A three-door mahogany bookcase crafted around 1890 by the renowned American furniture maker R. J. Horner, sold for $22,425 by Stevens Auction at a sale of the living estate of Brenda McCarthy of Tupelo, Mississippi.
The bookcase boasted Atlas statue sides and curved glass on the center door. It was monumental in size – 5 feet tall and 84 inches wide. Many top sellers of the 275 lots that crossed the block carried the Horner name. His workshop on West 23rd Street in New York City produced some of the most most highly prized furniture pieces of the period.
McCarthy’s estate contained antique furnishings and other items from the Memphis, Tennessee, home of Margaret Polk, McCarthy’s mother-in-law’s sister. Ms. Polk was the fiancée of Capt. Robert K. Morgan, a pilot in the legendary B-17F Flying Fortress. His plane, the Memphis Belle, was so-named because he liked Southern belles, and Margaret Polk was a Southern belle.
Through her father, Oscar B. Polk, Ms. Polk was related to James Knox Polk, the 11th president of the United States. But her family did pretty well, too, as Oscar B. Polk was a banker, real estate developer, cotton broker and one of the largest landowners in Mississippi and Arkansas, where he presided over thousands of acres of cotton land, as his father did before him.
Mr. Polk built a stately, three-story Queen Anne home in Memphis and had it filled with furnishings custom-made especially for him by the R.J. Horner Company.
Also by R. J. Horner: a mahogany full griffin slant-front desk with exceptional carving and a hidden drawer, all original ($10,925), an oak dining room table with full body griffins and four leaves, 125 inches long by 60 inches wide ($6,325); and a great mahogany library table with two drawers and a heavily carved band around the top and claw feet, 63 inches long ($5,175).
Yet more Horner offerings included a mahogany high-back bed with faces carved into the crown ($4,600), a mahogany bookcase with standing ladies on each side and ladies’ faces carved on the feet ($4,600), an oak sideboard with winged griffin crown and china cabinet top ($4,025), and a beautiful oak curved glass china cabinet with Atlas carved columns and claw feet ($3,450).