Cruising for Yankees

December 28, 2014 in Editorials

Cruising for Yankees”: CSS Shenandoah Diary On Board Case’s Winter Auction

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.— 24-year old Lieutenant Dabney Minor Scales knew he was witnessing history on November 6, 1865, as the ensign of his ship became the last Confederate flag to be surrendered. So he documented it in his diary, one of the final entries in his account of his Civil War maritime adventures on board the C.S.S. Shenandoah. Now, almost 150 years later, his descendants are auctioning that diary, along with a trove of rare photographic images of the ship and crew and other related objects. They will be centerpiece lots at the Winter Case Antiques Auction, to be held Jan. 24 at the company’s gallery in Knoxville. The sale also includes a single-owner collection of Southern coin silver and more than 800 lots of European and American paintings, furniture, jewelry and other antiques.

Dabney Scales left the Naval Academy at Annapolis to join the Confederate Navy; after the war he became a Tennessee attorney and state legislator from Memphis. The Shenandoah is remembered for capturing 38 ships and firing the last shot of the Civil War. Upon receiving confirmation of Lee’s surrender -two months after it actually happened- the crew docked in England, where they lowered the Confederate flag for the very last time, marking the final surrender of Confederate forces. (That flag was later given by a Scales relative to the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, VA.) Scales’ diary, which he titled “Cruising for Yankees,” recounts the extraordinary events and many other happenings on board the famous ship. It is estimated at $10,000-$12,000; his photographic album containing dozens of likenesses of identified Civil War Naval offices is expected to command the same. Another important historic document in the auction is a Revolutionary War era notebook belonging to General James Winchester, one of the earliest settlers of Middle Tennessee and a founder of Memphis; it records a $100,000 payment from the Marquis de Lafayette, as well as notes from the first Tennessee census, taken in 1795. The auction also includes the Civil War archive of Russell Cassady of Georgia 9th, the diary of chaplain T.D. Witherspoon of the 2nd and 42nd Mississippi, and a collection of Civil War battle maps. A scarce 1799 map of Tennessee is offered along with a plat book of Chattanooga dating from 1928, and a rare Andrew Jackson-signed document authorizing the sale of land in Alabama from a Native American to a white settler.

Collectors of Southern coin silver will not want to miss the sale of the collection of Mr. John Montague of Memphis. His lifetime collection features more than 50 lots of rare examples from Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and New Orleans, including pitchers, julep cups, a basket, and flatware, even a pair of candlesticks retailed in Memphis during the Civil War. Other silver in the sale includes an extraordinary boxed 148-piece set of Parisian 1st Standard silver flatware with crown monograms, English and American sterling tea sets and flatware sets, and a monumental Chinese Export Silver bowl (11” diam.) and tea service (10 pcs, including cups).

Fine Art is one of the largest categories in the auction. Highlights include 2 paintings by Knoxville-born African-American artist Beauford Delaney: an abstract textile and a portrait of a woman; plus a carved limestone bird sculpture by William Edmondson from the estate of Louise Katzman of Nashville, formerly exhibited at Cheekwood and the Tennessee State Museum. There is also a pair of early 19th century portraits by Ralph E.W. Earl, depicting thoroughbred breeder Hardee Murphree Cryer and his wife; landscapes by Catherine Wiley and James Wiley Wallace; 4 surrealist works by Werner Wildner; and 4 Red Grooms works including an original design painting of the Tennessee “Fox Trot” Carousel. Other Southern related art includes a still life and landscape by Carrie Hill of Alabama; 2 Kentucky landscapes by Harvey Joiner, an early 19th century town landscape, possibly Salem, NC; and a bronze sculpture awarded as the trophy for the 1957 Women’s World Basketball Championship, won by the American team (the coach, and several players, were from Tennessee). National and international artists represented include Hermann Herzog, Abbott Fuller Graves, David Burliuk, Johann Klombeek, Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, and Jules Herve.

An outstanding East Tennessee Federal chest of drawers with profuse vine, blossom and fan inlay leads the furniture offerings; there is also an East Tennessee walnut tall chest and a corner cupboard that descended in the family of Revolutionary War Colonel John Sawyers. Two Middle Tennessee sugar chests will be sold, along with a Tennessee plantation or postmaster desk with Cheekwood provenance. Hailing from Kentucky’s famed Calumet Farm is an extraordinary sugar chest in the form of a miniature sideboard, a rare block-front chest of drawers and tall case clock, all from the estate of Mrs. Bertha Wright, along with a Kentucky Jackson Press from another Bluegrass state collection. The sale also features several pieces of French furniture (including a Napoleon III commode with signed bronze mounts) and Midcentury Modern furniture including a desk by noted Mississippi designer Bertha Schaefer.

There are more than 50 lots of estate and antique jewelry. The lineup features several lots of diamond jewelry including necklaces and a 3 carat diamond ring with GIA certification. There is also an antique 18K yellow gold Patek Phillipe pocketwatch with 1916 presentation engraving and original certificate, and a rare Victorian coral parure.

As usual, Southern pottery lovers will have a myriad of choices. The expected top seller is an East Tennessee redware jar with manganese decoration. There is also an large (15”H) N.H. Dixon signed North Carolina salt dripped stoneware jar that descended in the potter’s family; an alkaline glazed ring jug attributed to Alabama; and several pieces of Virginia and Georgia pottery including a Lanier Meaders face jug with rock teeth.

The porcelain category features a large collection of figural Royal Bayreuth porcelain from the estate of the late Elise Steiner of Nashville, including rarities and the popular Devil and Cards line. There are also several painted plaques including KPM; Dorothy Doughty birds; and an exceptionally large collection of Mason’s Imari style ironstone with rare serving forms. A Rene Lalique amber “Rinceaux” chandelier leads the art glass category; there are also lamps by Pairpoint, Handel, and Lotton; a Webb cameo vase; and a pair of Bohemian armorial beakers.

Other notable objects in the auction include a carved walnut Polyphon upright coin operated music box, a Lemon Crush syrup dispenser, fur coats, gold coins, a collection of Schoenhut circus figures, a Native American Germantown child’s blanket plus several pieces of Native American pottery, and signed Tennessee baskets and quilts.

The January 24 auction will take place at the company’s gallery in the Cherokee Mills Building, 2240 Sutherland Avenue in Knoxville starting at 9:00 AM. Online, absentee and phone bids will also be accepted. A preview will take place on Friday, January 23, from noon to 6PM EST or by appointment. The catalog for the auction, with full descriptions, price estimates, and photographs for items in the order in which they will be sold, will be available online in late December at www.caseantiques.com. For more information, call the gallery in Knoxville at (865) 558-3033 or the company’s Nashville office at (615) 812-6096 or email info@caseantiques.com.

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