Published: May 7, 2019
On January 31, the antiques world lost one of our true characters, Henry “Hank” Hornblower III. Hank was the scion of an accomplished New England family with American roots dating back to the Mayflower. Raised with a silver spoon, Hank nonetheless joined the Marines and saw two tours of duty in Vietnam. Gifted with a photographic memory and aided by a voracious appetite for reading American military history, Hank set out after his service to our county to earn a living picking shops, going on house calls, attending auctions and visiting collectors. A hard scrapple picker behind the wheel of his Volvo station wagon, Hank had an old school approach which served him well.
I met Hank in 1988, and his influence in my life thereafter was very special. Professionally, his tenacity at looking closely across all disciplines to find a way to make a deal every day was inspiring. While Hank kept his cards close to his vest in business, he was never at a loss for words and always brought his sense of humor to every situation. His unannounced visits to my gallery and house over the years were filled with the best shop talk, gossip, jokes and laughter that anyone could ask for.
Palling around with Hank was joyous. On the house calls or appraisals we would perform together, Hank would immediately find common ground with the client, and the conversation would be off and running. One time, on an afternoon appraisal in Marblehead, I was done with my section of the appraisal, though Hank was still deep in conversation with the client. In need of a pick-me-up coffee or a nap, I returned to an upstairs bedroom and took a 20 minute power nap, only to stroll back downstairs to hear Hank and the client still deep in their conversation. In discussing the amount to bill an appraisal client, Hank’s input was always based on how hospitable the client was. A conversational client who offered good coffee and food fared well. By Hank’s reckoning, clients who offered neither had to pay for their lack of manners.
Hank was a devoted friend who never missed an opportunity to ask about my family. He would find fun, offbeat gifts that he gathered from house calls or flea markets and send amusing postcards from afar as he traveled. Dining with Hank was the best! In the relaxed setting of a restaurant, Hank’s life lessons and hysterical stories would fill a meal and leave me richer for the experience.
Hank leaves his lovely wife, Marion, and two fantastic sons, Richard and Henry. Godspeed and Semper Fi to one of the good guys!
—Submitted by Michael Grogan
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5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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