Don Presley Hosts Large and Lively Crowd at Feb. 5-6 Auction of Inventory From Stephen-Thomas Antiques

March 15th, 2011 by

SANTA ANA, Calif. – Over the weekend of Feb. 5-6, 2011 – Super Bowl weekend – auctioneer Don Presley conducted a $598,000 on-site sale of the remaining inventory of Steven-Thomas Antiques and Interiors, which closed its doors after 32 years in the same Orange County gallery. Operated by brothers-in-law Steven Shedd and Thomas Silk – hence the name “Steven-Thomas” – the company was known for its skill in redesigning and repurposing imported Italian and French antiques for functional use in today’s homes. All prices quoted in this report are inclusive of a 15% buyer’s premium.

Bronze and onyx table with gilt griffins forming its base, $11,500. Don Presley Auctions image.

“It was a great result, especially considering it was a ‘brown furniture’ sale. It absolutely surpassed all expectations, both for myself and the consignors,” said auctioneer Don Presley. “Both Steven and Thomas were very pleased that it was a clean sweep and that they could now get the premises ready for the computer assembly company that bought their building.”

The 1,100 lots of furniture offered at the event– all without reserve – included complete bedroom suites, buffets, hall trees, dressers and chests, Louis XV and XVI mirrors, china cabinets, and dining tables with complete sets of 6, 8 and 10 chairs. Additionally, there are bookcases, desks, Renaissance-style trestle tables, kitchen cupboards and coffee tables re-crafted as unique “fantasy” pieces.

The top furniture lot of the sale was a tasteful bronze and onyx table whose base consisted of three gilt griffins with fully spanned wings. The table opened at $4,000 and landed near the top of its estimate range at $11,500.

19th-century king-size custom walnut bed inlaid with pearl and ivory, $8,625.

An imposing 19th-century king-size custom walnut bed, luxuriously inlaid with pearl and ivory, measured 7ft. 11in. long. The ornately carved furnishing embellished with substantial bronze hardware was bid to $8,625.

A circa-1880 Italian carved walnut Mannerist buffet, 88½ inches tall by 96 inches wide, was a good buy at $6,440; as was the carved oak staircase that once graced the Russian Consulate in Milan, Italy. Featuring 35 turned posts and 20 steps, the unit sold for $6,900.

Several elegant European light fixtures found favor with the crowd, including a matching pair of antique Lalique bronze chandeliers with pearl drops, crystal beads and decorative nymphs, which sold together for $12,650. A French Neoclassical bronze chandelier with 12 lights, crystal-enhanced bronze chains and images of cherubs in relief garnered $11,500.

Presley said auction purchases were divided “about 50/50” between the Internet and the room. “All 200 chairs were occupied, and it was standing room only beyond that. People were jumping up and clapping, and everyone was having a good time,” Presley said. “There were some who had thought the conflict with the Super Bowl might kill us, but that was hardly the case. We planned on catering for 250 people during the Sunday session, but there were 300 to 400 in attendance. The caterer had to go back and restock.”

French Neoclassical 12-light bronze chandelier with crystal and bronze chains, $11,500. Don Presley Auctions image.

Presley said he was most surprised by the prices paid for sets of chairs presented without their matching tables. “Ordinarily, those sorts of things are a tough sell, but we must have sold more than a dozen sets,” the auctioneer said. “Also, I was surprised that six-drawer chests brought $4,000 to $5,000 apiece, and one piece of molding consisting of two little panels with a gargoyle made $1,700. That was a big price for something so small.”

At the other end of the size spectrum, the prospect of paying for shipment of grand-scale European furnishings did not seem to deter absentee buyers. Presley said many monumental pieces were shipped to Russia, Canada and China.

The turnout and bidder enthusiasm for the auction of the remaining inventory of Steven-Thomas Antiques has made Don Presley optimistic about the future. “There was a great energy at the auction, just like we had for our New Year’s sale,” he said. “Having two sales in a row like that suggests that maybe the economy is getting better.”

Don Presley Auctions is planning an April auction of antiques, furniture and jewelry, with a date to be announced soon. Contact the auctioneer by calling 714-633-2437. Visit Don Presley Auctions online at