Friday, September 5, 2014


Once in a while an event comes along which is truly unique, in this case you could call it the ultimate house call.  J. James Auctioneers & Appraisers has been invited to conduct the select museum deaccession of the Mayflower Society House, in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  

Upon my initial tour of the beautiful Georgian mansion of Edward Winslow, I was struck by the incredible diversity of objects it held. The collection begun in 1946 encompasses three centuries of art and antiques and represents nearly every possible category in collecting.  Many of the items are of extreme rarity, even unique and they will be offered for sale at auction, November 8th, 2014.

We have begun the work of researching and cataloging this collection in detail.  This process lets us "live" with each piece for a time.  I am always impressed by certain items which speak to me, figuratively of course.  They may not be the rarest or certainly the most valuable, but they posses a history or quality which draws one in a bit closer.  These objects seem to transcend the material world and make one contemplate  a deeper meaning.
  This week a simple silver spoon has made an impact on this humble auctioneer.  It was created in Boston during the second half of the Seventeenth Century and bears the date 1685 with its owners monogram pounced.  This piece has all of the characteristics we love, it is a "Trefid" design with a rat tail back and a deep circular bowl.  It would have been a cherished piece and a mark of wealth and distinction for its owner.  It was crafted of coin silver, by a master silversmith,  in a relatively primitive workshop.  It is a masterpiece, the simplicity of design carries an authentic grace and beauty which compliments its rarity.

I sometimes indulge in a bit of fantasy when I am working with a piece like this.  I try to imagine what was happening during its early life, what did this spoon witness?  The late seventeenth century was a tumultuous time in the colony of Massachusetts Bay.  The colonists had prosecuted a successful campaign against their Indian neighbors during King Phillips war, but were battling increasing resistance to the strict and heavy handed rule of the Puritan church.  Massachusetts was engaged in fierce economic competition with it's neighboring colonies, while coping with the aftermath of a destructive war.  It was a period of transition for the English colonies, a time for soul searching, rebuilding.  How did the owner of this spoon fit into this complex world?

As this project unfolds and our cataloging moves forward, I am excited to see what is next uncovered. I look forward to sharing this unique experience.  Until then I'll see you at the auction!