Published: December 7, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Schultz Auctioneers
CLARENCE, N.Y.- Tucked into the 1,333-lot Thanksgiving Antique Auction at Schultz Auctioneers, held two consecutive days after the American holiday, was a feast enough to warm bidders’ bellies anew. The material was varied, ranging from a 1926 Model T Coupe to an 18K Cartier royal gift, from AFC championship rings to an 11½-foot handcrafted model ship. The best floated to the top, but there was plenty to chew on at modest prices.
Auctioneer Kelly Schultz said his firm has been running a Thanksgiving sale for about 40 years. He had about 75 masked people in the gallery for the auction, which has become a tradition in itself for some bidders.
A Cartier 18K gold cigarette box with inscription from Edward, the Prince of Wales, sold for $23,600. The box was set with sapphires and featured the royal crest. To the inside lid, an inscription reads “‘We will never forget a great friendship-‘ 5-xii-36 to 3-vi-37” and signed beneath. Schultz said the box was consigned from the granddaughter of Herman Rogers, whose initials appear monogrammed on its fitted leather case. According to writer Andrew Morton, who illustrated the box in his titles Wallis In Love and 17 Carnations, Herman Rogers was an advisor and de facto private secretary for Edward and Wallis Simpson. The box is a memento from the most notorious moment of Edward’s royal life. Upon his father’s death in 1936, the Prince of Wales became Edward VIII, the King of the United Kingdom, though it would not last long. Months after his ascension, he proposed to Wallis Simpson, an American who had divorced her first husband and was in the midst of seeking a divorce from her second. The prime ministers opposed the marriage, as did the Church of England, to which Edward served as the titular head. Edward ultimately chose love over power, abdicating the crown after 326 days and earning the title of the shortest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. After the abdication, Edward was titled the Duke of Windsor and when he eventually married Simpson, she became the Duchess. They remained married their entire lives.
In a letter dated from August 2021, the author Andrew Morton wrote, “Herman was very close to Wallis Simpson during the abdication crisis. She stayed at his home in the south of France. He slept in the room next to hers for several months. There is a suggestion, not a certainty, that she offered to get pregnant by Herman Rogers and everyone would think that the Duke of Windsor was the father. What is not in doubt is that Herman Rogers was a key figure in the life of Wallis Simpson, first when she went to China and then before, during and after the abdication. He became a key figure in the life of the Duke of Windsor and it was his advice and guidance that helped the couple through the constitutional trauma. The gold cigarette case is a modest thank you for the considerable work Herman Rogers undertook on behalf of the ducal couple.”
Selling alongside it was a nearly identically designed compact in 18K gold and sapphires, but without inscription or royal crest, that was consigned from the same granddaughter. It sold for $17,100. Schultz said that the cigarette box and compact were his and hers gifts, given to Rogers and his wife at the same time.
The buyer was an American collector, Schultz said. About ten years ago, the auctioneer sold a silver box with inscription that Prince Edward gave to a family who allowed him to use their yacht – the same buyer bagged that one, too.
Sports collectors were sated by three AFC Championship rings, each in 10K gold and embellished with diamonds, given to a member of the Buffalo Bills organization for its 1991,
1992 and 1993 seasons. The rings were marked “Staff” and “Buechi” – a Kathy Buechi is listed as the secretary/assistant of the team’s marketing and sales department in the 1991 season. They were offered individually and all sold to a Buffalo-area sports collector for a combined $8,968.
A collection of Roycroft goods came from the estate of Alburn Sleeper, who served as one of the original members, a president and longtime board member of the Roycrofters At Large Association. At age 18, Sleeper asked Roycroft metalsmith Walter Jennings to teach him the art. “Mr Jennings gave Al a hammer, told him to make his own tools, taught him some of the classic Roycroft flowers and designs and the rest is beautiful history,” his obituary reads. “Mr. Sleeper, ‘The Aurora Silversmith’ was a teacher of metal work technique, a diplomat for the arts and a guardian of the Roycroft Arts and its history. Al created his art for over sixty-five years, bringing smiles to faces all around the world.” Selling from Sleeper’s collection were two stamped Roycroft dining chairs with leather seats that sold individually for $2,124 and $1,652. A pair of Roycroft strapwork candlesticks converted to lamps sold for $1,888, while a box of miscellany, including wallpaper, leather fragments and bindings sold for $1,770. Another group lot of miscellaneous copper bowls, candlesticks and ladles, including some by Walter Jennings and the Craftsmen Studios, would take $3,245.
Civil War effects were provided by a militaria collector more interested in other eras. At $3,540 was a lot of two early canteens, one marked for South Carolina cavalry surgeon Paul Jolly. It was unknown whether a Civil War-era boxed surgeons kit related to Jolly, though the pieces in the fitted case and bone handles sold comparably at $2,832. A human skull came from the same collection and it sold for $2,596. Written around the forehead on the bone were inscriptions that read “Ed cut him in pieces with his bar. Ed took the gold fake teeth. Noonie got the ashtray, Semperfi.”
From another local home was a Civil War letter dated August 2, 1864, sent from a chaplain to the family of a deceased soldier. It sold for $1,416. “The chaplain described the whole thing,” Schultz said. “He said, ‘At least you don’t have to worry about him suffering, the lead ball hit him square in the head and killed him instantly.’ I thought that was odd to send that to the parents, but alright!”
Militaria continued with group lots of military patches from a woman whose husband had once collected them, but they had since been resigned to the attic. “They turned out to be some good patches,” Schultz said. “The gentleman who bought them told his bidder to keep the paddle up and don’t put it down.” Split into lots of four albums a piece, each brought $4,130, $2,360, $2,360, $1,888 and $1,770.
It’s not often that an 11½-foot ship model comes to sale – there certainly aren’t many that exist in this size – but a handcrafted example after the SS Greater Buffalo went on to bring $6,490. It’s perhaps not surprising that the model is that large, the SS Greater Buffalo, together with its sister ship, the Greater Detroit, were two of the largest Great Lakes side-wheeled excursion steamers ever built. The Greater Buffalo was so large that it was converted into an aircraft carrier in World War II and renamed the USS Sable. George H.W. Bush and thousands of other pilots would train for takeoffs and landings on the Sable. After the war, she was sold for scrap but the model remains. Schultz said that at one point it had been on display in a Buffalo waterfront museum and he said the new buyer may again donate it for exhibition.
Following the sale, Schultz related that he was pleased with the material he offered. “We’re seeing more instances where the kids don’t want any of it,” he said. “You used to go into houses and it was stripped down, now you go in and the estate is there in its entirety.”
All prices reported include buyer’s premium. For information, www.schultzauctioneers.net or 716-407-3125.
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