By Ray Van Dusen/Monroe Journal
ABERDEEN – Stevens Auction Co. last weekend brought in visitors from near and far to bid on arts and antiques.
Saturday’s auction was unique because its proceeds will go toward building a cultural heritage center for the Choctaw Nation on their land near Philadelphia. The auction brought in tens of thousands of dollars.
The Feb. 20 auction featured the personal collection of the late Roy Clyde Gardner. The Neshoba County native’s passion for collecting art and antiques soon transformed his home into a museum.
“In 1998, Mr. Gardner bequeathed his estate to the band of Choctaws and what we are auctioning today is probably 10 percent of what he had in his home,” said John Cumberland, planner for the Mississippi Band of Choctaws.
“These items are only a fraction of what he had and this was the best of his collection. We hope people from around the world will enjoy these pieces,” said Dwight Stevens, auctioneer at Steven’s Auction.
Gardner’s collection was originally intended for a museum at Silver Star Casino, but following the death of Chief Phillip Martin, plans were redrawn. This auction was also originally intended to be held at Silver Star Casino’s conference center, but the venue was changed to Aberdeen.
The 399 items ranged from a Victorian brass candlestick to a Chickerling Victorian Rosewood Square grand piano with an array of paintings, busts, vases and glassworks in between.
While many items hovered above the $5,000 price mark throughout the day, most of the online bids came from New York from several different collectors. The number of hits on the different Web sites tallied more than 100,000 and bidders were from 37 countries outside of the United States. Call-in bids were substantial as well.
“During the six-hour auction, we never had all of the bidding crowd on hand at the same time. Since the items were in numerical order, people would go tour homes, eat and visit the downtown shops before coming back to bid on their desired items. On some pieces, the Internet bidders ran the show. We had 10 items in a row where there wasn’t a single bid on the floor because of the internet,” Stevens said.
While the parking lot of Stevens Auction had Lexus SUVs and Mercedes Benzes with license plates from Arkansas and Tennessee, plenty of locals were on hand just to see the excitement, too.
“We love to come down and look to see what’s up for bid. It’s just a lot of fun,” said Betty Lenoir of Aberdeen.