our auction is a gorgeous nude. David talked about working on this painting in the doorway of their garage, open to the street. He said people would stop in the street to make note of his progress. His influencers for this painting came from the artists Amedeo Modigliani and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. 

     

    In addition to his paintings, David built beautiful American long rifles, usually in the Federal Period, using curly maple stock. Each piece is custom engraved with precious metal inlays by hammer and chisel. These are probably the stars of the auction! They are a must see. He also made axes and tomahawks. As well, he collected and engraved various other firearms and we are featuring over 70 of them in this auction, several with his custom engravings.

     

    His one-of-a-kind hand engraved designs include stags, dragons, gargoyles and Viking ships. He sometimes referred to this as his “Steel canvas art…Art for a very small audience”. He studied this technique under Master Engravers Lynton McKenzie and Ray Veramontez.

     

    David also had a love of antique clocks, and we are selling over twenty clocks from his private collection. Some clocks include an Army Message Center Clock, Seth Thomas shelf clocks, a Silas Hoadley “Upside Down” clock, and a New Haven clock formerly of the original Gerst Brewing Company.

    One last note of interest from items in this auction is a large Ben Nance handmade postage stamp shadow box art piece that used to hang, along with others he created, in the old Post Office Downtown. The Post Office is now the Frist Center. There is a fascinating story behind this piece of art and I think you’ll understand the kind of man David was when you read the story about how he rescued several of these pieces from being destroyed. David was a good man. You can read the story under the “detail” tab on the auction item #264. It’s a good read.

     

    We are pleased to share this collection with you. Own your own unique piece of art from this Artist of Many Things.

     


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  • This Month’s “Estate” Auction

    We know our bidders like to know where our auction items come from. Is it really an Estate? We don’t overuse the word “Estate” because we know not every situation is a true “Estate” sale/auction. In today’s market, that word is overused. A moving sale should be called a moving sale and a downsizing sale should be called a downsizing sale. I believe that’s what sets Auctioneers apart from the rest. We are licensed and trained professionals and we are regulated by the Department of Commerce and Insurance. If we do something wrong, the public is protected and has recourse. We try to stay true to what we’re selling and we call it what it is. Only when it’s what we consider to be true “Estate” do we call it that. 

     

    This month, we are selling several partial true “Estates” from the Middle Tennessee area. We thought you might want to know a little more about these families.

     

    Our Dickson Estate includes items from Frank and Florence Wood. They literally gathered and collected items along their travels from the back roads of Kentucky to southern Indiana. “If my Father saw a house he thought might be interesting, he would just go up to the door and ask if they had anything old they wanted to sell”, states their daughter Evelyn Jennings. “Mom and I sat in the car and tried to look innocent till they gave us the okay to come in”.

    Evelyn said her Father drove an Oldsmobile Delta 88 that had huge fins and plenty of room on top of the car in the car top carrier. She remembers the Hoosier Cabinet and RJ Horner Hallway Bench we are selling in the auction and other pieces of furniture that he strapped on to that carrier. For 60 years, she said her parents searched attics, basements and auctions. It was more about the hunt sometimes, than it was about the pieces they acquired.  They amassed quite a collection and were known for that. As a matter of fact, the Ansonia clock we are selling in the auction was stolen twice from their Real Estate office and recovered each time at the police station.

     

    Another seller’s Father, Marvin Leeds, had a dream of a career in songwriting. When he turned 18, he joined the US Army seeking adventure. When he was 20 he was wounded in action and after recovering from Walter Reed Hospital, life steered him in another direction.

    He loved history, art and guiding young minds, which led him to teaching. He also studied and collected antique art glass, folk art and artifacts related to WWI and WWII. We are selling a WWII German Hat from his collection along with a period Top Hat. The cast iron toy banks and the “Pore Lil Mose” Black Americana prints are also from his collection. His daughter Erica says she remembers how diverse his collections were, and is happy to share a few of these items with our bidders.

     

    Nancy Teasley Rickey owned the Pen & Paper, Inc. store in Green Hills for over a decade. Prior to that, she was a stockbroker with Hillard Lyons. Her daughter, Sarah told us her Mother had always wanted to own her own business and sell nice things. Thus, she opened the Pen & Paper store selling fine writing instruments like the Pelikan and Montblac among other items we are selling in the auction.

    Now you know a little bit more about the story behind this month’s “Estate” auction.


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  • The Story Behind The Stuff

    As an Auctioneer, one of the questions I am asked when I present a new auction is  “Who were the sellers and why are they selling?” So, from time to time, I ask my sellers if we can share their story because I think it matters. In this month’s auction, we are selling a nice collection of items from across the globe. My seller’s journey took them to several continents, mostly off the beaten path. Here is a snippet of their amazing journey.

    Meet Dr. and Mrs. Plummer and their children Carrie and Ian. Mike Plummer is a retired Vanderbilt Professor of Mathematics and Sara is retired from the Nursing field having served in the Military and the private sector. They were both born in Ohio; Mike in a manufacturing town and Sara in a farming town.  Subsequently, each landed in New Haven, Connecticut around the same time where Mike had accepted a post-doctoral position at Yale. They met and married, then moved to New York.

     

    The late 60’s in New York was quite a creative time and place; after all, it was the 60’s. Mike was teaching at City College and Sara was teaching Nursing in the city hospital system. Much of their off time was spent visiting the art galleries and attending exhibitions in Greenwich Village. They began to acquire some of their art pieces; in particular two Brutalist Art Sculptures we are offering in the auction as well as the John Langford Acrylic on canvas and Rya rugs.

     

    In the early 70’s they moved to Nashville so Mike could begin his career at Vanderbilt University. Sara worked as a nurse at Vanderbilt Hospital. Dr. and Mrs. Plummer began their academic travel through the IREX fellowship program, which is a global and development organization. One of their first assignments was to Budapest, Hungary, which was during the old communist days.

     

    At that time, their children were 15 months and 5 years old. Sara said food was scarce and since there was no refrigeration food would spoil quickly, so she had to shop for food everyday. They ate whatever was available, usually salami and bread. On their first visit, they were only allowed the leave the country twice.  Sara said, “It was certainly a unique experience to live between the East and the West behind the Iron Curtain.”

     

    It was in Hungary they acquired some of the religious Icons, textiles and porcelain you’ll see in the auction. Some were acquired at local shops while other pieces were acquired privately.

    As mentioned, their travels were driven by Mike’s work as a Professor of Math. They spent a year in Bonn, West Germany working at an Institute, and took advantage of living abroad by traveling to several different countries. On one assignment to Germany, they actually shipped a camper van to Germany so they could travel the continent.

    In their travels, some of the countries they visited include East and West Germany, Poland, Romania, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and The Netherlands acquiring artwork, textiles and collectibles along the way.

    After Europe, Dr. Plummer was presented with an opportunity to go to New Zealand as a guest professor through an acquaintance he had met in Scotland. This fellow colleague had completely immersed himself into the local culture. “Tourism was scarce at the time”, Mike stated, “We had the unique opportunity to experience New Zealand from a local point of view”.  This is where the Plummer’s interest in Aboriginal Art and Maori Art began.


    They visited Australia and New Zealand many times. They acquired most of the wood vessels along the Western coastline; several of which are being offered in our auction. We are also selling a Didgeridoo gifted to them thought to be made in 1943.  Other areas they visited included Perth, Darwin, and the Melville and Bathurst Islands, home of the indigenous group known as the Tiwi people. After spending some time back in the States, they were off to Africa. 


    Their first trip to Africa was spent mainly in South Africa, where they visited Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. It was here their interest in African art began. The tribal dancing mask in the auction was purchased in Cape Town. The green tribal beaded choker in the auction was purchased in Durban. Ms. Plummer told me in Durban she was witness to an actual “Witchdoctor” but was afraid to take any pictures. She and Mike also found the colorful baskets made from telephone wire here, also offered in the auction.


    Dr. Plummer was invited back to Africa a second time on behalf of the United Nations. The kids were older now, but still in tow. He taught at in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. At the time, Zimbabwe was in between revolutions, and not a very friendly place to live. They also had a hard time with the local wildlife. Monkeys were a constant problem getting indoors wreaking havoc and the Rhinos outside were particularly unpredictable and dangerous. However, Zimbabwe was also where Dr. Plummer’s favorite piece was purchased – a Verdite Shona 2-faced hand carving.


    After once again spending some time back in the States, they decided to travel back to Africa, this time to Namibia where The Tropic of Capricorn passes through. Dr. Plummer described this area as, “Where the sand dunes constantly shifted and roads were not paved”. By now it was just the two of them. The kids were grown and on their own.  They visited the town of Swakopmund in Namibia and saw a woman sitting on a little stool weaving a textile. Sara said she bartered with the woman and they came to an agreement. She came back later to pick it up once the woman had finished weaving the piece. Well, it’s been hanging in their home until now. You can find it in the auction as lot #622.

     

    So, now you know a little bit more about the story behind the stuff. While there are more stories to tell than I can write in this blog post, I’ll leave that to the Plummer family. Please visit the auction on our website at BaldiniAuction.com to bid on some items in this collection.

    Vizlat! Auf Wiedersehen! Au Revoir! Ciao!


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  • What’s in a Name?

    What’s in a name?

    I don’t really get star-struck as I have sold many items for very prominent people in my career. However, when my phone rang on Wednesday afternoon, and I saw the name…John Baeder, I must admit, I was a little star-struck. Let me explain.


    You see, as a very young auctioneer in the early 90’s, I was asked by a friend (thank you Diane) to be the guest auctioneer for an event benefiting the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC). It was called Star Doodles. I had no idea what a huge event this was. I had been to TPAC to see performances, but I had no idea the auction was going to be held onstage in Jackson Hall.

    At the time, I felt like that was the event of the season…at least for me it was. Attendees included many notable and prominent Nashvillians, artists, celebrities and music industry people. As the auctioneer, I sold “Doodles” famous people had created – sketches and small pieces of artwork. Sometimes it was simply song lyrics (like Peter Frampton) who had written lyrics along the edge of a large pottery serving charger, and sometimes it was a celebrity’s attempt at creating a small piece of art. Some of those people included Tony Bennett, Joe O’Donnell, Brenda Lee, Red Skelton, Steve Wariner and of course, JOHN BAEDER. I live-auctioned these items to attendees and everyone had so much fun! I was the auctioneer for this event until it was no longer; it had a great run of about 10 years.


    I met John Baeder at one of the Preview Parties for this event. I also sold a “Doodle” or two over the years he had donated for the event. Of course, once you see John Baeder’s art, you’ll remember his unique style from that day forward. In my 25+ years in the auction industry, I have never had the opportunity to sell another one of his pieces…until now. AND, it’s an original watercolor of the very iconic Brown’s Diner. Now, if you’re a native Nashvillian, you’ve been to Brown’s diner and you get it. It’s iconic in every sense of the word. If you’ve only heard rumors, just go. Then you’ll get it.


    Back to my phone call… I knew Christie’s in New York had just sold one his pieces this past July, and I’m sure he was wondering how my company earned the privilege of attaining a piece of his artwork. I explained to him I had been hired by a Nashville Estate to sell this piece. I told John the widow of the estate was moving to California and said her husband would have wanted this particular piece be sold in Nashville. So, John shared with me how the Brown’s Diner piece was born.


    He created the Brown’s Diner watercolor for Cumberland Gallery in 2004. It was to be included in an 
    exhibit featuring only Nashville inspired images. Referring to Brown’s Diner, Baeder said, “Although an iconic Nashville landmark, it has no ‘curb appeal’, nor an interesting diner per se. No one can tell it was once two interurban trolley cars that ended the line at Hillsboro and Blair.”

    He went on to say the image is from early June,1980 when he was first visiting Nashville. At the time, he didn’t know he was going to move here. Referring the the front façade of Brown’s Diner, Baeder said, “Trees and beer signs were still prevalent, thus making for a composition. The parked cars assisted greatly, today an impossibility.”


    It doesn’t matter if you’re a native of Nashville, or you’re a recent transplant, we have all witnessed the boom Nashville is experiencing. It’s hard sometimes, to let go of some great landmarks that are no longer visible. John Baeder probably said it best.

     

    “My quest has always been preservation, therefore the decision for such an important Nashville image. A simple diner, transformed into an institution, mostly due to the multitude of musicians that have frequented its glory, further making ‘Music City’ history”. 

     

    So what’s in a name? In this case, everything. John Baeder and Brown’s Diner go together like hamburgers and french fries.

     

    Photo Credit: Jim McGuire


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  • Serendipity

    Serendipity

    …The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

    In 1994, when I was a young apprentice auctioneer, I was given the opportunity to work the Iconic Conway Twitty The Legend auction held in Hendersonville, Tennessee. I was only there because I was apprenticing with the Auctioneer hired to call the bids for the auction. He knew it would be an eye-opening experience, and asked me if I would like to work the auction in the office area, helping the staff. I knew it was going to be a pretty big deal, and of course I said, “Of course.”

     

    If you had told me that 24 years later I’d be selling some of those items a second time around, I probably would have raised an eyebrow and tilted my head to the side. You know the pose, as if to say “Yeah, right.” You know how they say that everything comes around full circle?  Well, in the auction world, it has for me.

     

    I remember the auction well. It was my first high-profile auction, and I couldn’t believe the sheer number of people in attendance. It was a well choreographed event, and it seemed as though there were no details left unattended. The men working the ground, otherwise known as groundsmen, were dressed in tuxedos and white gloves. The auction took place under a huge white tent and every seat was taken. When you looked at the license plates in the parking lot, it seemed as though every tag was from out of state. And the media – well they were all there in full force. I was so impressed, and I knew it would probably be quite some time before I worked another auction like that one.

     

    Fast forward 24 years. I received a call from a woman who told me she was looking for an auctioneer to sell her important collection of music memorabilia. She said she lived in South Carolina, but felt is was important to sell her collection in Nashville. I asked what kind of collection she had and she said, “Well, I attended the Conway Twitty Estate auction in 1994 and purchased several items. I’m older and my health concerns me. I’d really like to see these items sell to someone who would enjoy them as much as I have all these years.” She told me she had been doing some research online and just happened to come across my website and thought she would give me a call. Did you just raise both eyebrows? I did too. Isn’t this a strange coincidence?  I choose to use the word serendipitous.

    This person had never met me, much less know anything about me. She certainly didn’t know I had worked that very memorable auction in 1994. Somehow, though, she just happened to find me! The more she told me, I was quite sure our paths had crossed at the auction. Every time she bought something the auctioneer would say, “Sold to the lady with the spotted dog.” You see, she and her husband brought their Dalmatian, Dotty, to the auction. They would occasionally take a stroll with their Dotty around the auction area.

     

    Some of the items purchased at that auction which are selling in the current online auction include Conway Twitty’s 1934 Martin 0-17 six-string guitar, an oil painting of the musical manuscript “Hello Darlin” signed by William Moyer, who gave it to Conway Twitty as a Birthday gift, along with a number of other music memorabilia items and stage clothes.

     

    Each auction item includes the original C.O.A. along with a description of the item and purchase date, and is signed by Hugh Carden and Don Garis, Co-Executors of the estate. Each C.O.A. is also signed by Conway’s wife, Dee Henry Jenkins. Copies of the receipt for each of these items are also included.

     

    All items will be sold to the highest bidder, regardless of price, so make plans to view this catalog at BaldiniAuction.com. Second chances to bid on these kinds of collector’s items don’t happen often! If you were or are a Conway Twitty fan, don’t miss this opportunity to bid.


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  • One Thing Leads To Another Then An Auction Is Born

    Whether it’s a fine art collection, an estate, a fine glassware collection, civil war memorabilia, model trains or even poker carousels (next month’s auction), the stories behind the stuff are as good as the stuff! While my sellers know I can’t always communicate the passion they had collecting, or how much they enjoyed the hunt, or even the sentiment attached when we sell an estate, my hope is to give them a platform worthy of selling their things.

     

    When I meet with a client in their home to look at items or a collection they are considering for auction, I am always amazed that after 25 years in this industry, I still see something different in every home. Most often, the conversation starts out a little guarded. I think people want to know that what they’re selling matters to someone else.

     

    This month’s auction features items from a local collector who has been dabbling in this since he was young, He grew up around an entire family of collectors. It’s just second nature to him. He collects Tennessee pieces, early artwork and unique odds and ends. He wasn’t really thinking of selling anything until he decided to update the paint on the interior of his home.

    Of course, he had to take down all of his hanging artwork from the walls, so he decided it was time to re-work his current artwork collection and make room for some of his newer acquisitions. Then, as he was moving furniture around so the painters could paint, he also decided it was time to introduce some of his new antique furniture purchases and sell some other pieces. A current client (always the best referral source) suggested he call me, so I was lucky enough to get the call.

     

    We were thrilled to visit with him and his dog Brody at his very historic home. We absolutely marveled at all of the interesting items in his home and I kept thinking to myself “I love my job” because I get to peek behind the curtain. We walked around and he graciously showed us the items in his home collection he was particularly proud of, then showed us the items he wanted to sell. Viola, our next auction was born.

     

    So, this month’s auction includes items from this collector as well as other consignors. We are selling nice early framed artwork, antique furniture including Empire, Victorian and Lillian Russell, crocks, copper and metal pieces, a tilt-top table and even some nice porcelain. We also have a Man Ray Mirror and from another seller we are selling a 2014 Massimo 600 Utility Vehicle!

     

    We’re excited about this online auction and we hope you can join us! Public inspection is on Tuesday, May 15th from 10 to 3 and the auction will close on Wednesday, May 16th starting at 2pm.


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  • A Day in the Life; You Just Never Know What You’ll Find

    As an auctioneer, you never know who’s going to call with something to sell. Sometimes, your network can be your best source of referrals. The phone may ring one day and before you know it, you’re in a small town with a town full of stuff.

     

    That’s kind of what happened with this auction. Although the phone didn’t ring, I simply got a text message from a colleague who said “I have an antique auction if you’re interested”. Those who know me, know I LOVE good stuff! For most auctioneers, it’s challenging to conduct an auction of only personal property that includes just glassware. That’s why I have a warehouse.

    For me, it’s just as exciting to fill up my warehouse with different inventories each auction. I find I can help more people who may only have a few things to sell. I can consolidate sellers and compliment one inventory with another. This month, I have a lifetime collection of glassware and artwork from Arthur Timpani of Los Osos, California. I am selling the remaining inventory for his heirs.

     

    Let me tell you a little about Arthur Timpani. He was a Navy Veteran of World War II. After the war, he went to college in Chicago and lived in the Chicago area until the late 50’s when he landed a job at NBC Television in Burbank, California. As a business manager for the station, he actually wrote paychecks to many celebrities including John Wayne. He even had the opportunity to meet Walt Disney. When he retired, he moved to Los Osos, which is on the coast in central California. He volunteered in the local museum and over the years amassed quite a collection of fine glassware and artwork.

     

    He passed away in 2009 and his heirs traveled to California, packed up everything and moved it back home with them, which happens to be a small town in Sumner County here in Middle Tennessee with a population of 288, according to a 2010 census. Finally, in 2018, I got the call/via text message!

     

    Alli (my apprentice auctioneer) and I took off heading north for a beautiful drive to Bethpage, Tennessee, which is an unincorporated community in Sumner County. When we turned off of the main highway, we headed down the road passing old farmhouses with big dogs laying in the yards and creeks flowing gently in the back. Then, we came to the little red church that was built in 1945.

    We both got out of the car not quite knowing what to expect. We were greeted in the front by one of the heirs who opened the doors to the church and seemed to watch our faces. Well, I think we both thought, “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen this much glassware in one place, much less in a church”. All of these thousands of items were neatly displayed in this quaint little church with beautifully framed artwork displayed on pews and glassware categorized and displayed on shelving they had set up everywhere. They had sold things over the past several years, holding weekend estate sales there, but they had so much, they said it felt like they had not made a dent.

     

    I think it goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway, we were both thrilled and terrified all at the same time. Alli and I appreciate the “stuff”; but how much was too much? We decided to take most everything because for the most part it was all good. And after all, as auctioneers, we try to solve problems for people but we all have to make money in the process. A very wise mentor once told me “If I can’t leave you any better than I found you, thenI’m not doing a good job“.

     

    I hope you will be as thrilled as I am with this important collection of glassware and artwork. The prep work for this auction has been challenging, but I think you’ll find there are things in this auction that you won’t find at your local yard sale.

     

    This auction is open now and will close on April 11th, 2018.


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  • Paul Harmon: The Story So Far

    By Joshua Daniel Fisher

     

     

     

    A couple weeks ago, I sat down with Paul Harmon in his home studio in Brentwood, Tennessee. The room was well lit with rows of windows and vaulted ceilings. Canvases stacked four or five deep against the walls. We took our seats on two overstuffed sofas in front of a large brick fireplace, facing each other over a tidy coffee table.

     

     

    You’ve been a prolific artist your entire life, and looking around this room, it’s apparent that you have not eased up at all. What drove you to be an artist in the first place, and what drives you to continue to create new pieces?

    (more…)


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  • In All My Years…

    Those who know me have heard me say time and time again, “It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been an auctioMarietta, Georgianeer, it seems I always have the opportunity to sell something I’ve never sold before. I love my job!”

     

    I am preparing for a live auction event scheduled for October 13, 2016, and I can truly say, this time,

     

    “I can’t imagine that I would ever have the opportunity to sell something as historic as an 1861, six-pounder Tredegar cannon, which is the only bronze Confederate North Carolina surcharged cannon in private hands.”

     

    Also, it has been confirmed in an email from Val Forgett, III dated August 29, 2016; this cannon did appear in the epic movie Gods & Generals. There is a lot of interesting information about the cannon and we have included it on our website. Please take a few minutes to read the history associated with this cannon.

     

    William Leigh

    I was in Marietta, Georgia in August at the Southeastern Civil War Show to promote this auction and garner some interest. I must say, between the vendors at the show and the attendees, I don’t believe I’ve ever met such a nice group of people dedicated to preserving the history of the Civil War. People were there from as far away as Maryland and Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina. Among some of the people I met, I’d like to tell you about two people in particular, Raymond and Corrine Smutko.

     

    While I was taking a break from my booth, passing out literature to the vendors about this upcoming auction, I was drawn to one of the vendors who was wearing a Tredegar Foundry t-shirt. You see, the cannon we’re selling in the auction is from the Tredegar Foundry, so naturally I was drawn to his display. While I was telling him about the auction, I heard someone say, “You’re talking to the wrong guy”. I continued to tell the vendor about the auction and I heard someone say again, “You’re talking to the wrong guy”. I turned around and introduced myself to the woman, who was, by this time pointing to her husband. They introduced themselves as Ray and Corrine Smutko, friends of the late Val Forgett, Jr., who purchased this cannon in 1980 at the Spaulding family auction in Cooperstown, New York.

     

    Ray Smutko

    Ray said, “ Val and I were best friends and I remember that cannon you’re selling being on Val’s property. My kids used to play on that cannon.” I know…what are the chances? After I picked up my jaw from my chest, I quickly asked if they could spend a few minutes with me in my booth for a conversation. I’m sure they were just as surprised to see a picture of that cannon as I was surprised to meet someone who had actually known about, and was a part of this cannon’s unique history.

     

    Ray told me some wildly entertaining stories about he and Val. You see Val Forgett, Jr. founded the Navy Arms Company, Inc. in 1956 and is internationally recognized as the “Father of the modern replica firearms business”. Ray told me he and Val were both members of the North/South Skirmish Association, which is still active today and promotes the shooting of Civil War firearms and encourages the preservation of Civil War materials.  Whenever there was a skirmish, all of the teams participating were allowed to actually camp on the property. The two families would always pitch a tent and camp together; then with a laugh Ray said, “Until Val’s business started to prosper and Val started camping in his motor-home!”

     

    Ray said he has fond memories of Val and their time together in their younger days. Val’s property was a playground of military equipment and parts as he was always working on a project. Ray said, “Val was also a very generous man, and his success never clouded our friendship”. Their children grew up together and the Smutkos even attended the wedding of his son, Val III.

    Ray Smutko

    In my conversation with the Smutkos, I was trying to find out a little more about Ray, as I could tell he just wanted to talk about Val. Ray’s wife, Corrine, finally cut in and said to me, “You can see Ray in the movie Gods and Generals as an extra,” then continued “As long as you don’t blink”.

     

    It’s funny how you can sometimes just be in the right place at the right time…you know, when the stars and moon align. In all my years in the auction industry, I could not have imagined a more serendipitous moment!


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