Blogging Along the Brandywine

A few years ago, Bill Bunch held
a local edition of “Antiques Road Show” at his large auction house on Route 202
just south of the Route 1 intersection, for the members of the Chadds Ford
Business Association.

As my mother had been collecting
antiques since the early 1950s, I thought, I’d bring in one of her large
paintings–a mid 19th century oil on canvas landscape, with an
ornate, over-sized gold frame.

The format of the evening was to
educate those attending by speaking about each item before giving an appraisal
on their value.

I had visions of Chadds Ford Road
Show glory.

Throughout the evening, Bunch,
who in his own words, “cared not much for history in school,” spoke with candor,
humor and knowledge while educating those in attendance about the history,
significance and value of each item brought to his attention. Anyone could have
mistaken him for an on-air personality from the PBS series.

However, when Bunch came around
to our family painting, he said the artist was not in any databases but, hey,
nice frame though, which he could easily sell at any of his Tuesday auctions
for $1,500.

So much for my dreams of early
retirement.

William H. Bunch was born right over the state line in
Delaware near Foulk and Naamans Roads, graduating from the Brandywine High
School, class of ’65.

“As a kid, I always had to create
my own income,” he said.

“I picked up soda bottles for 2
cents each; caddied at about $2 per round; worked many part-time jobs at $1 an
hour; and sold candid photos in high school.”

His early training in auctions
and appraisals came from many years, “on the job, in the street, buying and
selling, going to auctions, talking to people who knew more than I did,” he
said.

Bunch,
who holds auctions at noon every other Tuesday at the auction house he opened
in 2002 said, “It's the best place to stretch your money while having a very
good time. There’s always something you need at a fair price.”

Bunch
suggested those new to auctions first attend some sales and get product
knowledge before making a "major" purchase.

I asked
Bill if any surprises had ever been found in one of his estate auctions.

“Last
year we sold a 4" high jade bottle to a collector in London for over
$40,000, underbid by a dealer in mainland China,” he said. “And three years
ago, [we sold] a rare country tea table with no top and partly rotted feet, for
over $14,000.”

Of
course, we all have that one auction phobia. You know which one.

When I
was a teenager, my parents took me along to a local estate auction. I was
cautioned not to touch my eye, tap my nose, pull my ear or wink, lest I bid on
something I could not afford. I literally sat on my fingers, barely breathing,
frozen to my chair.

But not
to worry, Bunch assured, “You will not buy something by accident if you scratch
your nose.”

The
next exciting multi-estate auction is Tuesday, Dec. 22 at noon, just in time
for last minute holiday buying for that special  “difficult-to-buy-for” someone.

You may
view the on-line catalog at www.williambunchauctions.com
and dream.

“We welcome newcomers who want to
learn,” Bunch said. “Don't be intimidated, just stop by.”

About Sally Denk Hoey

Sally Denk Hoey, is a Gemini - one part music and one part history. She holds a masters degree cum laude from the School of Music at West Chester University. She taught 14 years in both public and private school. Her CD "Bard of the Brandywine" was critically received during her almost 30 years as a folk singer. She currently cantors masses at St Agnes Church in West Chester where she also performs with the select Motet Choir. A recognized historian, Sally serves as a judge-captain for the south-east Pennsylvania regionals of the National History Day Competition. She has served as president of the Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates as well as the Sanderson Museum in Chadds Ford where she now curates the violin collection. Sally re-enacted with the 43rd Regiment of Foot and the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment for 19 years where she interpreted the role of a campfollower at encampments in Valley Forge, Williamsburg, Va., Monmouth, N.J. and Lexington and Concord, Mass. Sally is married to her college classmate, Thomas Hoey, otherwise known as "Mr. Sousa.”

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