Mrs. McCarthy’s estate contains antique furnishings and other items from the Memphis, Tenn., home of Margaret Polk, McCarthy’s mother-in-law’
Through her father, Oscar B. Polk, Ms. Polk was also related to James Knox Polk, the 11th president of the United States. But her family did pretty well, too, as Oscar B. Polk was a banker, real estate developer, cotton broker and one of the largest landowners in Mississippi and Arkansas, where he presided over thousands of acres of cotton land, as his father did before him.
Mr. Polk built a stately, three-story Queen Anne home in Memphis and had it filled with furnishings custom-made especially for him by the R.J. Horner Company of New York, the revered 19th century furniture maker. Many of these same one-of-a-kind Horner pieces will be featured in the auction. Each piece was lovingly hand-crafted by Horner artisans from 1890-93.
The sale will not be limited to furniture pieces. Also sold will be hundreds of outstanding antiques, to include china, silver, rugs, light fixtures, works of art and many other items. One lot certain to attract keen bidder interest is a palace-size, four-piece burl walnut half tester Aesthetic Movement bedroom suite with a white marble top (10 feet 7 inches tall). It is truly magnificent.
The auction's main event promises to be the items from the McCarthy estate and, more specifically, the Horner pieces. Previews for the auction will be held on Friday, March 16, from 10-7, and on Saturday, March 17 (the date of sale) from 8 a.m. until the start time of 10 a.m.
The name Horner will be chanted frequently throughout the auction. Some expected top lots will include an oak parlor suite with beautifully detailed carved heads in the arms, boasting the original finish; and a mahogany three-door bookcase with Atlas statue sides and curved glass on the center door (60 inches tall by 84 inches wide by 20 inches deep, in all original condition).
Other Horner pieces will feature a mahogany full griffin slant front desk with exceptional carvings and a hidden drawer; a mahogany library table with full body standing Atlas legs, carved all around on a 6-inch skirt, in all original condition; and a mahogany full standing griffin sofa with deep carved back and the griffins standing 31 inches tall, also in all original condition.
Also by Horner will be a heavily carved oak sideboard with winged griffin crown and china cabinet top in the original finish, 89 inches tall; a mahogany bookcase in the original finish with standing ladies on each side and ladies’ faces on the feet, in untouched original shape; and a mahogany library table with two drawers, a heavily carved band around the top and claw feet.
Rounding out the best of the Horner offerings are a mahogany heavily carved high-back bed, with faces carved in the crown (82 inches tall); a mahogany heavily carved dresser that matches the previously described bed; an oak dining room table with full body griffins and four leaves; and a great mahogany curved glass china cabinet with claw feet and carved column front.
Other furniture pieces will include a carved mahogany settee, attributed to J. & J.W. Meeks (circa 1850); a primitive cherry corner cupboard with column front (circa 1820); and a gold gilded Italian Victorian center table with black and gold marble (circa 1860).
Also sold will be a mahogany banquet table with twist corner legs, a giant center leg, beautiful carving and 11 leaves in the original storage crate (16 feet long); a flame mahogany Federal sideboard with white marble insert top and acanthus carved feet (circa 1830); a lovely mahogany pillar-and-scroll clock with painted scene on the glass door, and original weights and winder (circa 1820); and a brass hanging gasolier with etched shades (6 gas, 6 electric, ca. 1880).
Stevens Auction Company’s next big auction after this will be the living of estate of Mrs. Nell Howell of Aberdeen, Miss., to be sold on Saturday, April 21, at 10 a.m., at Mrs. Howell’s home on South Franklin Street in Aberdeen. The home, built in 1895 on “Silk Stocking Row,” contains fine Victorian, Empire and Federal furniture, china, sterling silver, old clocks, original works of art, hand-made Persian rugs and hundreds of rare collectibles. All of it will be sold.
The sale of Mrs. Howell’s home is being managed by Marsha Ballard, a broker with Southern Realty & Management Company. The residence will be available for showing in mid-March. For more information on the sale of the home, call Ms. Ballard at (662) 369-7061. An open house preview will be held Friday, April 20, from 10-7, and April 21 (date of sale) at 8 a.m.
Stevens Auction Company is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign a single item, an estate or a collection, you may call them directly, at (662) 369-2200; or, you can e-mail them at stevensauction@
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Ken Hall writes pre-sale and post-sale press releases for auction houses, for a fee. He writes, submits and tracks stories for clients. Submissions are published in trade magazines, posted on industry websites and appear in local newspapers.