Jan. 30, 2004 – The first item scheduled to go on the block Sunday in the 5th annual Antiques, Art and Collectibles Auction of the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas dates from the 1960s: a "Danish Modern free-standing teak desk with six drawers on one side, cabinet and three shelves on the other side."
The last item — that would be No. 166 — dates from the 1860s: "Occasional table, serpentine top on carved mahogany tripod pedestal, on three carved legs decorated with scrollwork; Martinique."
In between, bidders will vie for West Indian and other furniture, accessories, china, crystal, porcelain, silverware, a rug, art, books, maps, and even a donkey cart — mostly items from the 19th and 20th centuries, but with some pieces older and some even newer. You can check them all out on the synagogue auction Web pages.
For the second year the event is taking place in the University of the Virgin Island Sports and Fitness Center.
The auction will begin at noon Sunday with Bruce Wilson of St. Croix as auctioneer. First, however, there are two opportunities for the public to preview the items to be auctioned — Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon. Proxy bidding may be arranged, with details on the synagogue Web site.
In addition to the items to be auctioned, there are many more up for sale directly. This year, for the first time, some of the direct-sale pieces will be available for purchase at the Saturday previewing. Among these are hand-crafted jewelry and smaller items from the estate of Lilian Hoepfner Langford, a longtime St. Thomas resident who died a year ago, and objects by St. Johnian woodturning artisan Avelino Samuel.
The oldest auction items by far, being sold as a lot, are not antiques but antiquities: a highly polished Taino amerindian ceremonial jadite axe plus three smaller stone axes, found in the Dominican Republic and dating from the period 400-800 A.D.
From multi-centuries ago are a pair of 7 ½-inch high "onion bottles, Horsehoof Squat, German/Dutch," circa 1690-1700, and a scarce map of the Virgin Islands for the "History of the West Indies" by Bryan Edwards, recently conserved and dated 1794.
Among the least "antique," but certainly among the very "collectible" pieces is "No Fish for Me," a 1995 oil on canvas painting in his whimsical-characters style by Donald Laurent Dahlke. Original works by a number of the territory's other well-known artists of today also are to be auctioned, along with a painting done in 1952 by St. Thomian Albert Daniel, one done in 1965 by Eric Winter and a collection of photographs by Fritz Henle.
And then there is one item that doesn't even have a date yet: a daysail for eight aboard the 62-foot sailboat Spirit, lunch included. The winning bidder can take advantage anytime through June 13 that the vessel isn't already booked.
Four original works by French Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro, who was born and reared on St. Thomas, have been put into the auction by the Stern Pissarro Gallery in London, which is owned by the artist's great-granddaughter, Lelia Pissarro-Stern, and her husband, David Stern. They are:
"Paysage," a small pastel and charcoal drawing signed with the artist's initials; a lithograph, "The Vagabonds," signed C.Pissarro in the plate: "Scene with Figures, Venezuela," a double-sided pencil drawing signed C.Pissarro on one side and stamped with the artist's initials on the other; and "Study of the Artist's Mother," a chalk portrait of Rachel Petit of St. Thomas, stamped with the artist's initials.
Among the local antique furniture pieces are two four-poster mahogany beds, one made on St. Croix circa 1870 and the other on St. Thomas circa 1890. The St. Croix bed, with turned and carved posts, a turned spindled railing at the foot, a paneled back section and a carved crest, in its original queen size, is "a rare collector's item that has been in the Anduze family on St. Thomas for three generations," the Web site states.
Other auction items include:
– Several dozen pieces of antique West Indian furniture from the Philip Sturm Collection.
– Scores of pieces from the Langford estate — Danish Modern teak and rosewood furniture, Oriental chests and cabinets, silver, crystal, porcelain and art (including the Daniel and Winter paintings).
– A dozen antique West Indian pieces from the collection of Sean Krivatch, including unusual glass bottles and the century-old donkey cart manufactured in Guyana and used to transport goods to market circa 1900.
– Several armoires and linen presses, including two made on St. Thomas and one made on St. Croix.
– Collectibles from the estate of Gertrude Lockhart Dudley Melchior.
The auction is the Hebrew Congregation's annual fund-raiser to support the maintenance of its 170-year-old synagogue building, which has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and to keep it open to the public. For further information, call the synagogue office at 774-4312.
Food will be available for purchase at the Sports and Fitness Center on Sunday, catered by The Old Stone Farmhouse.
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