Spectacular R. J. Horner three-door mahogany bookcase fetches $22,425 at Stevens Auction, March 17 A spectacular, all-original three-door mahogany bookcase, crafted around 1890 by R. J. Horner, sold for $22,425 at a sale of the living estate of Brenda McCarthy, held March 17 by Stevens Auction.
News-Antique.com - Mar 23,2012 - (ABERDEEN, Miss.) – A spectacular, all-original three-door mahogany bookcase, beautifully crafted around 1890 by the renowned American furniture maker R. J. Horner, sold for $22,425 at a sale of the living estate of Brenda McCarthy of Tupelo, Miss. The event was held March 17 by Stevens Auction Company, at the firm’s gallery facility located in Aberdeen, Miss.
The like-new bookcase boasted Atlas statue sides and curved glass on the center door. It was monumental in size – 5 feet tall and 84 inches wide. Many top sellers of the 275 lots that crossed the block carried the Horner name. His workshop on West 23rd Street in New York City produced some of the most beautiful -- and most highly prized -- furniture pieces of the period.
Mrs. McCarthy’s estate contained antique furnishings and other items from the Memphis, Tenn., home of Margaret Polk, McCarthy’s mother-in-law’s sister. Ms. Polk was the fiancée of Capt. Robert K. Morgan, a pilot in the legendary B-17F Flying Fortress. His plane, the Memphis Belle, was so-named because he liked Southern belles, and Margaret Polk was a Southern belle.
Through her father, Oscar B. Polk, Ms. Polk was related to James Knox Polk, the 11th president of the United States. But her family did pretty well, too, as Oscar B. Polk was a banker, real estate developer, cotton broker and one of the largest landowners in Mississippi and Arkansas, where he presided over thousands of acres of cotton land, as his father did before him.
Mr. Polk built a stately, three-story Queen Anne home in Memphis and had it filled with furnishings custom-made especially for him by the R.J. Horner Company. Each piece was lovingly hand-crafted by Horner artisans from 1890-93. These pieces, plus many other furniture items and decorative accessories, were painstakingly transported to Aberdeen for the auction.
“It was a short sale, actually. We started at 10 a.m. and it was all over by three in the afternoon,” said Dwight Stevens of Stevens Auction Company. “We didn’t have a great number of lots, but what we did sell was big-ticket, bringing nice prices.” He added about 150 people attended the auction in person, and phone bidding was brisk. Fully half the lots drew phone bids.
Following are additional highlights from the sale. All prices quoted include a 15 percent buyer’s premium.
As stated, the name Horner was chanted frequently throughout the day. Pieces that did especially well included an all-original mahogany full-standing griffin sofa with carved back ($21,850), an oak parlor suite with detailed carving to include heads finely carved into the arms ($13,800), and a gorgeous mahogany library table with full body standing Atlas legs ($11,500).
Also by R. J. Horner: a mahogany full griffin slant-front desk with exceptional carving and a hidden drawer, all original ($10,925), an oak dining room table with full body griffins and four leaves, 125 inches long by 60 inches wide ($6,325); and a great mahogany library table with two drawers and a heavily carved band around the