Friday, January 1, 2016

The Greatest Generation

In this business there sometimes seems to be a sea of interesting art antiques and curious objects lapping at the door.  These things can be described, measured, photographed, researched and dated.  This process helps us to understand them, to know what they are, maybe even affix a dollar value.  Unfortunately these objects usually appear out of context, without provenance their story is unknown.  Where they have been, who has possessed them or the role they have played is lost to time.  They are simply the sum of their parts and valued as such.  

On rare occasions an item or collection comes with a History, the story is intact!  Provenance can be the real value, whether a work of art or an antique.  One of these collections with a compelling story has crossed our threshold and will be offered to the highest bidder January 16th in J. James Auctioneers and Appraisers Winter Art & Antiques Auction.

The group consists of military documents, medals, a presented pocket watch, a US Naval Academy class ring, a cigarette case and finally a sword.  These diverse items have a common thread, they belonged to a decorated officer in the United States Navy who made the ultimate sacrifice in 1944.  USN Commander James Kent Averill was an aviator flying carrier based aircraft against a determined enemy in the Pacific.  

Averill's story begins with his graduation from the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1927, went to war and served on USN aircraft carriers, U.S.S. Enterprise and the U.S.S.Yorktown.  He was part of a team of aviators which set a distance and speed record for the United States Navy, flying in formation from San Francisco to Honolulu in 1934. For this feat he was presented with a sterling silver cigarette case from the "WRIGHT AERONAUTICAL Co", commemorating the flight.

For his service, Averill was awarded the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, and the Legion of Merit.  He sadly perished on takeoff from the deck of a carrier, his body was never recovered.  A telegram and letter to his family sadly announcing this event are also included in the group.

The collection serves to tell his story.  It is a true opportunity for a World War Two Historian or collector to capture a glimpse into the lives of the men who fought and died in this war.  The collection maps out Commander James Kent Averill's life of service and ultimate sacrifice for his country.