Published: December 12, 2017
VENICE, FLA. – Clarence Leon Prickett, an antiques dealer who built a reputation for fine American furniture, in part by emulating the practices of the firm he admired most, Israel Sack, Inc, died at home on October 10. He was 91.
Prickett was born in Bristol, Penn., on July 1, 1926, to Julia and Leon Prickett. An only child, he attended Friends Select School in Philadelphia. He enlisted in the armed services in 1944, serving in the gunnery in the US Navy. He was present at the signing of Japan’s surrender in Tokyo Bay.
Upon returning home in 1946, he married his sweetheart, Laura Elizabeth Bachofer, who predeceased him in 2010. The couple had a daughter, Sandra, and two sons, Craig and Todd, who joined their father in the business he later founded, C.L. Prickett Antiques.
After the war, Prickett worked as an agent and staff manager for Prudential Insurance Company until 1962, when he purchased a farm with an operating antiques shop in Yardley, Penn. Over the next 45 years, Prickett became a leading authority on fine Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Century American furniture and related decorative arts, with a special fondness for the best Queen Anne, Chippendale and Hepplewhite examples. C.L. Prickett Antiques made international news when in 2006 the firm purchased, on behalf of a client, Charles Willson Peale’s 1779 painting “George Washington at Princeton” for a record $21.3 million at Christie’s.
“His first year in the antiques business he made more money than in his best year selling life insurance. As adults, my siblings and I marveled at the courage it took to make a career change like that in his mid-30s with a wife and small children,” Craig said.
Of his father’s success, he added, “He really enjoyed people. He had a way of selling that was no pressure. He learned in the insurance business to first sell yourself, that people had to like and trust you. He really was one of the nicest gentlemen.”
After retiring to Venice in 2006, Prickett devoted himself to his other love, tennis. He won five gold medals at the Pennsylvania Senior Games and in 2007 was inducted into Venice’s Plantation Tennis Hall of Fame.
After his wife’s passing, Prickett met Barbara Arnold, a widow, with whom he shared a special companionship. In addition to his sons and their spouses, Prickett is survived by nine grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.
Services were October 18 at Washington Crossing United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania. Donations in his name may be made to the Lower Makefield Historical Society (Laura E. Prickett Memorial Lecture Series), PO Box 228, Yardley PA 19067.
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