BOTKINBURG, Ark. — Roger and Leigh Hughes of Denver, Colo., drove to the Antique Warehouse auction on a whim. They’ve been building a house in Bull Shoals, Ark., and decided to take a break and head for Memphis. A sign for “Giant Antique Auction” caught their eye on U.S. Highway 65, about an hour before they would have reached Little Rock.
Little did they know that they would hit a personal jackpot.
“We’re giving them as gifts with Arkansas moonshine,” Roger said, clinking one of four 1920s English hammered-pewter mugs with another held by his wife. They had been looking for a way to share the gift from a friend of the homemade liquid refreshment that these Ozark hills are known for. The tankards will become Christmas gifts. And they’ll pour the homemade beverage from any in the collection of British ginger bottles that they also won.
By most accounts, the first inventory clearance auction for Antique Warehouse in 25 years should have had a crowd four times larger than the 40 to 50 people who came. The auction inventory on auctionzip.com recorded approximately 1,900 unique computer users. But severe weather had been predicted for this Saturday event. The auction didn’t become the indicator of the antiques market in the mid-South as had been anticipated.
Those who track the mid-South antique auction market probably will have to average other recent auctions for a better feel. The Aug. 28 antiques auction at Pinnacle Auction and Estate Service in Little Rock had a turnout of about 130 people. The upcoming Oct. 16-18 Arkansas Antique Dealer Association Show & Sale in Little Rock expects to draw at least 50 dealers from 12 or more states. (See breakout box for details.)
But let it be known: Those who missed the Sept. 19 auction missed one of the finest showings of European antiques in the South.
“For Arkansas,” said auctioneer Don Saugey, of Pinnacle Auction and Estate Service, “the level of quality of merchandise in this sale is probably the top echelon of what is offered.”
About two items in the auction came from the United States. The rest came from countries like France, Italy, Scotland, Czechoslovakia, Holland, United Kingdom, Romania and Indonesia.
These diverse, foreign antiques reflect the European trade interests of brothers Don and Lyn Keathley. They’ve been in the business more than 40 years. For the past 25 years, they’ve owned and operated Antique Warehouse here on U.S. Highway 65, between Conway, Ark., and Branson, Mo. Collectors will find 12 warehouses with six showrooms.
Debby and Larry Dvorak of Harrison, Ark., sure left smiling. They collect wall clocks like Gustav Becker, one-weight, two-weight and three-weight clocks, and R-A (speed adjustable) clocks. The German box clocks caught their attention and they added to their collection with this auction.
“They’re not our favorite, the box clocks, but at that price, what the heck?” Debby said.
Shay Raycher, booth owner at Jennifer’s Antiques in Conway, Ark., heard about the auction through Don and Phyllis Saugey, both licensed auctioneers. Raycher directly attributed the low turnout to the forecast of poor driving weather. She also expressed concerns that not enough young people were developing an interest in antiques.
A familiar face in the crowd was Jane Lambert of Conway, Ark., former owner for more than three decades of the red barn antique business visible from the intersection of Interstate 40 and U.S. Highway 65. She sold the red barn, which still is an antiques business, but re-opened as Blue Ribbon Arts in downtown Conway.
“I was really disappointed for the owner,” Lambert said, adding that “things went super cheap, way below cost” at the auction.
But she described the antiques market in the mid-South as having bottomed out and on the rebound. She has noticed more people are buying and looking at antiques this year compared to last year.
So it’s a safe bet that once the economy turns around, the Antique Warehouse sale in September of ‘09 may go down in the history books as the “one that got away.”
Except for those like Roger and Leigh Hughes. Their luck worked spectacularly well. They have the antiques to prove it. And they’ll be telling their friends about the fine European furniture they saw at Antique Warehouse.
Just like fishing, when you own the auction house where someone found “a big one,” you can count on more people coming to see for themselves what the excitement was all about.
“We’ve been to Minnesota and traveled the country,” Leigh said, “and this is one of the best places.”
John J. Archibald is a publisher in Benton, Ark. Contact him: email@example.com or P.O. Box 147, Benton, AR 72018.
Antique Warehouse Auction Highlights
Three-stack mahogany 1920s barrister bookcase, oversize low shelf, $305
Early 1900s German wall clock, unknown make, $125
Oak secretary with heavy knobs, $120
Oak sewing box on legs, 1930s, $50
Chinese woman figurine, United Kingdom, 1950s, $12.50
Two brass vases, France, with about 3-inch round dangling handles, $50
1915 Empire Ware 19-piece dining set, $25
Ginger beer bottles, 8 ct., $30 for the lot
Invalid cup, UK, with partly covered top and teapot-like spout, $15
Four hammered pewter tankards, 1920s, small but various sizes, $15 for the lot
1890s Spode Chinese Rose pattern platters with markings on back, $40
1880s Stanley oval serving platter, about 24 inches by 14 inches, blue art on white background, $65
Nickel-plate three-candle candelabra, 1930s, about 18 inches tall, $15
21-piece Royal Crown 1930 bone china dessert set, green leaf accents on white, $25
Pottery cheese dish, circa 1900, gold edging, green handle on white cover, $27.50
Italian copper and brass teapot, early 1900s, $45
1890s clear glass cod bottles, buyer’s choice at $7.50 each.
Three 1937 pressed glass plates, King George VI coronation, $20
Pewter teapot, French, early 1900s, approximately 12-14 inches tall with lid, cylinder throat, large bulb bottom, no dents, $50
Talbot pewter tea service: two teacups, one pot, one creamer pot, $45
22 bottles, early 1900s, United Kingdom, grape juice, with labels, $20
1900 brass teapot, 12 inches tall, round with ornate spigot and four ball feet, $65
Antique Warehouse of Arkansas, Don or Lyn Keathley, Highway 65 and Highway 110, Botkinburg, AR. 501-745-5842. www.antiquewarehouse.com