Case to Gavel Art, Antiques

July 1, 2016 in Editorials

Art, antiques, jewelry and Civil War objects from Devon Farm of Nashville and Hamilton Place of Maury County will cross the auction block for the first time ever on July 30, as part of the Summer Case Antiques Auction, to be held at the company’s gallery in Knoxville. The single-day auction, packed with more than 900 lots, also includes art and antiques deaccessioned by the Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga and the Memphis Brooks Museum along with fine art and antiques from several other Tennessee estates and private collections.

This is truly the most significant offering of historic Tennessee material in the last decade,” said company president John Case. “In the case of the Devon Farm and Hamilton Place pieces, a few have been exhibited, but they have never left the families until now.”

The Devon Farm collection comes from the estate of Sarah Hunter Hicks Green, who passed away in 2015. She descended from one of Nashville’s 18th century settlers, John Davis. Davis’s daughter, Fanny, married into the Harding family (of neighboring Belle Meade Plantation), and his grandson, Edward Dickson Hicks, went to the Gold Rush, enlisted in the Confederate Army, ran the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad, and developed Devon Farm into an internationally known breeding site for Devonshire cattle. (The home still stands, but the land is now the site of Ensworth High School). Family items include the brass compass used by John Davis to survey Nashville in the late 1700s, the Devon Farm sugar chest and sideboard, family portraits and silver, Civil War weapons and diaries, Gold Rush and Railroad archives, and a cache of important ephemera including documents signed by James Robertson, Sam Houston, Willie Blount, and other Tennessee governors, plus a slave trade archive containing more than 60 slave bills of sale. Mrs. Green was also the final descendent of noted Nashville photographers Otto and C.C. Giers, and the collection boasts the Giers archive of more than 500 period CDVs and albumen prints of people (including Civil War officers) and places connected to Nashville from the mid 1800s to early 1900s. Mrs. Green forged her own identity in Nashville by championing numerous charitable causes. Her personal collection is crowned by an extensive trove of fine jewelry such as an 8.03 carat diamond ring in JB Star mounting, and a 6.83 carat diamond ring (both with GIA certificates).

The estate of Jean Yeatman, who died in 2015, features objects that formerly graced Hamilton Place plantation just outside Columbia, Tenn. The mansion was built in 1832 by Lucius Junus Polk (a cousin of James K. Polk, who married Andrew Jackson’s niece, Mary Eastman). Polk gave Hamilton Place to their daughter, Mary Brown Polk Yeatman and her husband, Henry Clay Yeatman, who served as a Lt. Col. in the Confederate army during the Civil War. The family sold the house and some contents in the early 2000s, but kept many objects from the mid 1800s which are now being auctioned, including a sugar chest, cellarette, and corner cupboard, Lt. Col. Yeatman’s Tranter revolver, silver, portraits, and decorative items.

Important Tennessee items from other consignors include a rare miniature portrait of President Jackson’s wife, Rachel; Tennessee maps and pottery, a collection of Tennessee coin silver, paintings by Tennessee artists Carroll Cloar, Rudolph Ingerle, Werner Wildner, Mayme Freeman, George Cress, and Washington Girard.

The auction also includes a collection of primarily English furniture and decorative arts deaccessioned by the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, and contemporary Southern paintings deaccessioned by the Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga, along with an estate collection of rare gold coins and Asian antiques, a rare Lehigh Valley painted child’s chest, a George Washington presentation stoneware pitcher, and an estate collection of mid-century modern furniture.

The complete catalog for the auction, with full descriptions, price estimates, and photographs for items in the order in which they will be sold can be viewed online at The auction will take place at Case’s gallery in the Cherokee Mills Building, 2240 Sutherland Avenue in Knoxville, on Saturday, July 30 at 9:00 a.m. EST. Online, absentee and phone bids will also be accepted. A preview will take place on Friday, July 29, from noon to 6 p.m. EST or by appointment. For more information or to consign objects for a future auction, call the gallery in Knoxville at (865) 558-3033 or the company’s Nashville office at (615) 812-6096 or email

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