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Hundreds scramble to buy antiques at Harwood Home

An Account from the The Evening Sun, Baltimore, MD

Annapolis, May 20, 1925–Desire to see the glory of Old Hammond or Harwood House and its treasures drew many persons to today’s sale of the personal property of Miss Hester Ann Harwood, the last occupant of the house. The sale was unique. From beginning to end it was almost a case of “buying a pig in a poke,” for seldom was the article offered present to sight. The fact that it had been part of the Harwood collection was sufficient guarantee that it was worth buying. Women of Annapolis expressed regret at the sale that Miss Harwood had not known the value of her possessions.

500 Inspect Old Home
Ten o’clock was the hour announced for the beginning of the sale, but bidding was postponed for an hour and a half so that the 500 persons present could inspect the house, built in 1774. It was a bargain rush of many women and fewer men. The first offering consisted of six Chippendale chairs. Bidding began at $50 each. Faster than the auctioneer could call the bids they jumped to $150. The chairs were bought by A.W. Clark for his private collection in Brooklyn for $960. The Chippendale dining table then went to H.L. Duer, Baltimore, for $460. Next, the Chippendale sideboard was knocked down to Mr. Clark for $1325.

Excited Over Ancient Clock
When the unseen grandfather’s clock, built by White, London, in 1750, was offered the bidders became excited in their efforts to be heard. Mrs. D.P. Galliard, of Washington, was given the timepiece for $785. She did not see her purchase until the recess. Baltimoreans then began to enter the contest. At the close of the day’s sale they had obtained the majority of the articles. Mrs. Miles White was attracted by seven upholstered Chippendale chairs. She went after them. So did twenty others, men and women. The bidding was brisk and the chairs became Mrs. White’s property for $1855. A Hepplewhite card table with its spade feet was bought by E.L. McDowell, Baltimore, for $150. Miss Harwood’s niece, Mrs. Bowers, of the Naval Academy, became the owner of an antique mahogany sofa “in the parlor,” the auctioneer said for $130.

Buys Peale Work For $2750
The highest price of the day was obtained for a portrait by Peale of a mother and child. Robert L. Werntz, Annapolis, paid $2750 for it. For a portrait of two children, by Gainsborough, Mr. Werntz paid $1000. He also obtained the portrait of the first land commissioner of Maryland for $230. This portrait is supposed to have been painted by Peale. Two miniatures by Field were bought by Mrs. White for $275. Another gem obtained by Mrs. White was a Hepplewhite sewing table for $325. Mr. and Mrs. White bought a silver tureen made by Charles L. Boehme, Baltimore, about 1805, at the bid of $475. They also obtained a dog top tankard made in 1716 for $260.

Tea Service Brings $1000
F. Backus, Wilmington, Del., bid in at $1000 for the five piece tea service made by Boehme (1805). A. W. Clark was given a Chippendale ball table for $625. Mr. Bakus obtained the oldest chair in the house, a Chippendale, for $300. The faith of the bidders stood the test when the bed and chest on the second floor were offered for sale. Few present had seen them and the descriptions were not vivid. Mr. Duer bought the chest of drawers for $410 and another chest went to an antique dealer for $260. Two four-poster beds were bought “unseen.” One was described as “a four-poster mahogany bed” and on this description was bought by E.J. McDowell for $195.

Surprised At Prices
Collectors of antiques and dealers who attended the sale said they were surprised at the prices obtained. Sentiment was a factor, they thought, but the surety of the genuiness was the real reason. Two globes were sold for $60 each, and four legs and two ends of a broken table realized $60. Before the recess for lunch at 2:30, the amount of the sale had reached $11,600 and for the day the total exceeded $20,000. The sale will be continued tomorrow until the entire personal estate of Miss Harwood is disposed of. The house will not be sold, but will remain in the hands of the heirs, it was said yesterday.

W. McC.

Posted on Sep 4, 2019 in by Hammond-Harwood House



Hammond-Harwood House

The mission of the Hammond-Harwood House Association is to preserve and to interpret the architecturally significant Hammond-Harwood House Museum and its collection of fine and decorative arts, and to explore the diverse social history associated with its occupants, both free and enslaved, for the purposes of education and appreciation.
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