In this month’s auction, we have a nice variety of unique items. There are over 350 lots from several estates and the auction includes everything from diamond jewelry and gold coins to furniture, collectibles and two rare one-of-a-kind electric guitars. Let’s talk about the guitars we’re selling. We have a Virgil “Silver Willow” with a serial number 2, and a prototype Teye “Coyote Brand of Gypsys”guitar. I had the opportunity and pleasure to speak with the creators of these magnificent guitars, and both were very gracious with their time. I spoke with Virgil Mandanici from Virgil Guitars, which is headquartered in Tampa, Florida. He told me the guitar in our auction was the first carved-top guitar he built that he actually sold. He built the “Silver Willow” in 2012 and it was definitely a labor of love. There were only three in the SW series; Diablo, which found a home in Japan, the Dream Catcher, which is in Germany, and the Silver Willow, which is the one we are selling in the auction. He described the Silver Willow as the “Mother” in this series. The previous owner, who has passed away, once stated: “It is the most exquisite and finely crafted guitar I have ever seen, let alone owned.”
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.”
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”.
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.
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 on stage in Jackson Hall.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
State’s first female Hall of Fame auctioneer gets rare chance to shine: The Tennessean, November 28th, 2016
Baldini Auction Company would like to thank Jessica Bliss and Lacy Adkins for taking time out of their busy schedule to showcase our notable Civil War auction. The full story can be found at www.tennessean.com.