Bast's 'incredible collection' auctioned

Lifelong and well-known Boonsboro resident owned numerous quality antiques

Lifelong and well-known Boonsboro resident owned numerous quality antiques

March 08, 2008|By MARIE GILBERT

BOONSBORO -- Bidder, bidder, bidder.

How much for a rare astronomical clock with an elaborately inlaid mahogany case?

Who'll give 50,000?

Sixty, 70.

Who'll give 80?

Sold for $101,750.

Thank you.

A piece of history was auctioned off Saturday afternoon from the estate of John H. Bast Jr., a lifelong and well-known resident of Boonsboro.


The tall case clock, circa 1790, was signed John Reynolds, Hagerstown, and was expected by appraisers to bring top dollar.

They weren't wrong.

"There was a little bit of a bidding war," said Tom Bikle, Bast's nephew and executor of his estate. "We knew there would be a lot of interest. It was definitely the most popular clock auctioned today."

The winning bidder was from Hagerstown, he said.

The clock was exceptional, said professional appraiser John Newcomer, because of its rare moon dial. It features an inlaid waist that centers a conch shell and an inlaid base that centers an American eagle.

Early American clocks, including more than 20 shelf and mantel clocks and about a dozen tall clocks, were just one facet of Bast's extensive antiques collection that was auctioned off at the Cochran Auction Theatre on Mapleville Road.

There were candle stands, tea tables, porcelain vases, and early mirrors. There also were oil paintings, fine silver, rugs and cut glass lamps.

But of significance were the number of antiques with a local connection.

In addition to clocks made in Hagerstown, Frederick and Shepherdstown, W.Va., there was an early washstand made in Captain Brining's Boonsboro cabinet shop, and an early 14-drawer cabinetmaker's chest from the original Brining and Bast Furniture and Undertaking Shop in Boonsboro from the early 1800s.

"My uncle collected antiques for many years," Bikle said. "He and his wife were always traveling to antique shops."

His primary criteria when selecting antiques was to acquire fine pieces whose condition met his very high standards, he said.

Bikle said the auction featured about 480 cataloged items.

An uncataloged portion of the auction also was held, and included many hand tools used by Bast, whose hobby was cabinetmaking.

About 800 people registered to participate in the auction, Bikle said.

"People traveled here today from all over," he said. "Since the announcement of the auction several weeks ago, we've had inquiries from across the country - from Massachusetts to the state of Washington."

Bikle said a preview of the Bast collection was held last week to benefit the new Boonsboro branch of the Washington County Free Library.

A rare Johnston and Melhorn mantel clock from the estate recently was donated to the Boonsboro library, he said. The clock bears a label that says Boonsborough and Hagerstown.

"My uncle never wanted that clock to leave the area," he said.

Among the people attending Saturday's auction was Marcella Zauche of Westminster, Md.

"I'm an auction addict," she said. "And this is one of the better ones I've attended. The quality of antiques is unbelievable."

Zauche said she had purchased two brass birds and two crystal birds, but had her eye on a bronze ship.

"That's really what I came for," she said.

William London of Hagerstown came with a friend who was interested in bidding on several pieces of furniture.

"This is an incredible collection of antiques," he said. "Some of these pieces are things you just dream about."

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