Bidder sinks fangs into vampire killing kit for $14,850

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Vampire killing kit.

A complete and authentic vampire killing kit – made around 1800 and complete with stakes, mirrors, a gun with silver bullets, crosses, a Bible, holy water, candles and even garlic, all housed in a handsome American walnut case with a carved cross on top – hammered for $14,850 at the Jimmy Pippen estate sale held Oct. 3-4 in the brand new Natchez Convention Center.

Pippen was one of the most legendary interior designers in the South before his recent untimely death at age 53 in Natchez. “Mr. Pippen used both old and new to create tasteful ambiences in some of the finest homes in the Southeastern United States,” said Dwight Stevens of Stevens Auction Company, which conducted the sale. “He was a friend who died too young, and at the top of his game.”

The sale comprised the contents of Pippen’s stores (Pippen Antiques and Pippen Interiors); items from his personal residence (which he considered a perfect creation and called “Paradise”); the contents of another home (a three-story, 1850s townhouse called “The Orchard” that he restored with spectacular appointments and rented to friends and associates); and treasures from several warehouses.

The Friday session was dedicated mostly to the newer items in Mr. Pippen’s vast collections. The Saturday session proved to be the main event, with a crowd of about 300 people packing the convention center to bid on wonderful period furniture items, decorative accessories, fine art and more. Also sold was the living estate of Mr. Charles Davenport, Pippen’s neighbor and friend.

“The Natchez Fall Pilgrimage was going on that weekend, so we got some additional traffic from that event,” said Mr. Stevens. “It was almost like we had two sales on Saturday. The daytime crowd stayed ’til around six in the evening, then a whole new crowd poured in. Buying was active and enthusiastic for the full duration of the day – 11 hours and 45 minutes. We didn’t finish until 9:45 p.m.”

The vampire killing kit probably got more attention than any other item in the sale (and it was the second such kit Stevens has sold in Natchez; the last one, in 2000, went for $7,800). But it was not the top lot of the day. That honor went to a monumental rosewood Renaissance Victorian bedroom suite, made circa 1860 and attributed to John Jelliff. The suite went to a determined bidder for $33,000.

Following are additional highlights from the sale. Prices include a 10 percent buyer’s premium.

Antique beds, a staple at many Stevens auctions, did very well. A rococo mahogany half tester queen-size plantation bed (circa 1855), attributed to Willliam McCracken, soared to $20,900; another example attributed to McCracken, a rosewood tester bed standing 9 feet 4 inches tall (circa 1845), achieved $18,700; and a mahogany half tester bed attributed to Signouret (circa 1850) made $17,600.

From the period furniture offerings, a French Empire pier table, with original gold leaf stenciling and marble columns (circa 1830), coasted to $14,400; a Louisiana-made cypress plantation cupboard, made by slaves around 1800 and measuring 8 feet tall by 52 inches wide, earned $11,550; and a rosewood armoire with birdseye maple interior, attributed to P. Mallard (circa 1855), hit $7,700.

Continuing the category, an 11-piece Louis Philippe salon suite with needlepoint (circa 1860) realized $18,700; a Meeks Rococo rosewood marble-top parlor sideboard (circa 1850) changed hands for $5,040; a Meeks rosewood Rococo marble-top dressing table crossed the block at $3,520; and an ebonized parlor cabinet with Sevres plaque and bronze Armolu mounts (circa 1870) gaveled for $3,300.

From the fine art selection, an oil on canvas portrait of a Frenchman in its original gilt frame (39 inches by 50 inches) brought $5,280; an oil on canvas portrait of a young boy, signed C. Campbell (circa 1886, 30 inches by 44 inches), went for $3,520; and a 19th-century copy of a 16th-century oil on canvas painting of soldiers on horses taking two nude ladies (58 inches by 4 feet) climbed to $1,760.

Decorative accessories were in abundance. A 19th-century copy of a marble sculpture of winged figures, with a green marble pedestal, garnered $3,960; an Old Paris 3-piece mantle set, with two vases 19 inches tall and a centerpiece 10 inches tall by 12 inches wide (circa 1850), made $3,740; and a pair of Victorian crystal candelabras, signed Baccarat (circa 1900) realized $3,740 for the pair.

Also from the decorative accessories category: a Sevres capped urn made around 1880 hit the mark at $1,980; a gilt bronze mantle clock with Roman figure (circa 1800) also chalked up $1,980; and a hand-painted portrait on porcelain of a lady (circa 1880, 12 inches by 3 1/2 inches) brought $660. Also, a Sebastian Erard rosewood harp (circa 1825, Patent No. 4596) played a sweet tune for $7,920.

A marvelous fairy lamp collection came up for bid. All were made around the 1880s. Top lots included a double Burmese fairy lamp ($3,080); a Burmese epergne with four-fairy lamp ($2,860); a Royal Worchester figural double fairy lamp ($2,420); and a pair of Cricklite Royal Worchester fairy lamps ($1,980). Also, a Baccarat banquet lamp made around 1860, 32 inches tall, commanded $1,980.

Rounding out the weekend’s top lots: a 19th-century American Empire mahogany slipper seat (circa 1840) hammered for $6,160; an unusually tall bronze Astral lamp (36 inches tall, with 10-inch prisms, circa 1850) fetched $4,070; a Victorian sterling repose tea service 5-piece set (circa 1900) went for $3,740; and a 19th-century Old Sheffield plate epergne, silver on copper (circa 1890), hit $2,860.

Normally, Stevens Auction Company wraps up its auction year in October, but Stevens said he has so many top-quality consignments stacked up waiting for sale, he has no choice but to conduct at least one auction in November, maybe two. The firm’s calendar shows a late October estate sale planned, but so far the November date(s) have not been posted. Further details will be forthcoming.

Stevens Auction Company conducts on-site sales throughout the Southeast and at its gallery facility at 609 No. Meridian Street in Aberdeen, Miss. (located about 135 miles southeast of Memphis). The firm is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign an item, estate or collection, you may call them at 662-369-2200, or e-mail them at stevensauction@bellsouth.net.

For more information, or to view the Stevens Auction Company calendar of upcoming sales, log on to www.stevensauction.com.

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