Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure

It was during the Case Antiques Auction on January 25th, 2014, that I saw these beautiful silver sauce boats.  But I had no idea of their worth. The auction interested me mainly because friends of mine had submitted a Catherine Wiley painting to go up for bid to fund an exhibit at our local Ijams Nature Center.  (Click here to read.)

Pair of silver sauce boats by Fueter at Case Antiques Auction.  Estimate: $3,000

Pair of silver sauce boats by Fueter at Case Antiques Auction. Estimate: $3,000

The catalog description read as follows:  Pair of 18th century American silver sauce boats or butter boats, mark of Lewis Fueter (New York, (1746-1784). Crafted in the Rococo style, each sauceboat has a scalloped rim, broad, extended spout, and cast double-scrolled handle with acanthus leaf thumbgrip, and rests on three cabriole legs with stylized shell patterns at each knee and triple pad feet supports. Matching stylized cypher monograms on both. Each marked on underside, “Fueter” (see matching circa 1770 mark pictured in Ensko’s American Silversmith’s and Their Marks , p. 265). 3-7/8″ H x 6- 3/4″L x 3- 7/8″ width. 16 oz troy. 

Mark of silversmith Lewis Fueter

Mark of silversmith Lewis Fueter

When they came up for auction as Lot 274 with an estimated value of $3,000, my friends and I were surprised when the bidding reached $8,000, $9,000, $10,000 rather quickly.  And right behind us, we heard a young man gasping, Agghhh!  Ugghh! at every bidding increment.  We looked back at the man (turning pale at the exorbitant bidding), and asked, Are you all right? He leaned forward and sheepishly whispered, Those are my sauce boats! 

Detail of cabriole leg on Lewis Fueter silver sauce boat, Case Antiques

Detail of cabriole leg on Lewis Fueter silver sauce boat, Case Antiques

Well, what a treasure these were turning out to be as the bidding reached $20,000, then $25,000, then $30,000.  I was afraid the man would faint.  When the auctioneer gaveled down at $37,000, we all gasped and wondered how the original estimate could have been so low.  And then we wondered what made these pretty-but-nothing-special-to-the-naked-eye so extraordinary.  I walked to the case where purchased items were stored until pick-up and noted the silver mark on the bottom.  One of the assistants frankly admitted, We may have underestimated this one.

Silver sauce boat, one of a pair that sold for $37,000, at Case Antiques Auction in Knoxville

Silver sauce boat, one of a pair that sold for $37,000, at Case Antiques Auction in Knoxville

Then I walked back to my seat.  The owner (by now, he was the previous owner) of the sauce boats had gone to get iced tea, yet I dare say he might have taken to strong drink had the opportunity presented itself!  His friend then leaned over and whispered to me, You have no idea of the whole story.  He  bought them in a box lot in a yard sale in Morristown, Tennessee, for only $25.00!

Quite the treasure indeed, I thought.

For more entries in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure, click here.

(To access the information on the Lewis Fueter silver sauce boats, click here.  The final price of $43,290 quoted on the site includes the buyer’s premium.)

Case Antiques

2240 Sutherland Avenue, Suite 101

Knoxville, TN 37919



About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
This entry was posted in Tennessee, Weekly Photo Challenge and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure

  1. FreeRangeCow says:

    Your delivery of the story was SPOT ON! I was on the edge of my seat! LOL!

  2. Woolly Muses says:

    We were looking for a sauce boat, cannot remember why, a few years ago, and could not find any. I think $25 was our upper limit :-). I think everyone would just love to be the owner of those trinkets.

  3. Cee Neuner says:

    Marvelous closeups!!!! I’m so thrilled you are experimenting and playing with new ideas. How fun it that.

  4. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge – Treasure | Through the Eye of Bastet

  5. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure » Mine !!! | ISENGRAPHER™

  6. sued51 says:

    WOW! I’m surprised he didn’t faint! Well worth the $25 I guess!

  7. cspindler says:

    Great story…thanks for sharing the words and photos for the “rest of the story.”

  8. Preeti says:

    Wow! amazing story..loved it.

    • Rusha Sams says:

      Thanks so much! It was amazing, and I’ve always wished it could happen to me. But being right in front of the guy who originally bought the sauce boats was rather fun. We kept looking back to see if he was going to pass out or something!

  9. Pingback: Photo -challenge – Treasure #photography #poetry | Moondustwriter's Blog

  10. Antiques Roadshow is one of my favorites and I always hope one of my “finds” turn out to be worth something. 🙂 Thanks for sharing such a fun story!

  11. wooow..treasure indeeed….love the silverwares…USD 25 to 37,000! speechless…

  12. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure | Nola Roots, Texas Heart

  13. Tina Schell says:

    Don’t you just LOVE stories like that?! Wonderfully interesting post.

    • Rusha Sams says:

      I really, really love knowing someone who either owns something up for auction or has just purchased it. What would be fun is to see what people do with the item afterwards! Thanks for reading/commenting!

  14. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure (Flowers) | What's (in) the picture?

  15. suej says:

    What a wonderful story…

  16. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure | To Breathe is to Write

  17. What a stroke of unexpected luck…. i enjoyed reading your account.

  18. Rusha Sams says:

    I sure hope it happens to me someday!!! Thanks for reading!

  19. Valentina says:

    It often happens to buy something at yard sale and discover later the piece is worth a bundle of money.

  20. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure | Bark Time = everything and nothing

Please leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.