The latest and greatest, the scoop and the skinny, the most wanted and not so much
  • 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!

  • 2006 Grammy Swag Bag Nabs Rare Bob Dylan Portfolio Collection

    DSC_5397fullcropwm“I had never won anything in my life,” is what my client said when we were discussing the item she was considering for auction. She said she had attended the Grammy’s on multiple occasions and was always excited about the swag bags given to attendees at the after-parties.


    At the after-party in 2006, she said there was a CD in the swag bag, which featured some of the Grammy nominated songs that year. When she opened the CD, there was a number inside. She asked some colleagues what the number referred to, and they told her she had won the corresponding prize matching her number. There were only 10 prizes that year. Her prize – a Portfolio entitled “Bob Dylan: Unscripted” by Douglas R. Gilbert.


    What she didn’t realize at the time was the rarity of this silk spun Portfolio, which contained ten photographer signed silver gelatin prints depicting a young Bob Dylan in 1964. She had an early morning flight to catch the next day so she had the hotel make a box for her. She put the portfolio in the hand-made box and carried it on the plane with her. Ten years later, she has decided to let someone else enjoy the collection.



    My company, Baldini Auction Company, LLC, has been commissioned to sell this very rare edition one of only fifteen ever made silk spun portfolio. This portfolio is being offered in our online auction, which opens June 8th, 2016 and ends June 22nd. It will sell to the highest bidder, regardless of price.


    You never know who’s going to come through the door with something interesting to sell and that’s why I love the auction industry; there’s always something new and different to sell, and we have to figure out the best way to sell it.



    I reached out to Douglas Gilbert, the photographer, and we have been in communication with each other about this unique and rare item. I asked him for an Artist’s Statement and in an email from Mr. Gilbert, he spoke about how he came to meet Bob Dylan and photograph this portfolio collection.


    Gilbert said he first heard of Dylan in 1963, while visiting with friends in New York City. After graduating from college, he went to work for LOOK Magazine. Encouraged by the staff to submit story ideas, Gilbert proposed a story about Bob Dylan, who, at the time, was a rising star in folk music. The magazine agreed and sooDSC_5353fullcropwmn Gilbert was on his way to Woodstock, New York to do a story focusing on Dylan’s offstage life with friends and his more private times. Gilbert said, “Several weeks later, when the story was completed, the editors met to look at the work and killed the story. ‘Too scruffy for a family magazine’ I was told.”


    LOOK Magazine went out of business in the early 70’s and photographers were notified they could retrieve their negatives for a period of time before everything was sent to the Library of Congress. Gilbert was able to get the Dylan story, but was under the impression he didn’t own the copyrights to the photographs. Then, in 2005, while he was visiting with a former staff photographer, Gilbert learned that he did in fact own the copyright to all of the work he had done for LOOK Magazine, including the Dylan material. In 2006, shortly after a major show of his work in Los Angeles, the work becameAV3_3975 a book, “Forever Young:  Photographs of Bob Dylan 1964”.  Dave Marsh wrote the text.


    In reference to the portfolio available in this auction, Gilbert explained, “We decided to offer a limited edition of a select group of photographs in a specially designed box and offer it for sale. Fifteen copies of the ten photographs selected were printed and matted for the box set. Print size is slightly smaller than 11 x 14 inch prints and will keep the fifteen printed unique.  These particular prints were chosen because I felt they were representative of the kinds of activities and home life that are in the complete exhibition.” Each image is photographer signed and numbered.


    It’s not very often you have the opportunity to sell something as iconic as this Portfolio, and we are excited to be able to offer this at auction here in Music City. Go to to view the auction and to learn more about Douglas R. Gilbert, visit

  • Jim Marvin, the Man Behind the Sparkle

    I’m always boasting about the interesting people and clients I have the opportunity to meet and work with in the auction industry, and this month I would like to tell you a little about my newest client and very interesting man, Jim Marvin.


    Jim Marvin, of Jim Marvin Enterprises Ltd., Inc., is president of his own holiday, floral and direct import gift company. He is the artistic creator and designer of Christmas trends extraordinaire, and considered iconic in the holiday design industry for the past 30 years. From the moment I walked in to his design center in Dickson, Tennessee, I was completely surrounded with beautiful holiday décor from the Jim Marvin Collection, and it made me feel happy! As a matter of fact, we hear people sometimes frequent the Design Center just to feel better if they’ve had a bad day. It’s such a nice ambiance! Now let me tell you more about the man behind the collection.


    Jim and the Bubble Gum Tree at the White House 2012

    Jim was invited to volunteer and design product for the White House during the 1997-2014 Christmas seasons.  He was also involved in designing floral decorations for state dinners, special parties and Queen Elizabeth’s visit. In 2012, his decorated trees spanned from the Governor’s mansion in Nashville, Tennessee, the Ronald McDonald House in Little Rock, Arkansas to the White House in Washington, D.C.


    The Jim Marvin Collection is a trademark line, which has been shown in both the national and international markets since 1980. Creation of the Jim Marvin Collection entails extensive travel to Europe, Asia, India and Japan. His ornament lines have been sold via prominent merchants including Horchow, Neiman Marcus, Barney’s and Better Homes and Gardens.


    As a member of American Institute of Floral Designers, Jim has conducted seminars in the United States and Japan on creative design methods and innovative color presentations. He has enjoyed high visibility in the international market for many years with designed products for outstanding and prestigious clients around the world with projects in Japan, Brazil, Belgium, Ireland and Hong Kong.


    Baldini Auction Company, LLC is delighted to offer, at absolute online auction, an incredible array of holiday décor, furniture, displays and quality warehouse shelving from the Jim Marvin Design Center in Dickson, Tennessee.


    Please join us for this brilliant and ornate online only auction closing on May 25th, starting at 2:00pm CT, with onsite inspection in Dickson on Tuesday, May 24th from 10:00 am to 3:00pm.

  • Oh, Now I Get It!

    I’m in the market for a “new” used car, so naturally I’m noticing all of the commercials for new cars. It’s funny because I don’t remember there being so many car commercials on television. It’s only now that I’m in the market to buy a car that I am noticing and listening to all of the commercials.


    The same is true when you finally realize you may need to sell things for any number of reasons and you’re looking for a venue to sell these things. Perhaps you’re at a stage in life where you’re trying to downsize, perhaps you have an elderly parent moving into assisted living, or perhaps you have lost a relative and you are now an Executor or Executrix needing to liquidate an estate.  Hiring an auctioneer to handle this for you may seem very foreign because you certainly don’t see a lot of commercials for auctioneers, so how do you find a qualified auctioneer? That’s where I come in.


    downloadLiquidating an entire estate can seem like a daunting task, but auctioneers are quite used to working with these situations. It’s actually what we do best! You’ve probably noticed auction signs from time to time but didn’t pay much attention unless you were in the market for hiring an auctioneer. Then, you noticed all of those signs and you also started noticing all of the other auction advertisements.


    I’m going to share a little inside information with you…there’s a strategy to putting up auction signs and it’s all about timing. We don’t like to post auction signs onsite too far out from the auction date and we don’t like to post signs too close to the auction date either. Here’s why: you will typically drive by an auction sign for a few days before you actually notice the sign. Then, you will look at that sign every single day until auction day. If an auctioneer puts that sign up too far in advance the sign will become invisible after a couple of weeks and you will stop looking. You’ll forget about the auction until you notice the sign is gone. If an auctioneer puts up the auction sign too close to the auction date, you may not feel like you have time to prepare and just think to yourself, “well never-mind”.



    So how do you hire the right Auctioneer for your particular need? Research. More than likely, you may not have even thought about hiring an auctioneer to help you with your particular “sale” need. Start with professional organizations like the Tennessee Auctioneers Association (TAA). There, you’ll find a listing of all of the members of the TAA. Or, simply ask around. Word of mouth is still the best advertising.


    42We are a professionally regulated and licensed industry, and we answer to an Auction Commission under the Department of Commerce and Insurance for the State of Tennessee. Since we are a licensed and regulated industry, we’re continually updating our education to reflect new market trends and new ways to simply be better and more efficient at what we do.


    From contract to close, a professional auctioneer can assist you with whatever you are selling, whether it’s real estate, personal property or business equipment. There are also many different auction sales platforms to consider; live, online only and even simulcast auctions. There is a huge buying market nationwide, and marketing your assets to the right buyer group is vital.


    So, the next time you have something to sell, or know of someone who is handling an estate or real estate and needs to sell, think of hiring a professional auctioneer. It’s probably going to be the best decision you make. Now do you get it?

  • The Relevance of the Inevitable “Why”

    Hopefully, everyone has 12524211_10100440232317905_1376330343100716571_nenjoyed/survived the “snowpocalypse” of 2016. As I marveled at the heavy snowfall on Friday, knowing I was inside and prepared, I started wondering why snow events in the Nashville area weren’t as significant as I remembered growing up. Thinking of the relevance of that “why” inspired me to talk a bit about the auction “why”.


    When I started as an apprentice auctioneer, one of the first lessons I learned was how to be a better listener. It didn’t matter if I was booking farm equipment or fine antiques, the client always had a “why” they were selling and I had to learn how to listen for that. If I didn’t hear an answer to that question, I simply asked. You see, not every situation is a good auction situation and the “why” is sometimes crucial in determining if the auction is a good fit. The “why” must be genuine.


    An auction ad with the headline “Estate Auction” makes sense and the “why” is obvious. There has been a death and the sale is being conducted for the heirs or perhaps a Conservator or Administrator working on behalf of the heirs. That is the true definition of an Estate Sale and in the auction industry it is by far the golden headline. Buyers know and trust the “why” and therefore trust the process. You’ll certainly not see those words used for an auction by an auctioneer unless it is truly an auction conducted to liquidate an estate, meaning real estate and/or personal property. Now I know what you’re thinking. You see the words “Estate Sale” being over-used by non-auction companies everywhere from a tag sale to a moving sale. Well, I can’t speak for their industry, only mine.


    Every so often the reason “why” is what garners so much attention and interest, and auctioneers try to be as transparent with buyers as possible; however, our first responsibility is to be loyal and sometimes discreet regarding our clients. Think of it this way, what is true for love is true for business, “Without trust, there is nothing” and that goes for sellers as well as buyers.


    DSC_0763I enjoy telling the stories behind some of the unique pieces I have the opportunity to sell, and I find the people behind the pieces particularly fascinating. When I am given permission, I enjoy sharing their stories with my buyers. It’s the element of the unknown that makes the auction so fascinating and when bidders have control in determining what they will pay for something, it creates a great sense of empowerment!


    Whether you have real estate, an estate, a business liquidation or simply personal property to sell, the auction sets an end date to your particular project so you can move forward.  Couple an aggressive marketing plan with a strong auction market, and the auction can realize a very competitive market price.


    So, the next time you wonder, “Why auction”? The reason is simple…it works!

  • James A. Newman, an Early Tennessee Politician

    bU6PdKnCIGg-OE6mlc5YYr3ob5Ez1rEzBZdI2XlR9eQThis month’s auction ending Wednesday, November 18th, is for the family of the late James A. Newman, who was born in 1892 and passed away in 1964.  He was a lawyer and an American politician and his colleagues affectionately nicknamed him “Judge” for the many times he served as a special Judge for the various courts in Nashville.


    He served in the military during WWI and when he returned, he practiced law. In 1939, he was elected to the State Senate and supported a number of important measures while in the General Assembly. He was a life long Democrat, and was a staunch suppoazGpkCfzQE6q74y5d_l2LwlwpbvoD1HljbHz44mfQnUrter of TVA. He authored a bill calling for establishment of a “non-political” electric power board and for 17 months served as general counsel for the Nashville Electric Power Board.


    Mr. Newman was a founder and active member of the First Christian Church and served for a short time as minister. He resided on Eastland avenue, and we have a letter from J. Percy Priest dated December 17, 1945 accepting an invitation to Mr. Newman’s home on Christmas Day.  He was also a member of the Nashville and Tennessee Bar Association and a 33rd degree Mason.

  • Every Seller Has a Story

    A large part of what makes the auction industry so intriguing is the people we meet.  As auctioneers we have the opportunity to learn a little bit about a family’s history and present some of the wonderful collections that people have taken lifetimes to amass. In this month’s auction we have the pleasure of selling some items for some very interesting people, and would like to highlight two of those people in this blog post: the late Mr. Forrest Cress and Ms. Barbara Ihrig.


    Forrest Cress was born on February 14th, 1892. He worked for Standard Oil Company, who sent him to China in 1916 during World War I. In a handwritten narrative of his life, part of which is pictured, Mr. Cress writes that he was also working on special assignment for the U.S. government reporting to the American military attaché in Peking during the war. Later in his career he joined General Motors, then joined Chrysler Export Corporation where he managed the Far East and South East Asian division for over 20 years. During the Great Depression Mr. Cress was sent to work in South Africa for four years, and then returned to the Far East where he lived and worked until he retired in 1957. During World War II, Mr. Cress spent two years in the Philippines as a Japanese prisoner of war, a fact that is detailed in multiple pieces of government correspondence preserved by the Cress family, and on file with the Smithsonian Institute.


    We are in possession of several interesting pieces of correspondence belonging to Mr. Cress, and will exhibit these during our inspection on October 13th. These include documents from the State Department concerning his passage from Asia to America on the MS Gripsholm, an information packet detailing relief measures for American POWs in the Philippines, a 1915 letter from Standard Oil, as well as several of Mr. Cress’ business cards. While these documents are not included in this auction, I think they will certainly provide credibility to the remaining items we are selling on behalf of his heirs. Some of his items in this month’s auction include a personalized sterling silver Siam cigarette case, a ship carved out of rose quartz, and a brilliant agate incense pot.


    DSC_5345This month we are also selling some items for Barbara Ihrig, a very sharp 94-year-old woman who has seen much change in her lifetime. One particularly interesting item we are selling for Ms. Ihrig is an extraordinary hand-written and hand-illustrated book dated 1888. This book, which meticulously details scientific and zoological theories, was written and illustrated by Mr. Hugh E. Hammond, who was an eccentric and reclusive neighbor Ms. Ihrig once had in upstate New York. During one of our meetings with Ms. Ihrig and her daughter, they told us that Mr. Hammond had no family to look after him, so every day for five years they visited him to take him food. Ms. Ihrig’s daughter vividly remembers Mr. Hammond walking down the stairs on his hands with his legs straight up in the air during these visits. Other items we are selling for Ms. Ihrig include two early 20th century signed Asian lacquerware pieces, old pocket watches, and an old cannonball rope bed.


    One reason I am so enamored with this industry is because I love the stories behind the people and the items I sell for them, and I believe auction bidders do too. Sometimes it’s the story behind the piece that induces a person to bid. Whether I’m selling an estate for heirs who have lost a loved one or selling for someone who simply wants to share some of their pieces with someone else, I have certainly learned the most important lesson: When you take the time to listen, everyone has a story.

  • Auction Communities Big and Small

    NAA-logo-300x232No matter what industry you choose to work, it’s nice to feel a sense of camaraderie with your fellow colleagues. It’s even better when you can all come together in one place to hone your skills and share war stories. I was in Dallas recently, where I attended the 66th annual International Auctioneers Conference and Show. There were over 1,000 auctioneers in attendance from all over the world, including South Africa, Ireland and even China.


    We enjoyed an opening night welcome party at Eddie Dean’s Ranch featuring nine time Grammy winner Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel. The InterContinental Hotel made its home to a very impressive Trade Show featuring over 60 auctionIMG_1343 related vendors and multiple educational seminars every day. As you can imagine, there were also several auctions. There’s just nothing like an auction when there are so many auctioneers in the same room!


    The week was capped off with the International Auctioneer Championship. This year, there were 97 contestants from all over the world. Congratulations to Tammy Tisland of Hines, Minnesota and Peter Gheres of Hiliard, Ohio.


    Here’s to networking into the wee hours of the morning. Until next year, my fellow colleagues… get some rest!


    NASlogoI also had the opportunity recently to be a guest instructor at the Nashville Auction School, which is located in Tullahoma, Tennessee. There were 18 eager students representing 3 states for this particular 84 hour course. I must say, they did a great job. On one of their final days in Tullahoma, they actually set up and conducted a live benefit auction. The auction was open to the public and the community really turned out to support the auction. Each studenIMG_1433t sold 5 items, showcasing their new skills, and all of the proceeds collected that evening benefitted St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. I was the happy bidder and buyer of some farm fresh produce! Aside from the community catfish dinner before the auction, the student auction was the highlight of my visit!


    Good luck to the new students of the Nashville Auction School. Remember, your name is all you’ve really “Got” so treat it well.

  • How to Respect Auction Tradition While Embracing Technology

    I find myself saying things like, “When I started in the business…” and, “I remember when…” Instead of thinking those statements date me, I prefer to say they show character and experience.


    It’s true folks…I do remember when I started in the business and the only advertising options were the newspapers and mailing out what we called sale bills. Now print ads have taken a back seat to online postings. Estate sales were always done on a Saturday, and when we had an estate sale we would have to get to the sale site around five a.m. just to get all of the personal property out ofDSC_1503-2 the house and under the tent. By the time the auction started, around nine or ten, we were pretty worn out, but that’s when our job as auctioneers got started for the day. Today, most auctions are conducted during the week because we know our buyers are busy on the weekends. Time has become our biggest commodity. Our sound equipment used to be our biggest investment; today it’s our website.


    On a cold day I would use Hot Hands inside my gloves and Hot Feet inside my boots. Sometimes, the clerk’s pen would keep freezing making it difficult to write tickets. For the comfort of the auction attendees, we usually had those propane fueled torpedo style heaters and if you got too close to them they would melt a hole in your coat!! Yes, I know this first hand. If it snowed in the winter, it didn’t matter, because the auction always goes on! You see, once you actually made it to the auction, you were committed. No one left until the auction was over; that was tradition. Now for those of you who have never attended a live auction event like that, you’re really missing out. Those types of auctions build character!


    In 2001, I was presented with an opportunity to sell the contents of 400 offices, 4 offsite storage facilities, and a 30,000 square foot warehouse full of office equipment. I knew I could not conduct a traditional walk around auction, so I turned to the new technology I had been hearing and learning about at our National Auctioneer Conventions, and voila – the rest is, as we say, history.


    Using technology in the auction world actually made me respect the tradition of the auction method. Utilizing technology has made many parts of my business easier, however, it has also forced me to learn how to market an asset to an audience I can no longer look square in the eye. I’m no longer shopping for the best sound equipment or outdoor gear; I’m shopping for the best online software.


    Here’s a tip…Did you know that on a cold auction day,

    if you stand on a piece of cardboard or put your feet inside

    of a cardboard box, your feet won’t get nearly as cold? You’re welcome.


    So you see, nothing gets done by magic in the auction world. Instead, it’s learning how to balance auction tradition with the utilization of technology. Whenever I can, I still market an asset by visiting individuals and places of business. I use the technology platform as my auction tool. As a past mentor taught me, the secret to having a good auction is “Preparation, preparation and a little bit of luck!”

  • Objet D’ Art vs Objet de Vertu

    DSC_1297When you hear the phrase objet d’ art, you probably think of antiques, textiles, porcelain, and three dimensional items; and you would be right. An objet d’art refers to art objects that are not paintings, sculptures, prints or drawings. It’s the term for “everything else”.  An objet de vertu is intended to suggest a higher standard of objet d’ art using precious metals and gemstones; which brings me to the Eggs of Theo Fabergé and his St. Petersburg Collection. Baldini Auction Company, LLC has been contracted to sell eight of these Eggs at absolute online auction, which is open for bidding now and ends on June 17th at 2:00pm CT.


    Theo Fabergé started the St. Petersburg Collection in 1985 and there DSC_1247are approximately 60 Eggs in the collection, some of which have been retired.  As stated, we are selling eight Eggs from this collection. Theo Fabergé personally designed every creation, and he used only the finest materials. The Russian Imperial Crown on each Egg is made of sterling silver and 24-ct gold with a cabochon ruby.  The woods used in his creations, and represented in the auction, are most often exotic woods. Crystal, sterling silver and vermeil are also commonly used in the Eggs.


    Sarah Fabergé’s DSC_0959Spring Egg from her “Seasons Collection” is also included in our auction.  Sarah was Theo’s only daughter and she launched her first design for the St. Petersburg Collection in 1994. Her Spring Egg features a brilliant yellow enameled exterior and the interior reveals tiny yellow primrose flowers and a sleeping snail hiding under the petals.


    Whether you think these pieces reflect objets d’ art or objets de vertu, you should treat yourself to this auction. In my 20+ year career, this is the first time I have had the opportunity to sell a Theo Fabergé Egg. Look at each Egg in the auction, each picture, and read each description because I think you’ll be as in awe as I was. What’s more amazing than that is realizing you could OWN one of these Eggs. Remember, each Egg is selling to the highest bidder, regardless of price. This time, we’re selling opportunity.

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