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Civil War

Fine furniture, Civil War relics at forefront of Case Antiques auction Jan. 26

Civil War
Small ‘Bible’ flags were often made by women for their menfolk to carry during the Civil War. This Shiloh-related flag is the only known example of the rare Polk’s Corps pattern. It belonged to Pvt. Duff Lewis of Tennessee. Estimate: $3,400-$3,800. Case Antiques image

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A William Edmondson sculpture, a coveted collection of Civil War material and a large selection of jewelry – fresh from Southern estates – are expected to heat up the Winter Case Antiques Auction, set for Saturday, Jan. 26. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

The 860-lot cataloged auction also features an exhibited collection of Southern pottery, paintings by listed American and European artists, and Chinese antiques, along with select pieces of art and porcelain deaccessioned by two Southern museums.

Civil War buffs are already buzzing about a large cache of Confederate weapons and accessories, including a rare Battle of Shiloh personal or “Bible” flag that originally belonged to S. Duff Lewis of Tennessee. Military historian Greg Biggs, who assisted with the seven-page catalog entry for the flag, notes that it is the first Polks Corp Pattern flag he has seen in 28 years of research.

There are also several valuable weapons from the estate of Jim Maconkey of Landrum, South Carolina, including an early Confederate Griswold .36 caliber revolver (serial number 133); a Morse breechloading .52 caliber carbine rifle; a Confederate blockade run 1862 Enfield Tower rifled musket; a cased Hyde & Goodrich marked Tranter revolver; and a D. Kernaghan (New Orleans) marked Tranter with Vicksburg marked holster.

Also from the Maconkey estate are belt buckles and plates, holsters and more than a dozen cartridge and cap boxes (some identified to particular soldiers). The category is further fortified by the weapons and ephemera collection of Benjamin Dysart III of Brentwood, Tennessee, composed of several Colt, Nimschke and Tranter revolvers, and ephemera including a CDV album containing images of multiple Confederate generals. Six autographed letters, signed by John Mosby (the Confederate “Gray Ghost”) are also offered, along with oil portraits of Confederate generals and bladed weapons such as a Griswold saber bayonet and a Nashville Plow Works sword.

Sculpture figures prominently in the auction’s fine art category. Most notable is Miss Lucy, a carved limestone depiction of a woman by William Edmondson, an outsider artist who in 1937 became the first African American to have a solo exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. The figure comes from the estate of a Nashville woman whose co-worker at Peabody College, Sidney Hirsch, is credited with helping introduce Edmondson to the New York art scene.

Civil War
‘Miss Lucy,’ a 15½-inch-tall carved limestone sculpture of a woman carrying purse and book, by William Edmondson (American/Tennessee, 1874-1951), is estimated at $70,000-$75,000. Case Antiques image

Sharing the sculpture spotlight in this sale are three bronze figures of ballet dancers including Rudolph Nureyev, all by Richard MacDonald (a former artist in residence with London’s Royal Ballet), and a surrealist bust by Sergio Bustamante.

The auction also features works from the estate of award-winning Tennessee sculptor, Olen Bryant. About a half dozen figures in wood and ceramic will be offered, along with part of the art collection amassed by Bryant and his partner, late Vanderbilt University art professor Thomas Brumbaugh, including a Jacob Epstein bronze sculpture of dancer Pola Nerenska

From the estate of Delle Brown, a longtime Nashville art and antique dealer, comes an exhibited Gilbert Gaul oil landscape titled Tennessee Farmyard, a Thomas Hill still life (below), and a China Trade oil painting.

Civil War
Best known for his Western landscapes, painter Thomas Hill (1829-1908) also painted some masterful still lifes. This oil on canvas features flowers and a tiny housefly (lower right). Estimate: $5,800-$6,400. Case Antiques image

The auction also features an exhibited view of Cape Ann by Charles Woodbury, a Hayley Lever dock scene, a large Louisiana bayou painting by Knute Heldner, three landscapes in oil and watercolor by Wolf Kahn, a collection of Texas landscapes including a bluebonnet scene by William Thrasher, and an Alaskan mountain landscape by Magnus Heurlin.

Bidders interested in gold, diamonds and other gemstones have more than 100 lots of fine jewelry from Tennessee estates from which to choose. Among the highlights are a 27-carat diamond line bracelet (comprised of 27 diamonds, each approximately 1 carat); a 44-carat H. Stern Brazilian aquamarine and diamond ring; a 29-carat heart-shaped aquamarine and diamond pendant, gold jewelry by Cartier, Tiffany and Signoretti.

Civil War
A 27-carat diamond bracelet, featuring 27 1-carat diamonds, is estimated at $30,000-$34,000. Case Antiques image

There are also nearly 100 lots of sterling and coin silver in the auction, including a Japanese .950 silver tea service and a heavy Mexican silver tea service.

Southern pottery is a staple at Case, and company president John Case says this auction features the most significant group of it the company has ever offered. Leading the lineup is a copper oxide and lead-glazed earthenware double-handled jar made by Christopher Alexander Haun (1821-1861), a Union-sympathizing potter who was hanged by the Confederate army for his role in burning a railroad bridge. The clearly signed jar, with elaborate tread stamp designs at each handle, is in remarkably good condition. Also featured is the only known extant Haun jug, and several pieces of East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia pottery, all from the collection of the late Brad Swanson of Abingdon, Virginia. A number of Swanson’s pots are illustrated in reference books on Southeastern pottery. Several were exhibited in the 2005 “Legacy in Clay” exhibit at the William King Regional Arts Center in Virginia, including several pieces of cobalt decorated stoneware, and interesting earthenware forms from the Cain, Mort, Vestal and Magee potteries of Virginia and Tennessee.

A rare pair of American Federal girandole mirrors with eagle crests stands out among the furniture offerings, along with a pair of signed French Empire fauteuils, a Federal desk attributed to Michael Allison of New York, and a Federal desk signed by Joseph Lyndall of Philadelphia and dated 1812.

Civil War
Furniture offerings range from Southern sugar chests to this pair of French Empire period armchairs, stamped ‘Coudurier.’ Estimate: $4,000-$4,500. Case Antiques image

Other standouts in the sale include a clock by Mallet, France that is topped with a bust of George Washington, a Tiffany Studios bronze Lily Pad mirror, a vibrant Gees Bend quilt and a prize-winning Cherokee basket by Eva Wolfe.

For more information or to consign objects for a future auction, call the gallery in Knoxville at 865-558-3033 or the company’s Nashville office at 615-812-6096 or email

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