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The Farewell Antiques Auction At Bradford's



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The Farewell Antiques Auction At Bradford’s

After 37 Years Bradford Auction Gallery Closes Its Doors



The Bradford Gallery sign that has brought buyers into the auction gallery since the 1970s.



Robert Emberlin has run Bradford’s since 2001, joined by his daughter Catherine upon graduation from college.



The Federal mahogany server with twist-carved legs and two short drawers over one long drawer sold at $3,080.



A Sheraton lift top desk that appeared as a two-drawer workstand had a faux top drawer that opened to reveal a felt lined writing surface. It did well despite the rough condition, selling for $2,035.



A silk on satin needlework portrait depicting an American yacht, signed Willis, sold for $1,485.



A standing room only crowd was on hand for the auction.



Auctioneer Robert Emerlin looks for bids on the two early chairs that sold for $440.





Robert Emerlin, right, shows clients some the jewelry and smalls offered at the sale.



The Chippendale maple tall chest realized $1,540.



The Rockwell Kent lithograph brought $214.



The Chippendale D-shaped table sold at $1,595.



Looking over a lot of botanical prints that brought $825.


Bradford FAREWELL post



Review and Photos by David S. Smith

SHEFFIELD, MASS. — A “Farewell Antiques Auction” was conducted by Bradford Galleries Ltd March 23, marking the final chapter in the auction business after 35 successful years. A large and sometimes somber crowd was on hand as the gavel fell in the auction house for the final time.

As usual, there were some treasures and even a couple sleepers sprinkled among the trademark offering at Bradford’s; however, the vast majority of the lots garnered hefty prices throughout the evening.

Bradford Galleries was founded by Bill Bradford in 1970 and moved to its present location on heavily traveled Route 7 in 1978. It was there that the gallery found its home, just to the north of the longtime antiques-oriented region surrounding Sheffield.

The town of Sheffield and the surrounding region was once home to such old-time dealers as Ralph Garfield Jones, Bihler and Coger, and Lois Spring, as well as Good and Hutchinson, who are perhaps the last of the cadre of early dealers still active in the Sheffield area. With the antiques shops proving as popular today as they were in the past, Good and Hutchinson have been joined by 20-plus other dealers from the region, including a Main Street shop operated by Sam Herrup and Grace and Elliott Snyder in the bordering village of South Egremont.

Bill Bradford died in July 1996; however, his wife, Lois, continued to actively run the business until 2001, when she moved to Florida. Robert Emberlin, Lois’s son, has run Bradford’s since that time, joined by his daughter, Catherine, upon graduation from college.

Citing the Route 7 property as having been placed on the real estate market and the ever-increasing overhead associated with running auctions, Emberlin stated that it was time to let things go and to focus on other aspects of life.

The closing auction reminded many in the capacity crowd of days gone by — no telephone bids, no absentee bids and certainly no Internet bidding. Many in attendance were also overheard reminiscing about all of the good times had at the gallery over the years, others related tales about good fortunes in regard to items they had purchased at bargain prices, and yet others recalled the hard fights to win pristine objects that the auction house had garnered a solid reputation for discovering over the past three decades.

After a short farewell and a “thank you for your patronage” address, Emberlin called for the first lot to be brought to the block, a silk on satin needlework portrait on a painted ground depicting an American yacht, signed Willis. The unusual piece generated quite a bit of interest and a flurry of bidding as the lot opened at $500 and sold a short time later for $1,485.

A Stella “Symphonic” music box in a carved mahogany case was sold with more than 75 discs. Offered early in the auction, it, too, attracted a great deal of interest with several in the crowd chasing the lot. Bidding opened at $1,200 and it bounced back and forth, eventually coming between a gentleman in the rear of the gallery and a bidder seated in the front. A new bidder jumped in the action and claimed the lot at $4,730.

Furniture brought hefty prices throughout the auction with a Federal mahogany server with twist-carved legs and two-short drawers over one long drawer selling at $3,080. A pair of Empire console tables did well at $3,300, while an Empire dining table realized $2,145.

A Sheraton lift top desk that appeared as a two-drawer workstand had a faux top drawer that opened to reveal a felt lined writing surface. In rough condition and estimated at $150/250, the reeded leg desk took off as it crossed the block, selling at $2,035.

A Chippendale maple tall chest sold for $1,540, a Chippendale D-shaped table with ball and claw feet made $1,595, and a bow front corner cupboard in original grained paint brought $1,045. A nice early splayed ladder back armchair with sausage turnings was discovered to have the back feet cut down, yet it was still bid to $770.

A four-piece Gorham sterling tea set sold for $825, while a similar three-piece set brought $495.

Other smalls included a bronze table lamp that was hammered down at $550, a brass carriage clock went reasonably at $187, a set of fireplace tools fetched $797 and a Rockwell Kent lithograph brought $214.

Prices include the ten percent buyer’s premium charged. Along with Rob and Catherine Emberlin, the familiar faces at Bradford’s will surely be missed, including Becky Schopp, Barry Davidson, John Benedetto, Scott Ryan and Carol Fisher, as well as Phyllis Pickert and Albert Marshall, who had both been associated with the gallery for more than 20 years.

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