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Massive Estate of ‘The Antiques Lady’ of Eupora, Miss., to be Auctioned

by Special to WorthPoint (04/01/13).

Earlene Bowen, seen here in an undated photo, had a keen eye for wonderful pieces and her love of antiques spanned many eras of furniture. The contents of her estate will be offered without reserve (everything sells, regardless of price) over the course of three days on back-to-back weekends—April 6 and April 12-13—in a sale hosted by Stevens Auction Company.

EUPORA, Miss. – The massive and prodigious estate of Ms. Earlene S. Bowen, known affectionately as “the Antiques Lady” until her recent passing at age 95, will be offered without reserve (everything sells, regardless of price) over the course of three days on back-to-back weekends—April 6 and April 12-13—by Stevens Auction Company, based in Aberdeen, Miss. Ms. Bowen’s entire estate—complete and untouched since the time of her death—will be sold.

The auction will be held on-site, at Ms. Bowen’s property in Eupora, Miss., a small and quaint town in central Mississippi, located north of Jackson and south of Memphis, Tenn. It is there that Ms. Bowen for years operated Bowen’s Antiques, which wasn’t so much a store as it was a veritable antiques village, with 10 buildings plus a brick residence all on one tract of land.

The address is 14511 U.S. Highway 82 in Eupora (zip code for GPS: 39744).

“This will be an old-fashioned country auction for an old-fashioned country lady,” said Dwight Stevens, the sale’s auctioneer and a longtime friend of Ms. Bowen. “There will be no Internet bidding, and because there are so many lots and limited reception, there will be no phone bidding as well.”

This Rosewood rococo etagere with white marble top and oval carvings on the doors, stands 71 inches tall and is one of many pieces of furniture available in the auction.

This Mahogany Empire gentleman’s wardrobe with mirror in center over drawers stands 90 inches tall. It is another example of the type of furniture available.

Absentee bids will be accepted at open house preview only, scheduled for Friday, April 5, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CST), and April 11, also from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“Ms. Bowen had a keen eye for wonderful pieces,” Stevens said, “and her love of antiques spanned many eras of furniture, including Southern primitive as well as Federal, Victorian, Empire and Eastlake antiques. Her inventory also included beautiful porcelains, fine china, antique lamps, original works of art and many hundreds of rare and collectible items.

“When you went to visit Earlean at her shop, everything was for sale—including the jewelry she was wearing and the bed she slept in,” Stevens added. “If someone wanted to buy, she would figure out a way to make a sale happen. She also prepared a full dinner every day, with various meats and two or three different desserts. She’d feed pretty much anyone who came by.

“I had the privilege of knowing Earlean Bowen, as did many other fortunate folks, and I would be hard-pressed to name a person who was more loved or full of life than she was,” Stevens continued. “She attended many of my auctions and even though she was a dealer, it was the buying that excited her, the hunt. She died this past November, just shy of her 96th birthday.”

Bowen’s Antiques was not an overnight success story, nor was Earlean Bowen a lifelong player in the antiques business; far from it. Born in Eupora, she worked at the Montgomery Ward store there for years before getting a job at the Mississippi State Department of Welfare as manager of the state’s food stamps program. But she always fancied antique furniture items.

In 1957, with $10,000 and a dream to get into the business, Earlean launched Bowen’s Antiques, initially as a home-based venture. Parlaying her love of Empire pieces, old Southern furniture, primitives, Americana, china, crystal and jewelry into a bulging inventory, Ms. Bowen had, by age 85, amassed an inventory worth about $1 million. And she was just hitting her stride.

“At an age when most people are well into retirement and taking life easy, Ms. Bowen was out there, charging around the country, buying new pieces and making new contacts,” said Stevens. “At age 90 she had a six-man crew and several trucks. She was just this unbelievable powerhouse of energy. People in many states knew her as ‘the Antiques Lady.’”

This beautiful mahogany Chippendale china cabinet on 15-inch ball-and-claw feet, satnds 77 inches tall.

This striking and unusual mahogany Empire secretary desk features fret work in the doors and open at the bottom.

She finally did slow down, however, in her 90s and sold off a good bit of inventory in the process. One thing she never missed, though, was the Governor’s Inaugural Ball, an event Ms. Bowen got invited to every four years, having made political connections at her government job. Last year, at 95, she danced with the Governor of Mississippi, for what was to be the last time.

Since the auction is an on-site country sale, buyers are encouraged to bring their trucks to remove their items as quickly as possible. Refreshments will be available on auction days. The sale will be held rain or shine, as Stevens Auction Company is providing large circus tents and ample seating for the anticipated throngs. A healthy turnout is expected, so plan to arrive early.

Terms will be cash, major credit cards and pre-approved checks. A 15-percent buyer’s premium will be charged on the total purchase price, with a 2 percent processing fee for credit cards. A 7-percent sales tax will be charged on all merchandise sold (except for bidders with a valid state resale number). Out-of-state buyers must show a copy of their current tax certificate.

Hundreds of photos are on view at the Stevens Auction website A color brochure can be obtained by calling 662.369.2200 or e-mailing stevensauction@bellsouth.net.

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