Globetrotting Geologist’s Jaw-Dropping Estate Sale to Draw Serious Collectors

A jaw-dropping lifetime collection of a retired geologist will draw serious collectors to his living estate sale to be run by Fitch Estate Sales and scheduled for May 15-17 in Kerrville, Texas. The collection included items from around the world, including West Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Central and South America.

Having run estate sales for 20 years, Rachel Fitch knew immediately that this one was going to be different. A retired geologist who had worked in at sites around the world wanted to sell off most of his possession, which includes antiques and collectibles from the jungles of Brazil to the hinterlands of China and just about every place in between.

“This has been one of the most challenging sales I’ve been involved in,” Fitch said from her shop—Fitch Estate Sales—in Kerrville, Texas. “It is a lifetime collection, a living estate. The gentleman is selling everything in the house and moving to Ecuador, shipping only a couple of trunks of his possessions.” The sale is scheduled for May 15-17 in Kerrville’s Riverhill neighborhood.

The collection is jaw-dropping. Over the course of 40 years, the man and his wife—he’s 70 now, she passed away a decade ago—would spend their free time shopping, picking up native and cultural treasures from the places they were living: Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Gabon, Thailand, South Sumatra, Pakistan and all across Central and South America.

Among the items tagged for sale are Chinese alters and Buddha statues, beautiful Yemeni silver and coral jewelry, West Africa fertility statues, sarongs, jade, antique French and English furniture and dozens of ceremonial masks from several cultures. There are hundreds of fossils and minerals examples, including natural occurring copper and amethyst. One piece that will be sold separately is a naturally occurring gold vein in quartz which is expected to sell for at least $45,000 at mineral dealer in Dallas. Since word has gotten out about the treasures in the sale, Fitch says that high-end collectors will be flying in to this Texas Hill Country town an hour outside of San Antonio specifically to buy these items.

While Fitch is used to identifying and pricing items in her sales herself, she had to call in the cavalry in the form of category-specific experts on many of the items in this sale.

“The beautiful part of this job is that all the information you need to identify things is on your laptop or iPhone,” Fitch said. “I use WorthPoint all the time. Two days ago, I was looking for values of a Patek Philippe pocket watch with a fusee movement. I found exactly what I needed on WorthPoint. I also found the value of a funky harmonica there. Really, when it comes to the most off-the-wall, unique pieces, so often WorthPoint is where I find the information I need.”

Fitch said she was able to use WorthPoint identify a Chinese imperial chi’fu robe. These robes, depending on condition and color, could sell for as much as $50,000. To find out exactly what this one was worth, Fitch had to turn to an expert in antique Chinese textiles, who said that this chi’fu in red, which signifies a wedding, is worth only about $5,000. 

A Chinese imperial chi’fu robe in red, which signifies a wedding, has been appraised at about $5,000.

Another object that is sure to draw collectors of Chinese antiques is a scroll wall hanging attributed to Wu Li (1632-1718), a landscape painter and poet from the Quin Dynasty, which Fitch had identified by a different specialist in Chinese antiques. A similar Wu Li scroll recently sold for $64,000 at auction at Sotheby’s.

Additionally, Fitch called in experts in Persian rugs, American antiques and furniture, and Chinese pottery and furniture. One pair of carved Chinese rosewood chairs that Fitch thought would be worth $500 each were appraised at $5,000 for the set.

While the house holds all of these exotic items, the sale will be conducted exactly as any other estate sale is run. The first person to pull the tag on an item has first rights to buy it. In addition to all the worldly items on hand, the sale will include all of the housewares and much of the gentleman’s wardrobe, which leans to high-end fashionable.

Among the items to be had in the sale are several pieces of Yemeni silver and coral jewelry.

Pots, bowls and baskets made of various materials and from around the world can be had at the sale.

The sale will include wardrobe items, including 10 pairs of like-new Edward Green shoes, which retail for $800 to $1,500 a pair, and clothing from makers such as Burberry.

The gentleman loved to dress up, Fitch said, and the sale will include things like 10 pairs of like-new Edward Green shoes, which retail for $800 to $1,500 a pair, and clothing from makers such as Burberry.

Martin Codina, who owns Fine Estate Liquidation in San Francisco and who wrote “Liquidating an Estate: How to Sell a Lifetime of Stuff, Make Some Cash, and Live to Tell About It,” is making plans to attend the sale just to see first-hand what’s to be had.

“The absolute breadth of the sale is crazy in its cross-categorical variety. It’s highly unusual, highly eclectic,” said Codina, “I’m going out there just to see it. I like kooky and unusual. The number of African artifacts in that house is amazing. You’d almost have to go into a store specializing in African art to see its equal. If I was specialist, I’d be on a plane to get out there.”


Gregory Watkins is the editor of WorthPoint.com You can e-mail him at greg.watkins@worthpoint.com.

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