Samplers, Sevres and Chippendale lead Ken’s New Year’s Day

KINGSTON, Ga. – For a town so small it doesn’t even have a traffic light, Kingston was jumping on New Year’s Day, thanks to a lively auction held by Ken’s Antiques & Auction. About 300 people (half the town’s population) packed the showroom to bid on more than 650 lots in a wide array of categories. Top lots included 18 historic samplers, a Sevres urn and a Chippendale highboy.

Highlights from the auction follow. Prices quoted do not include a 10% buyer’s premium. The day’s top lot was a period Chippendale highboy, beautifully crafted sometime between 1790 and 1810 and featuring all original boards and hardware. Sevres urn AT 2-13.jpgThe 80” tall piece, nicely carved and with ball-and-claw feet, went for $4,000, but did have a downside – it had been refinished.

Hand-painted Sevres urn, circa 1890s, 23 inches tall, signed on top cap and base ($3,750)

Just behind the highboy, at $3,750, was a gorgeous Sevres urn, produced around the 1890s by the renowned porcelain factory (founded in Vincennes in 1738 and moved to Sevres in 1756). The hand-painted urn stood 23” tall and was signed on the top cap and base. The courtyard scenes hand-painted onto the piece were representative of the high-quality gilded wares associated with Sevres.

As nice as those two items were, they were not the main reason for the large turnout. Most of the crowd had come to view and bid on the 18 historic samplers that were given much attention in the press leading up to sale day. Most were from a single Boston area family and were dated 1758-1866. Val-Kill chest AT 2-13.jpgThe consignor was an Atlanta area-based antiques dealer who bought 13 of the 18 as a group.

Pine, 5-drawer, 2-over-3 Val-Kill chest, once owned by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt ($500).

The top selling sampler was one done in 1801 by Sarah Crofs, just 11 years old at the time. It sold for $3,000. All samplers were stitched by young girls of the time, some as young as five. It was common for girls whose parents could afford it to be sent to seminaries, to learn how to sew. They practiced by making samplers — many featuring the alphabet, numbers, poems and folk art depictions.

A Val-Kill chest that sold to an enterprising buyer for $500, was promptly posted on eBay, where it resold for $4,925. Val-Kill is the furniture associated with President Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor. Their idea to start a small factory in upstate New York, not far from Hyde Park in the 1920s, resulted in Val-Kill Industries. The simple, well-made pieces that came out of the Val-Kill factory were copies of early American furniture, and they are highly sought after today by collectors. 1758 sampler AT 2-13.jpgThe plant thrived from 1926-1935, but eventually succumbed to the Great Depression. The example sold – a pine, 5-drawer, 2-over-3 chest – had a newspaper article taped to the inside from 1936, telling how Mrs. Roosevelt acquired it.

Historic sampler, dated 1758, the oldest of 18 samplers sold in the auction ($1,700)

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