Auctioneer Bob Young was about a third of the way through the list of 104 items he was dispensing for the Summit County Courthouse when he was struck by the inherent history of each piece, some of them from the 19th century.
“If these items could talk!” he said as he sold off one of 27 wall and grandfather clocks that once decorated the courthouse.
About 150 people turned out for the unusual auction, which also included bronze sculptures, framed art, antique furniture, and Lionel train sets used for Christmas displays in the rotunda.
Probate Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer asked to sell the items — a collection accumulated by her predecessor, Judge Bill Spicer, over a 31-year career — to raise funds for upgrading her court. The Summit County Council approved.
Spicer was a history buff who often looked for items that could teach courthouse visitors something about the country’s past, said his former secretary, Lois Noirot.
Noirot, in the audience hoping to buy something, called the Thursday event “bittersweet.”
“I saw most of them come in when he bought them, and each one meant something special to the judge,” she said.
Uniontown attorney Bob McNamara was also familiar with most of the pieces in the sale. He pointed out where some of the clocks hung and who used the roll-top desks.
“I’ve known Judge Spicer for a number of years and always admired some of these pieces,” said McNamara, who was eyeing a tapestry, an oriental rug and a curio cabinet.
A print of Abraham Lincoln sold for $205, a framed Constitution went for $115, and a Thomas Jefferson bust got $400.
A Seth Thomas wall clock garnered $2,100, a 7-foot high roll-top desk with hutch got $1,900, and four leather antique chairs brought in $400 for the set.
Some things went far cheaper than the auctioneer expected.
Young bet the crowd that a print showing a colonial American giving a speech to a crowd was probably worth $4,500 when purchased, but he didn’t attract a bid until he dropped the price to $200. The large framed artwork sold for $300.
Still, organizers said they were pleased with the $30,130 the auction netted.
Larry and Rose Ralston — who made a two-hour trip from Smithfield in southern Ohio — were impressed with the lots.
“I was surprised they’d have such high value items, especially the clocks,” Larry Ralston said.
Others were expecting an entirely different kind of auction.
“I heard about it and thought maybe there would be some office furniture,” said Michael Swoape, who drove in from Green.