Estate of Nashville Collector Margaret Wemyss Connor to Headline May Case Auction

April 27, 2013 in Editorials

Art and antiques from the estate of noted Nashville collector Margaret Wemyss Connor headlines the Spring Case Antiques Auction, set for May 18 at the company’s gallery in Knoxville. The 750-lot sale also includes pieces from other estates and fine collections. Connor grew up at Fairvue Plantation in Gallatin, Tenn., the home of her father, Genesco co-founder William Wemyss, and stepmother, Ellen Wemyss, a preservationist credited with helping save Cragfont, Rosemont, and other historic Middle Tennessee houses. Mrs. Connor and her late husband shared that same passion for the past, becoming avid collectors of American paintings and furniture, as well as Worcester and Chinese Export porcelain. Of special note are the Connor’s tall case clock by Roxbury, Mass., master clockmaker Simon Willard (purchased out of a Gallatin estate in the 1960s), a rare Southern Chippendale chest of drawers with prospect door, documented by the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts and featured in the book “The Art and Mystery of Tennessee Furniture,” and an outstanding inlaid Federal sideboard attributed to Winchester, Virginia or Eastern Kentucky. Her coin silver from Alabama, Nashville and New Orleans, and her collection of early brass candlesticks is also expected to attract attention.

The auction also includes several Native American pottery items deaccessioned by an East Tennessee college. An important 17th century English portrait of Sir Willoughby Ashton by John M. Wright is expected to draw international interest, as is a collection of Erte Art Deco bronze sculptures and sporting art by Frank Stick and George Paice.

Southern antique highlights include an East Tennessee corner cupboard with vine inlay and a rare Tennessee hunt table; an outstanding Tennessee crazy quilt; a charcoal portrait miniature, possibly an early image of James K Polk, and an 1863 charcoal view of Knoxville; and documents signed by Polk and early Tennessee governors John Sevier and Sam Houston.

Adding an extra sparkle to this auction is an especially strong selection of jewelry. Several of the expected top sellers are rings, including a 3.04 carat brilliant diamond ring and an Art Deco diamond, platinum and sapphire ring, an antique diamond brooch/pendant decorated with an image of the Virgin Mary, a collection of Southwestern jewelry, and costume jewelry. Other categories offered include silver, Southern pottery, art glass, Civil War items, textiles, antique toys, and Asian antiques.

The auction takes place at the company’s gallery in the Cherokee Mills Building, 2240 Sutherland Avenue in Knoxville, on Saturday, May 18 at 9:30 a.m. Online, absentee and phone bids will also be accepted. A preview will take place on Friday, May 17 from noon to 6 p.m. EST or by appointment. The catalog for the auction, with price estimates, photos, and descriptions, for items in the order in which they will be sold can be viewed online at For more information, call the gallery in Knoxville at (865) 558-3033 or the company’s Nashville office at (615) 812-6096 or email