After more than four decades as a successful high-end auctioneer, George Ferrell is closing the doors to his business. That does not mean, however, that he won’t be involved any longer with the antiques world. People like Ferrell can never really leave their passion for great antiques behind.
Instead of the daily grind of running his business, Ferrell instead will be opting for time with his family, time to travel, and time to enjoy the fruits of his labor. None of this will happen, however, before one last giant closeout sale, in which the entire contents of the auction business will be sold off, along with fine autos, a superb Denver estate, and a significant trio of real estate holdings.
“What I’ll miss the most will be the people,” Ferrell said. “I’ve come to know so many folks and have made many fine friends over the years.”
It would be hard sell as many thousands of antiques, in the course of hundreds of sales, as Ferrell has and not come out of it without the respect and admiration of those people that have become his friends, and indeed Ferrell has continued to receive requests to conduct sales from people, even after it became known he was closing his business.
Ferrell’s journey into antiques and rise as an auctioneer began the way so many careers in the business do: He simply fell into it.
“I started buying and selling antiques and wholesaling them as a way to make some extra money,” he said. “Soon I had so many that my garage was full I had to do something. So I thought, ‘I’ll have an auction here at my house.’”
After hiring a local area auction firm to conduct the sale, Ferrell was soon back on the buying trail and soon in the same position.
“A month later I find myself in the same position,” he said. “I hired the same company to do it again, and from then on I had an auction once a month. I soon figured out that I could do the same thing myself and two years later I created and opened up my auction company.”
Ferrell’s talent for getting his hands on a wide variety of antiques was amply evident in those early days, and by the mid-1970s, it was also evident that he had that most elusive trait that separates the wheat from the chaff in the antiques business: the “eye.”
Not only was Ferrell soon making his living from his antique auctions, he was making a good living from good antiques and people had begun to seek him out. Word of his skill spread quickly.
“I found out in the first couple of years that people really liked the best and that I enjoyed the best myself,” Ferrell said. “I started looking for the best and people started contacting me when they wanted to sell real good stuff, and also when they wanted to buy really good antiques.”
As his business grew and expanded, Ferrell found himself conducting monthly sales not only in Colorado, but also on Texas and Missouri. As the number and scope of those sales expanded, so too did the profile of the sales Ferrell conducted.
While there have been more than even Ferrell can remember, a few sales and items stick out in his memory, including the 1984 liquidation of Red Whaley’s private museum in Forny, Texas, of clocks, music machines (from 35 feet long and 12 feet tall) to music boxes, and coin-op arcade slots.
“People came from 21 different countries,” Ferrell said. “The antique business was very soft at this time, but the sale was quite successful.”
There were also classic car auctions in the ’80s, as well, and a collection of cameo lamps – one of which sold three years later at Sotheby’s for $235,000 – as well as a French commode that came out of Tulsa, Okla., that brought $80,000 at Ferrell’s firm and which, five years after that, sold in Morocco for $385,000.
When Ferrell liquidates his business on July 12 and 13, the sale promises to equal the biggest and the best of his storied auction career, and to be one of the hottest sales of the entire summer. Buyers are expected to fly in from across the nation and from around the globe, as well as tune in to eBay Live Auctions to bid on the simulcast. It promises to make for an exciting sale.
Highlights of the sale will include, but are certainly not limited to: a heavily carved oak Alexander Roux dining room suite; a five piece J and J Meeks Hawkins parlor set; an extra grade Wooten desk; a Black Forest carved eight-piece dining room set; a Rosewood Belter sofa; a large Horner china cabinet with mermaids on the front; a 27-inch Regina disc floor model changer music machine; a four-piece Mitchells and Rammelsberg bedroom set and a collection of stick and ball fretwork furniture.
Further highlights of the massive sale will see Ferrell selling several rare mechanical banks, a wide variety of Victorian art glass, a collection of clocks including an upside down swinging mystery clock, a J and J Meeks game table with inlay, several life-size bronzes, a Karpen library table, four Wooten desks, chandeliers, original advertising paintings and pictures, a signed C. Lee half-tester bed, a bronze rotating floor cue rack, two rare Victrola lamps, figural marble fireplace mantels, a 1927 Chevy C-Cab truck, a Ural Russian motorcycle with sidecar. The property that Ferrell will also be auctioning off in the sale will include a 3,900 square foot house in Loveland, as well as a 170-acre farm in Clay Center, Kans., and 17 1/2 acres of prime land on Highway 36 in Estes Park, Colo.
“That’s just touching on what’s there,” said Ferrell.
All lots will be sold without reserve with a 10 percent buyer’s premium, except real estate.
The auction will start on Saturday, July 12, at 10 a.m., and on Sunday, July 13 at noon. A preview will be held July 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 970-635-0044, email email@example.com, or visit www.ferrellauction.com.