“Brown furniture” and “Victorian”are not words you commonly hear in the same breath with “auction records,” but there are welcome exceptions now and then. A rare, museum-quality mechanical rosewood drop-front secretary desk, made around 1860 and attributed to the renowned American furniture maker Thomas Brooks, recently sold for $21,280 at only the second auction held by Stevens at Flomaton, the Alabama affiliate of Stevens Auction Company, based in Aberdeen, Mississippi.
The secretary desk was the top achiever of the estimated 400 lots that changed hands on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31. The piece still had the original finish and was substantial in size at 9 feet 11 inches tall, nearly 6 feet wide and 26 inches deep. The second top lot was a 6-piece parlor set by John H. Belter, in the Rosalie with Grapes pattern and crafted circa 1850. It made $15,680.
Headlining the event were four prominent old Southern estates, including the contents of a Baton Rouge estate with undeniable provenance and a Mississippi antebellum mansion called Cedar Grove. The quality of the merchandise was a magnet to bidders, who packed the gallery. Phone and absentee bidding were both brisk throughout the day. There was no Internet bidding.
“Everything moved quickly and we had a real good crowd,” said Dwight Stevens, owner of both Stevens at Flomaton and Stevens Auction Company. “We are gradually assembling a whole new audience along the Gulf Coast that’s very pleased the business is back, under new ownership, with a commitment to quality. And the area is booming, despite a weak economy.”