Four times a year, Heritage Auctions hosts a Fine & Decorative Arts auction alongside our specialized Signature Auctions. Each Fine & Decorative Arts auction hosts a myriad of gorgeous antique furniture, museum quality art, decorative art pieces, and a conglomeration of somewhat off-the-wall collector items. In past years, this specific line of auctions has hosted a collection of unique and aged cookie tins, rare shaving mugs, and even a gorgeous library ladder – complete with reading seat, book easel and wheels, like something out of Beauty and the Beast. This year really takes the cake, though. Found in this auction are a collection of magnificent walking sticks for a gentleman of class, authentic ship figure heads from the 18th and 19th centuries, and even handcrafted longhorn furniture (yes, I mean the oh-so-Western style of furniture made out of real horns harvested posthumously from a longhorn steer).

I am an athletic 28-year old woman and am in no need of a walking stick or cane, but I find myself retreating regularly to Heritage’s storage facilities to admire the collection of canes and walking sticks that we are auctioning in late September. The collection is from Mr. Kenneth W. Davis of Fort Worth, Texas. He was a true Texas gentleman of class, a veteran of WWII and an oil tycoon with a wide range of knowledge, involvements and interests (more information about Davis can be found in our auction catalog). Each of his walking sticks is magnificently carved or crafted and each one is unique and fascinating. The most expensive canes can be disassembled and display some very surprising secrets.

One of my absolute favorites is a Bamboo Gaming Cane, late 19th century (est. $1,000-1,200) that holds a full checker and domino set! Who would have thought it! The collection is huge, and in it you can find more secrets, like the spy camera walking stick (est. $6,000-8,000), or the walking stick with a functioning crossbow (est. $1,500-2,500) or the English Tin, Brass and Wood Telescoping Cider Maker’s Walking Stick (est. $1,000-1,500). Also available are a walking stick that doubles as a lamp lighter (est. $800-1,200) another that folds out into a seat (est. $400-600) or another that has a harmonica built into the shaft (est. $800-1,200). The English Oak Gentleman’s Necessaire Walking Stick (est. $4,000-6,000) houses all the tools a gentleman needs for his toilette, and still another hosts a microscope inside (est. $2,000-3,000). How fun are these?! Be sure to view all of the fascinating antique walking sticks in our current Gentleman’s Collectors auction.

The auction also includes a cool collection of ship figureheads from a prominent Dallas collector. During the age when many were illiterate, the figureheads – which were mounted on the prow (front) of ships – used to provide identification for the ships, often serving as inspiration for the name of the ships. They also symbolized paying homage to the gods and goddesses of the sea to ensure safe travels, and were a way to honor figures of history or owners of the ships. They have a very colorful history and the pieces in the upcoming auction are a great example of that history. By far the most valuable piece is the Ajax (est. $25000-35,000), named for the Greek mythological figure. Ajax was the cousin of Achilles and known as a legendary warrior with great courage. Homer spoke of him often in The Iliad. The Ajax figure is not really a figurehead, but a hanging piece that would have been displayed between levels of the ship as decoration. It would have shared much of the same symbolism as a figurehead, and is much more impressive in person. My other favorite of the collection is the English Carved Wood Ship’s Figurehead: Classical Maiden (est. $7,000-10,000) from the late 18th century. She is very pretty but not exceptionally exciting until you realize that she has a small smugglers cavity on her right side. It is exciting to think about what this English lady may have smuggled across intercontinental borders! Be sure to view the entire set of wooden figureheads in this auction.

A Large and Important English Carved and Polychromed Oak Ship's Figurehead Ajax, mid-18th century

 

An English Carved Wood Ship's Figurehead Classical Maiden, late 18th century

Last but not least is a collection of Texas Longhorns! No, I do not mean the college football team – I mean cows that look like they’re on steroids. Longhorns are a part of Texas legacy and they are unmistakable. Heritage Auctions has launched a new category within its auctions called “Art of the West.” This section will host paintings and decorative arts that portray western culture and are made by western artists. This auction’s Art of the West section features two lots made of horns: a leather chair with longhorn arms and legs (est. $1,000-2,000) and a pair of mounted longhorns (est. $1,000-1,500). Didn’t see what you expected? Neither did I! Imagine my surprise and feeling of Texas pride when I saw those two pieces of glorious Western country history taking a starring role in the Art of the West section and if you’re a proud Texan cowboy lover like myself, don’t miss the John Wayne bronzes straight from the collection of Patrick Wayne.

A Texas Horn and Leather Chair, Probably Lamar County, late 19th-early 20th century

A Pair of Mounted Texas Long Horns

Written by: Kathryn Hoogendoorn


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