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"New" Farmer Auctions Holds Inaugural Catalog Sale

Walter C. Newman | September 28th, 2013

This seven-piece sterling silver tea service is marked “Tiffany & Co./ Makers/ Sterling Silver/ 925-1000/ M.” The set includes a kettle on warming stand, coffeepot, teapot, covered sugar, creamer, an open waste bowl, and tray. The kettle, coffeepot, and teapot are fitted with pear wood handles. The tray measures 26½" in overall length. The kettle on stand is 13½" high. The set is monogrammed, and the total silver weight is over 274 troy ounces. The set sold to an Internet buyer for $8260 (est. $6000/8000).

These two Arts and Crafts-style stained-glass panels date from the early 20th century. Each has been installed in a later wooden frame and has hardware for hanging. The larger of the panels measures 40" x 19". Both pieces show evidence of having had some repair to the lead partitions and intersections. The pair brought $518 (est. $200/400).

One of the top performers in the Farmer sale was this bronze statue depicting an embrace between a decorated military officer and a woman. The figures, along with a spirited horse, are mounted on a cast naturalistic design base. The piece measures 13" high x 12" long x 7" deep and exhibits a Cyrillic signature and foundry mark. It probably dates from the early 20th century. The bronze enjoyed spirited bidding and sold to the phone for $6325 (est. $500/800).

Farmer Auctions, Salem, Virginia

Photos courtesy Farmer Auctions

It has been one year since Ken Farmer and Paul Quinn announced that they were aligning their auction energies into a single regional entity. Quinn & Farmer Auctions LLC is, for lack of a better term, an affiliation of the interests of its two founders. Together, the firms now cut an integrated swath that runs from the Washington, D.C., beltway, southwest through Charlottesville, and on to Salem, Virginia.

The Salem location is the latest piece to be moved on the game board. In June, Will Farmer, Ken’s son, applied for and received zoning approval for relocating and operating Farmer Auctions. Ken Farmer Auctions and Appraisals, LLC has moved from its longtime Radford, Virginia, location, and its name is changed to Farmer Auctions.

The new space is large and well appointed. There is ample display area, seating, and secure storage. The facility is located in an office park just off one of the major thoroughfares connecting Salem with its next-door neighbor, Roanoke, Virginia.

Farmer Auctions’ inaugural catalog sale was held September 28. The sale was relatively small, with just 310 lots offered, and 90 percent sold. The high lot of the sale was a turn-of-the-19th/20th-century tall-case clock, with music box works. The clock was described as being in the Beaux-Arts/Colonial Revival style and featured two Regina disc movements. The clock brought $29,900 against a presale estimate of $8000/12,000. (All prices quoted include the buyer’s premium.)

A dozen lots of sterling silver items crossed the block. Recently, regardless of its age or style, most silver seems to be selling for its scrap value. With the exception of three lots, described in the photos, that was the case at the Farmer sale as well.

A Russian cast bronze was something of a pleasant surprise. The piece depicts a welcome or farewell embrace between a military officer and a woman. The piece displayed Cyrillic signature and foundry marks. There were several phone bidders, some of whom represented international interests. The bronze sold to one of the phones for $6325, leaving its $500/800 presale estimate in the dust.

For the most part, this inaugural sale moved ahead with little fanfare or drama. But there is one very encouraging element that must not be overlooked. That is the auctioneer/manager himself, Will Farmer. We are constantly speculating on the fate of the antiques business. “Where are the young collectors?” is a constant refrain. Well, here is a young auctioneer who seems to have a plan. While the “new” Farmer Auctions may have strong ties to the Farmer/Quinn lineage, this endeavor is definitely Will Farmer’s production. He and his young, growing family have moved to Salem, and he is definitely in command of the enterprise. It is difficult to describe, but there was a noticeable energy at this sale. Those young collectors that everyone seems to be hunting are very likely to relate to young professionals like Will Farmer. That is a promising outlook. Ken Farmer sat down beside me toward the end of the sale. He said, “I am so proud of Will. He put this together himself.” Ken and Will should both be proud.

For additional information, contact Farmer Auctions at (540) 384-0100. The new Web site is in production, but information is still available at (

The high lot of the Farmer sale was this tall-case clock with music box works. The clock dates from the early 20th century. The case stands 9' in overall height and is described in the catalog as being in the Colonial Revival/Beaux Arts style. The case features a paneled dome with a tall turned finial and is decorated with many Gothic-like features. Neither the clockworks nor the case is marked as to the maker. The case is fixed with two vertically mounted disc music box works by the Regina Music Box Company, Rahway, New Jersey. The works are mounted at a slight angle, allowing two overlapping discs to be fitted in place at the same time. There are separate winding cranks that extend from the case. The clock is in unknown working order, but the music boxes work very well. Thirty-five discs are included with the piece. A collector, bidding on the phone, won the clock for $29,900 (est. $8000/12,000).

The photo of this urn-form lamp is not distorted. The lamp lists a bit to the right. The piece is Royal Vienna style and is marked with a blue beehive mark along with “Daphne/ 27778.” The urn features a hand-painted image of a partially nude woman on one side and a fully clothed torso image of a different woman on the other. The lamp is raised on a stepped square pedestal base with gilt naturalistic scenes and a Greek key border design. The lamp stands 15" in overall height. An Internet buyer purchased this lamp for $978 (est. $200/300).

When auctioneer Steve Culver introduced this lot, he suggested that if  “you ever take up painting, paint pictures of Venice. They always seem to do well.” This oil on illustration board is by Marc Aldine (French, 1870-1956). The image is a Venetian canal scene with gondolas and several buildings. The piece measures 10½" x 13½" (sight size) and is presented in what appears to be its original frame. It sold to an Internet buyer for $1150 (est. $400/600).

This assembled server and cupboard combination consists of a circa 1840 Sheraton-style one-drawer server, with a flat-back cupboard resting atop. Both pieces are constructed of walnut. The server has turned legs, and the drawer is dovetailed. The cupboard features a simple beveled cornice and blind paneled doors that open to reveal three shelves. The overall dimensions of this two-piece unit are 70" x 38" x 22". The country piece sold to an absentee bidder for $1035 (est. $300/400).

These sterling candelabra are by Gorham, circa 1920. The sticks feature five sockets raised on a central column with a fluted design base and acanthus leaves and impressed panels above. The arms have scroll, floral, and angular geometric design elements. The candelabra stand 17" in overall height and 15½" across the arms. This pair of candelabra sold to the phone for $8050 (est. $3000/5000).

Originally published in the December 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest

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