Fine Southern estate, collection of antiques to be sold in March auction

ABERDEEN, Miss. — The estate of the late Virginia Sykes, a longtime resident of Aberdeen, Miss., will be sold at an on-site auction on March 27, beginning at 10 a.m., by Stevens Auction Company, based in Aberdeen. The absolute auction (everything goes, regardless of price) will be held at 301 High Street in Aberdeen, located about 35 miles southeast of Tupelo, Miss., on U.S. Route 45.

“Mrs. Sykes’ story is one of history, romance, dedication and Southern grace, all of which can be seen through the wonderful collection of antiques and fine items she gained over nearly 70 years in Aberdeen,” said Dwight Stevens of Stevens Auction Company. He said a preview of the items would be held on March 26, from 10-6, and that doors to the auction would open on March 27 at 8 a.m.

Furniture items will include a Regency-style bracket foot mahogany china cabinet with 13-pane doors, while clock aficionados will be intrigued by a circa-1780 crotch mahogany Scottish grandfather clock by John Munro (Glasgow, Scotland), hand-painted on the face with a scene of an Irish clan. Also certain to get paddles wagging is a fine gold Victorian 2-piece marble-top pier mirror, made circa 1850.

Decorative accessories will be served up in abundance. Examples include a Tiffany & Co. hand-engraved, sterling silver rectangular double vegetable dish, 46.6 troy ounces; a brass 4-light gasolier with four etched satin glass shades and prisms, 40 inches tall; and a Gorham helmet-shaped sterling silver heavy tea service with four seasons masks and lion, and shield finials (coffee, tea, cream, sugar).

Also sold will be a Victorian Italian center bowl with hand-painted and embossed flowers with bronze mounts, 12 1/2 inches in diameter; a round sterling footed fruit bowl (London, 1899), hand chased, 8 inches by 3/4 inch and weighing 16.2 troy ounces; and a sterling silver cake server set (knife and fork), still in the original presentation box and made circa 1851 by Black Ball & Company.

Coins and paper money will also cross the block, including a Series 1929 $10 bill, on The First National Bank of Aberdeen, signed by Eugene L. Sykes, Mrs. Sykes’ late husband; and numerous solid gold Krugerrand coins from the 1980s in fabulous condition.

Mrs. Sykes was the daughter of a banker from Camden, Tenn., and she skipped a college education to start her own trucking business right out of high school. Her firm hauled chert for Southern companies. In the spring of 1942, while in Aberdeen on business, she met and fell in love with Eugene L. Sykes Jr.

By the summer of that year, the two were married and Mrs. Sykes became very active in the Aberdeen community. She also assisted in her husband’s varied business interests, helping him manage Sykes Plantation just outside of town and the Sykes Commission Company, a farm supply business. Mr. Sykes also sat on the Board of Directors of his father’s bank, The First National Bank of Aberdeen.

The Sykes made their home at the Old Homestead on Main Street in Aberdeen until his death in 1961. Mrs. Sykes remained at the Old Homestead, caring for her father-in-law until his passing in 1965. Looking to downsize after that, she found Dunlee, an antebellum cottage (and site of the March 27 auction). She continued to live at Dunlee until her recent death at the end of 2009.

For more information and to view auction lot images, visit For additional information, or to request a brochure, you may call Stevens Auction at 662-369-2200 e-mail

Photos courtesy Stevens Auction Company.


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