First David Berry estate sale is Saturday

J. H. Osborne • Nov 22, 2019 at 7:49 AM

KINGSPORT  — The late David “Doc” Berry was well-liked and well-known, first and foremost as a pharmacist. Secondly, perhaps, he was most known as an antique automobile enthusiast. And a lot of folks knew he collected both automobile- and pharmacy-related memorabilia.

But the first sale from Berry’s estate — auctioneer Kimball Sterling said earlier this week he expects to hold four to six sales to maximize the results — will make evident that Berry “had a great eye” for all things collectible, Sterling said.

“This Saturday, the sale at the house (2484 Wildwood Drive in Preston Forest) is going to be a hodgepodge of a lot of great stuff,” Sterling said. “There’s a little bit of everything he had.”

Some highlights: more than 2,000 vintage toys; a “very rare, very sough after” antique dental cabinet; a “great” corner cupboard; two Lalique crystal hood ornaments; local memorabilia; pocketknives; silver coinage; an arrowhead collection (“They’re all points, all framed, and most are local”); antique bottles; multiple mortar and pestle sets; antique thermometers (“including an Ex-Lax one that’s hard to come by”); Mason & Dixon items; Sarouk carpet; quilts; Hummel figurines; and clocks and old radios.

“If anyone else was conducting this sale, I’d be on the front row buying,” Sterling said.

The sale will also include general household items and furniture (antique and recent).

The “house” auction will begin at 10 a.m. under a tent in the front yard. A preview of items will be available from 9 a.m. until the start of the sale. The toys, arranged in lots in 250 auction flats, will be sold beginning at 1 p.m. under a tent in the back yard. A preview of the toys begins at noon. Sterling warned that anyone caught rearranging toys in the flats will be banned from the auction.

Sterling said future auctions, for which dates have not been set, will be held with specific focuses on Berry’s collections of antique automobile parts; another 3,000 higher-end toys; and pharmacy cabinets, displays and other related items.

The best of all Berry’s “stuff” will be sold on New Year’s Day at Sterling’s auction house in Johnson City. Sterling, who handled the estate of author Alex Haley and, closer to home, auctioned off the contents of Skoby’s Restaurant, traditionally holds an auction on New Year’s Day. It usually includes fine, select pieces from various estates.This year, Sterling said, it will be solely devoted to the cream of Berry’s collection. That will include Berry’s 1935 LaSalle Speed Roadster and his 1927 Ford (with a 283 Chevrolet engine), Sterling said, as well as Berry’s collections of  automobile “mascots” (that’s a hood ornament to most of us) and emblems (those are insignia that once graced the radiator grills on antique automobiles). Sterling said both cars run well, and Berry’s “vast” mascot collection numbers at least 100. The emblem collection, Sterling said, includes 500 or more, all framed. “It’s the best (emblem) collection, I bet, that anybody’s seen outside of a museum.”

The New Year’s Day sale, which will include the opportunity for online bidding, also will include some of the “better” pharmacy cabinets and items and “very premier” toys, Sterling said.

“This is the the biggest bunch of stuff I’ve ever seen in one estate,” Sterling said, noting his 40 years experience. “I’ve never seen so many categories in one estate in my life. He was a collector. But he also was an accumulator. Early on I think his focus was on collecting automobile-related items. And he spread out from there. Once he got to where he liked to accumulate, he collected a lot of different stuff. He had a great eye that created this unbelievable collection.”

For more information and photos, visit www.auctionauction.com.