New Jersey News - 1902 - Allaire Auction

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New Jersey News - 1902 - Allaire Auction

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The Auction At Allaire

A Great Crowd Of People At The Deserted Village

All Sorts of Folk Rub Elbows at the Sale of Hal Allaire's Effects-Good Prices Realized-Many Acts of Vandalism

The personal property of the late Hal Allaire was sold at auction last Thursday. The day was very stormy and this may have kept some persons away, but there was a very large crowd present nevertheless. Most of the persons present at the sale were buyers, the storm keeping away many of those who would have gone as spectators.

The house was a disappointment to those who expected to find many articles of great value. There were a number of old pieces of furniture in the house which were undoubtedly antiques, but there was a great deal that was modern. Many of those who attended the auction expected to see a well-kept country residence, filled with fine pictures and books and with handsome furniture of colonial, early Dutch and early French manufacture. The Allaires originally came from France, they being French Huguenots. The house has been represented as having been furnished with fine furniture, brought by the Allaires from France at the time they came to his country, and supplemented with the best examples of colonial furniture and furniture brought over from Holland. There were some fine specimens of colonial and Dutch furniture, but the specimens of French make were very rare. Oliver H. Brown, who was one of Hal Allaire's closest friends and who was probably more familiar with his affairs than any other person, said that Mr. Allaire never tried to keep the old things, but that when any of became broken or worn out it was replaced with furniture of modern make.

The sale had been exceptionally well advertised, and there was brought together a greater assortment of people than one can usually find in an assemblage of any kind in Monmouth county. There were millionaires and their wives from New York, Lakewood and other places, who had come to the sale expecting to pick up fine pieces of antique furniture at trifling prices; there were dealers in all sorts of oddities and antiquities, who were looking for bargains; there were old friends of the Allaire family who had gone to the sale to see the last of the Allaire personal possessions scattered throughout the land and to get some mememto (sic) of the family; there were residents of the locality who attended the sale with the same sense of duty that they attended funerals of neighbors; and there were a number of curiosity seekers, who attended the sale in order to see the inside of the Allaire house and the family possessions, which would probably have been denied to them if the owner had been alive.

The attendance was large enough to crowd the house. Jacob C. Shutts of Shrewsbury was the auctioneer and as he went from room to room to sell the goods, the surging crowd packed the rooms till the people were as close together as smoked herrings in a box. To get in or out of the room was almost impossible until all the things in that room had been sold and the auctioneer moved to another room. It was a good natured crowd, and it took the crowding and pushing good naturedly. Farmers of Howell township in their working clothes were jammed side by side with women in rich furs who had come from Lakewood or New York, and they "jollied" each other about the crowding and about the prices bid for the goods. This good nature was general, though there were a few well-dressed women whose manners were not in keeping with their clothes, who openly railed about the farmers and "hayseeds" who had no money to buy anything, and who were there simply to keep the people who had money from getting near the goods and from seeing what was going on. These cases were few, however, and the bad manners and ill temper in these cases may have been caused by the failure to bid high enough to secure some coveted article.

The highest prices paid for anything were brought by two "grandfather" clocks. One of these had been in possession of the Allaire family over 200 years and it was brought from France in 1738. The history of the clock was written inside the door. This clock had a pine case, and was out of order. It brought $50, but at this price it was a great bargain, as Mr. Allaire had been offered $125 for it last summer. The other tall clock was in better order and had a black walnut case, and it was of much more modern make. This clock brought $72.

Another fine piece of furniture was an old fashioned swell-front sideboard. This went for $47.50. It was not as conveniently arranged as an ordinary ten-dollar sideboard of the present time, and it needed a great deal of fixing to put it in fine order; but it was very cheap if a man cared for that kind of furniture and could afford to put it in good condition. Another old relic was a long sofa. This was perhaps the best thing in the house from a collector's standpoint. It had claw foot legs , front and back, and the front legs had winged supports for the body of the sofa. It was badly broken in one or two places and it would cost from $100 to $150 to properly upholster it and put it in good order. It went for $40, and the man who got it got a treasure, if he is fond of old furniture.

The desk used by Hal Allaire in his office was bought by Oliver H. Brown for $17. Before Mr. Brown had left the place he had sold it for $28, and it was cheap at that price. The large desk used by James P. Allaire in his lifetime, and afterward used by Hal Allaire in the little office room in his residence, was bought by C. H. Boud of Farmingdale for $4. This desk was of antique make, with a bookcase above, and was about the cheapest thing sold at the sale, considering its actual value. A small mahogany desk was bought by a resident of Red Bank for $9.

Mr. Allaire's books were sold with the bookcases and brought big prices. They were kept in the big office. The bookcases were of pine and were of home make, being constructed of two pine uprights, with shelves between, and with a sort of box at the bottom for sorting odds and ends. The books themselves were largely official reports, but there were a number of classic books some of which were translations and some were in the original Greek and Latin text. Most of the books were such as could be picked up at a secondhand book dealer's at five or ten cents each. It had been stated that Mr. Allaire possessed some rare books of great value, but if he did they were not in the bookcases, nor was there any evidence of them about the house. There were four of these bookcases filled with books and they went for more then (sic) $20 each. Edward O'Brien of Oceanic, father of William O'Brien of Red Bank, bought one of them at $21, and J. J. O'Donohue of Shrewsbury bought another at a little above this sum. In Mr. O'Donohue's bookcase was a copy of Ellis's history of Monmouth county, which is worth about $7 at the present time, and there were also one or two books of more than ordinary value, but there was nothing that could be considered rare. There were a few little bundles of books in the house and these also brought big prices.

Many people bought things as a memento of Hal Allaire and of the old village of Allaire. Surrogate David S. Crater bought a lot of small articles which were bunched together. He paid $2 for the lot. A pipe with a stem three feet long, and with a bowl which would hold a quarter of a pound of tobacco, was the chief prize in the collection. This pipe had been made from a stump and twig cut on the Allaire property, and thus was doubly a memento of the place. He also bought a mahogany card table with tilting top, for which he paid $8.

County Clerk McDermott bought Hal Allaire's fishing rod and fishing tackle outfit, which was quite elaborate. He also bought two telescopes. When he went to get his things half of the fishing tackle had been taken by someone and both telescopes were gone. He afterward recovered one of the telescopes.

There was a large amount of silverware, which had been stored in an iron chest. This was sold off piece by piece, except in the case of teaspoons and such like, where a number of pieces were put up at once. Some of it was handsomely fashioned. It brought high prices, though there was no guarantee as to whether it was sterling silver or plated ware. The buyer took his chances on that. Some of the pieces were very beautiful and some was very ordinary in appearance.

A number of the persons who attended the sale were vandals of the worst type. Many small articles were pocketed after they had been sold and before their owners had taken them, and some things were pocketed before they were sold. With such a large number of persons at the sale, and with the large number of rooms in the buildings, it was impossible to keep a proper watch on the articles. A carved ivory pounce box was missing and so was the tip of an elephant's tusk, which was elaborately carved, the base of which had been used as a seal. One woman bought a bureau because in one of the drawers were a number of books which she wanted, and when she took the furniture at night every book had been stolen. Many books were taken from the bookcases in the offices while the sale was going on in other parts of the buildings. In the drawers of a dresser which was sold at a high price were papers, regalia and other things relating to one of the early members of the Allaire family who was a Free Mason. These were stolen from the dresser during the day. It is said they were taken by a Manasquan man who was going to present the stolen articles to his lodge.

The greatest vandalism, however, was in reference to the private papers and letters of the family. The documents relating to the Howell Iron Works had been carefully stored away in boxes and labeled. These papers dated from the time James P. Allaire started the business till the works were closed. During the day these boxes were emptied of their contents and the documents and papers were scattered about the floors of the upper rooms where they were stored. Still worse was the treatment of the private correspondence of Hal Allaire. In a small box in one of the rooms were stored the letters which he had received from the friends of his youth and early manhood. These letters had been carefully arranged by Mr. Allaire, and tied up in packages. Some of these letters were from women whom he had known in his early days. During the day of the sale this box was smashed and the letters stolen. A few loose envelopes from which the letters had been extracted, and some of the letters themselves, were lying about the floor at the day's close, and these were all that remained of this private correspondence of Mr. Allaire's. In another room was a large box filled with the papers of John Cochrane, who had had some connection with the Allaire affairs. This box had been entirely emptied. The papers were rummaged through, and they were left scattered about the floor in great confusion.

Over $1,600 was realized at the sale, which was much more than had been anticipated. The sale was for cash, and by night all but $250 of the money had been paid in. The buyers of articles were allowed until Saturday night to pay for the goods and to take them away and the whole amount was paid in by that time.

Source: Red Bank Register, Wednesday, Feb 5, 1902

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