Like the old days: Estate of local historian highlights Ohio auction

EAST CANTON, Ohio — It’s every antique collector’s fantasy: Finding that old log cabin back in the hills that’s jam-packed with everything it’s contained since day one.

And on June 15 it was a dream come true for about 175 bidders who attended the auction of the estate of the late Bill Duffie in the rolling Stark County farmlands south of the sleepy village of East Canton.

From the moment auctiongoers stepped onto the property with its pioneer log farmhouse, the early brick Hickory Grove Schoolhouse which served as Duffie’s residence, and the other farm outbuildings, they knew they were seeing something special.

Duffie, a local historian who had spent his life collecting antiques, helping restore old buildings, and being actively involved with Osnaburg Township Historical Society, had literally packed the buildings with antiques.

Auctioneer Jim Kiko said Duffie had bought the property with the old schoolhouse and cabin in 1949 and set about restoring them. He said Duffie was a charter member of the Osnaburg Township Historical Society that was started in the early 1970s, and had been instrumental in restoring the Warner Inn along the Lincoln Highway (U.S. Route 30) in East Canton.

Kiko said Duffie loved early woven coverlets, woodworking tools and stoneware items, and did most of his buying from houses and farms in the immediate area.

“He wasn’t a flamboyant character,” said Kiko in starting the auction. “He worked in the background, but he was always there if you needed him.”

For the auction, Duffie’s huge accumulation was laid out in rows and heaps and piles by Kiko’s staff, which had the yeoman’s task of selling off the massive number of items during the unseasonably hot afternoon.
Facing an array of merchandise that was nothing short of staggering, Kiko’s huge auction crew had its work cut out, and got the job done by grouping together large piles of items, and selling few things individually.
Also, Kiko kept at least two auction rings going throughout the day, sending collectors scurrying back and forth at breakneck speed, trying not to miss items as they were pulled from hidden recesses everywhere and quickly gaveled down.

The result was one of the best treasure troves of bargains both dealers and collectors could remember seeing in a long while.

By the end of the sale nearly six hours later, it was difficult to tell which was the more exhausted group – the Kiko crew or the dealers, many of whom went home with vehicles loaded with fabulous buys they might never encounter again.

The highlight of the collection was Duffie’s assemblage of 46 woven coverlets — both jacquard and double-weave geometrics — which were strung on a clothesline across the middle of the yard. The coverlets, in conditions which ranged from excellent to fair, garnered a lot of attention both because they were so colorful, and collectors wanted to read the corner block information.

But when it came to bidding, prices were decidedly soft, as was the case for pieces across the board.
The highest-priced coverlet in the sale was an 1851 Osnaburg Township, Stark County, example in navy and cream with a schoolhouse border. It was signed J. Singer and brought $600, about half what auctioneer George Kiko predicted it would be gaveled down for. The piece was purchased by the Osnaburg Township Historical Society with funds donated from the Duffie auction.

A red and white 1881 jacquard coverlet signed Canton made a winning bid of $375, while a Daniel Bordner coverlet from Millersburg, Berks County, Pa., in red, cream and gold, sold for $275.

A Mount Joy, Lancaster County, Pa., coverlet woven in the “latest stile” by Jacob Keener made a winning bid of $125; a gold, red, blue and cream example by Henry Gabriel of Allentown, Pa., with large eagles sold for $125, while an 1857 multi-color Johnsville, Morrow County, coverlet sold for $225, the same price paid for a navy, red, aqua and tan 1846 coverlet signed H. Gabriel in Millersburg, Lee High Co., Pa.

An 1849 navy and cream coverlet with bird motif sold for $275, the same price paid for an unsigned red, navy and cream coverlet dated 1851. An 1847 “Bomberg” coverlet in navy, red, cream and aqua went for $300, while an 1846 gold, red, navy and white coverlet marked Andrea Kump, Damask Coverlet Manufacturer, Hanover, York Co., sold for $200.

A navy and cream example from Cadiz brought $200, while an 1839 Charles Meily, Wayne County (Ohio), example in red, cream and blue sold for $100, and an 1841 example marked Wove by G.S. for L. Somers with birds and flowers went for $175.

Many of the unsigned geometrics with wear sold between $25 and $60, while the better examples brought generally in the $150 to $200 range.

A sampling of other items that were gaveled down during the day-long session included: lot of three early broad axes for $95; three grindstones, $40, $40 and $30; two early cast-iron fireplace salamanders, $25; two ox yokes, one in blue paint, $30 each; primitive quilt frame signed H. Heiziger 1933, $5; nice barrel churn on stand, $125; large early frame saw with blacksmith-forged wing nut, $40; early basket containing several decorated and dated flax hatchels, $55; five-tine wooden hay fork, $20; huge wooden cheese press, $15; floor-standing yarn swift, $35; nice early flax brake, $40; 2 nice wool-spinning wheels, $10 and $15; two black walnut one-drawer stands, $95 and $100; shaving horse (schnitzelbank) in old red paint, $40; handmade buggy jack, $15; schoolmasters-style lift-top desk, $300; two-door dry sink in worn salmon paint, $325; Victorian pump-type parlor organ, $25; two-piece oak “noodle”/pantry cupboard with galvanized sink area, $1,800; 1896 Stark County Atlas, $30; rope bed with bell-shaped post turnings, $125, and buck saw, $22.

Kiko auctions have a 3 percent buyer’s premium on all sales, with a 3 percent discount for cash.