“Al and Ruth operated their antiques business here in town until around 2000, when poor health started to get the best of him,” said Dolores Meissner of Meissner’s Auction Service, the New Lebanon-based firm conducting the auction. “They were fixtures at the Brimfield (Mass.) and Kurtztown (Pa) shows. Al would always set up at Brimfield, no matter how poorly he felt.”
Between 450-500 lots will be offered in a wide variety of categories, to include Shaker furniture, early primitives, antique lamps and lighting, a smoke bell collection, a perfume bottles collection, a shaving mugs collection, historical blue transfer ware, early toys, figural humidors and more. There will be no Internet bidding in the sale but phone and absentee bids will be taken.
From 1980-2000, the Cassavants operated the Tryon House Antique Shop out of their historic, circa-1760s home in New Lebanon. The contents of the home, to include their many collections, will be in the April 28 auction. The couple’s long love affair with Shaker furniture is legendary; they were friends with the Mt. Lebanon, Canterbury and Sabbathday Lake Shakers.
Al Cassavant was born April 13, 1920. He was a World War II Navy combat veteran, having served on the destroyer USS Laws. He married Ruth prior to the war’s outbreak, on May 8, 1940. After his honorable discharge, he went to work for General Electric, in Naval Ordnance. He was an avid coin collector in the 1940s and ‘50s (note: there will be no coins in this auction).
The Cassavants’ fascination with the Shaker community began in the 1940s. When the Mt. Lebanon Shaker Village dissolved during that period, they acquired several furniture pieces that were made there. In the 1950s, they would make trips to the Canterbury, N.H., and Lebanon Hancock Shaker villages, where they became close friends with some of the Shaker Sisters there.
In the early 1970s, Al and Ruth made their home available to the Shaker Sisters when they were away, attending a ceremony for the First Day of Issue for the U.S. Postal Service Shaker envelope. Several items in the sale were gifts, given to the Cassavants by Shaker Sisters Bertha Lindsey and Miriam Wall of Canterbury, N.H., to include boards from the Shaker barn.
In the early 1960s, Mr. Cassavant began a new collection – early antique bottles. He loved to go out bottle digging, and was a member of the Berkshire Antique Bottle Association. By the 1970s he and Ruth had branched out into other areas of antique collecting, and they opened a shop, called Cottage Antiques, located at Nopper’s Antique Center in New Lebanon.
In March 1980, Al retired from General Electric, as manager of Naval Ordnance. It was around that time he and Ruth purchased their four-bedroom Colonial-era home. They moved Cottage Antiques into the home and re-named it Tryon House Antiques. They continued to operate the business there for 20 years. It was only forced to shut down due to Al’s poor health.
A preview will be held on auction day, from 9 a.m. until the first gavel comes down at 11 a.m. Everything will be sold as-is, where-is, and all sales are final (no returns allowed). Terms are cash, check and Visa and Master Cards. All purchases will be subject to a 14 percent buyer’s premium (2 percent discount for cash or check). Refreshments will be served. Delivery available.
New Lebanon is located in northeastern New York, not far from Albany and Interstate 90, and just west of Pittsfield, Mass. The Vermont border is also close by. Meissner’s Auction Service is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign an item, an estate or a collection, you may call them at (518) 766-5002; or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Meissner’s Auction Service and the Saturday, April 28 on-site Albert Cassavant estate auction, please log on to www.meissnersauction.com.
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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.