Sauls lightens his load with Burley auction

By Mark F. Moran – For Antique Trader

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas — John Sauls knew it was time to clear the decks when people would ask him about a specific antique he once had for sale, and he’d answer with a laugh: “I don’t know where it is!” Sauls had a 12,000-square-foot warehouse that was so packed he couldn’t find anything. In his words, “It was time to lighten the load.”

Sauls, owner of the Marburger Farm Antique Show in Round Top, Texas, lightened his load considerably on June 24 with the help of Burley Auction Group. “I’m thrilled with the results,” Sauls said when reached by Antique Trader three days after the sale. “Like any auction, some things went high, some went low. But I just look at the bottom line, and I’m thrilled.”

Highlights of the sale included a blanket chest from Jefferson, Texas, that made $4,950 (all prices quoted include 10 percent buyer’s premium). It had bracket feet, its original blue-painted finish and mitered corners on the lid. It was hand planed with mortise-and-tenon construction throughout, and pegged, with chamfered panels. It was signed on inside of the lid Jefferson, Marion County, Texas. 1850. There was minor restoration to the rear bracket feet. “They don’t come any better than this,” auctioneer Rob Burley said of the trunk that measured 46 1/4 inches by 26 1/4 inches by 21 1/2 inches.

“My best pieces of black Americana just took off,” said Sauls while reviewing the numbers. Most memorable was a promotional item from a Dallas jeweler that showed a black boy in a straw hat eating a wedge of watermelon while perched on a bale of cotton. Probably of German origin and in mint condition, it still retained it original label, which showed it was a premium from Arthur A. Everts Jewelers in Dallas. Sauls called the 4-inch-high piece “a trusted friend and member of my household for the past 25 years.” It sold for $2,090.

Estimated at $600-$800, a stoneware jug advertising the Koehl Brothers Saloon in Wharton, Texas, sold for an amazing $4,840. The one-quart jug had a clear but slightly crooked cobalt stenciled label and stood 7 1/2 inches tall. A circa 1860 stoneware jar with advertising for a Galveston firm, 14 inches tall, sold for $4,620 despite damage and significant restoration.

An imposing plantation desk in long-leaf heart pine sold for $5,610 and was headed back east … to Louisiana. It is believed to have been made for a sugar plantation, and contains a hidden drawer.

A wildly decorated two-piece stoneware water cooler ignited a bidding war on the auction floor and over the Internet before selling to the floor bidder for $4,620. The custom-made piece, of Ohio origin and possibly a wedding gift, was marked, L.D. Stoneburner and Laura Stoneburner – April 15, 1900.

And Sauls hasn’t completely cleared out that 12,000-square-foot warehouse. His goal? “I want to hear my footsteps echo in there,” he said. A second sale, also to be conducted by Burley Auction Group, was set for July 22. For more information, call 830-237-3440 or log on to



Special discount prices on great books, digital downloads, price guides & reference books for every hobby

Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles 2011 Price Guide

Antique Trader Facebook PageMeet and share with other antiques collectors, dealers and auctioneers on Antique Trader’s Facebook page

Antique Trader Twitter ProfileGet special discounts and breaking news alerts on Antique Trader’s Twitter feed!

Browse (or place your own) FREE online classified ads

Sign up for your FREE email newsletters

For more trade news, auction reports, research and expert columnists, get a year of Antique Trader magazine for the special online price of just $24.98!

Antiques Auction Houses