S.S. Savannah treasure to stay in city

Posted: 08/22/2011 in all marine news

Chuck Mobley  –

After winning a tightly contested auction Saturday afternoon that finally topped out at $5,500, the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum celebrated the acquisition of the newest nautical treasure in its collection, a wrought-iron table that the czar of Russia presented to the captain of the S.S. Savannah in 1819.

“I overstepped my bounds,” said a beaming Cathy Adler, the president of the museum’s board of trustees.

The double-pedestal table, which has been on loan to the Owens-Thomas House by its owners since the late 1950s, will eventually become part of a new north garden at the Ships of the Sea, Adler said.

The bidding on it came some two and a half hours into the auction at River Street Inn.

“This is such an appropriate location,” said Ann Lemley of Old Savannah Estates, Antiques and Auctions, as she pointed out that the old cotton warehouse had been built in 1817, two years before Capt. Moses Rogers had piloted the S.S. Savannah on the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by a steamship. As bids were taken through the morning on items from several other estates, huge container ships, successors to Rogers and the S.S. Savannah in the Atlantic trade, sailed past the room’s window.

Though it wasn’t in the room — it was too heavy to bring over — the table was the source of constant conversation. Bidding on it started at $2,500, and that represented a phoned-in bid that had been made earlier, said Lemley.

The bids came quickly at the start, but slowed as the figure approached and then topped $5,000. At that point, only Adler and an anonymous phone bidder were left.

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