WOBURN, Mass. – To better serve a growing roster of clients in the greater Massachusetts area, James D. Julia has opened a satellite office at the historic 1790 House, 827 Main St. The location will offer consignment and appraisal services as well as a drop off point for sales conducted at Julia’s Fairfield, Maine, headquarters. It is also the new workspace for two high-profile antiques auction experts: James Callahan and Martin Willis.
James Callahan will serve as Julia’s new director of Asian Arts. Callahan is a long-time Boston-area antique dealer, appraiser and consultant. He became enthralled with Asian art at a very young age. By the time he was 11 years old, he was the youngest exhibitor at a Boston area antiques show. He has worked with auction houses since the 1970s and was most recently director of Asian Works of Arts Department at Skinner, Inc., for 16 years where he built the department’s annual sales from $230,000 to $11 million.
As an appraiser, Callahan’s greatest expertise is in the area of Asian art, culture and customs, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Khmer, Thai, Burmese, Ottoman Turkish, Armenian, Arabic, Persian and Indian. He also has great experience and knowledge as a generalist appraiser with expertise in arms and armor, 19th-century European and American furniture and decorative arts, jewelry, fine silver from the 18th to the 20th century and paintings and prints.
Callahan has appeared regularly on the PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow” since 1996 and will continue to do so under the name of James D. Julia Auctioneers. He is a frequent lecturer and consultant to museums, historical societies and independent art groups. He assisted the Brooklyn Museum of Art to bring to auction a large collection of over 200 pieces of Southeast Asian art that had originated from the collection of Samuel Eilenberg.
Callahan also serves a consultant and over the years he has conducted innumerable appraisals of major collections and estates. Via his private consulting service he will continue to provide independent appraisals and consultations for clients throughout North America. As a specialty consultant for Julia’s he will also provide catalog descriptions for future Asian arts auctions.
Martin Willis will also work in the Woburn office as director of the Decorative Arts Department for the greater Boston area. Formerly of New Hampshire, Willis comes from a family of auctioneers: his dad, Morgan Willis developed and ran the Seaboard Auction Gallery in Eliot, Maine, for many years, which Martin eventually took over.
His 40 years experience in the antique auction business was developed at companies in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Colorado and California. He spent six years with Clars Auction Gallery of Oakland, Calif., as senior appraiser, cataloger and auctioneer. At Clars he consulted and did appraisals for various collectors and estates including the estate of TV mogul Merv Griffin and talk show host Tom Snyder. In 1989, his auction company conducted the famous Josiah Bartlett Auction in New Hampshire. Bartlett was a signer of The Declaration of Independence and the estate was a veritable time capsule of extraordinary and historic antiquities, which descended from this famous family.
In 2009, Martin launched Antique Auction Forum, a biweekly podcast on the art and antiques trade. This popular podcast has followers across North America and throughout the world. Over the years he has served on numerous boards and offered his services as benefit auctioneer for special events and organizations and has, and continues to lecture on antiques and auctions.
He served as a columnist, writing for “What’s It Worth” in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle, Antique Trader and WorthPoint as well managing an important blog on issues pertaining to the antiques trade. Marty has over 40 years in the auction business and is certainly a familiar figure here in New England.
About Woburn’s 1790 House, aka the Joseph Bartlett House or the Bartlett-Wheeler House
The historic and elegant 1790 House is on the U.S. National Registry of Historical Places. It is often referred to as the Joseph Bartlett House or the Bartlett-Wheeler House. It’s very possible the “Bartlett” referred to in the title could be related to the famous Josiah Bartlett, signor of the Declaration of Independence and the namesake of the famous estate which Willis auctioned back in 1989. This house was built in 1790 on the banks of the Middlesex Canal for Woburn lawyer, Joseph Bartlett.
The house was acquired some years back and partially restored to its present elegance by the current owner. The structure stands two stories tall with a hip roof seven bays wide and four bays deep. It features a two-tiered Doric porch, projecting from the front facade with single story Tuscan pillars supporting the porch and two-story Doric pillars at the corners. The upper level has a balustrade with Chinese railings.