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Dryden auction house sells eclectic mix of merchandise

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Worth Asset Brokerage business manager Kim Gazzo places a Civil War-era bugle on a shelf Thursday in the auction house at the Route 13 business in Dryden.

A 600-year-old book; a painting by one of the 20th century’s most popular artists; and a bell used in a program during the Civil War are among the items typically auctioned off at Worth Asset Brokerage.

The business on Dryden Road, which began in January 2005 as NBA made the move to 2085 Dryden Road in July and assumed the new name, said Business Manager Kimberly Gazzo. The business holds two types of auctions, a book auction and a worth auction.

Book auctions, about 26 a year, simply auction off books and tend to bring around five to 10 people, chiefly collectors and dealers, to each auction, Gazzo said. “We have a book auction roughly every other week.”

The worth auctions, which are done once or twice a month, include the other items the business takes in — art, antiques, autographs, guns, swords, almost anything. “We’ve sold a lot of very valuable guitars,” Gazzo said. “We had a Gibson Guitar that went for $3,500 or something like that.”

The worth auctions bring around 30 to 50 people, Gazzo said.

The company has sent members of its 14-person staff to many places for items and auctions, including Los Angeles and Texas.

The catalogers, photographers, art and book experts, historians and auctioneers spend about 120 hours on any one auction from start to finish, Gazzo said.

In any given week, Gazzo said there can be around five auctions in play. That includes picking items up, cataloging items for auction, shipping purchased items from previous auctions and setting up the show rooms.

The minimum limit of value of an item the business will auction is $100 and there is no maximum value, Gazzo said.

Fine Art and Special Collections Director Evan D. Williams said there is no typical type of art sold at auction. One famous piece of art sold at the auction house was a Big Eye painting by Margaret Keane, Williams said. Keane’s work was featured in the 2014 movie Big Eyes, a drama about Keane’s awakening as a painter, her success in the 1950s and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who took credit for her work in the 1960s. The film was directed by Tim Burton and starred Amy Adams as Keane and Christoph Waltz.

Some of the oldest items the auction house has sold are emblem books from the 15th and 16th centuries, Gazzo said. The books resemble page-a-day devotional books.

The youngest items were in the first auction at the Dryden Road location, and included furniture from Steven’s Heritage Furniture, which used to occupy the location, Gazzo said. “Half the auction was brand-new items.”
From there the newest items include a two-carat diamond bracelet.

On March 12, the business hosted a Civil War auction, which led to some of the oddest items the business has seen.
Among the Civil War items, a bell used by the United States Camel Corps during the war, Gazzo said — yes, there was a camel corps, operating between 1855 and 1866. Other items included a field surgeon’s kit and amputation kit.

One of the strangest items however, a brass-like syringe with some rubber tubing sat in a wood box. It was a Civil War enema kit, Gazzo said.

“We say pencil to airplanes,” Gazzo said. “We have literally sold a pencil.”

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