The spring season encourages us to clean, to move out the unwanted, and bring in the new. But, in the world of antiques, "new" is just the latest find you bring home to enhance your collection...the latest story of discovery to share with your friends.For some collectors, like the late Stephen Kelley, the best form of "new" was simply adding to one's lifelong collection of American Indian artifacts. A native of Adams County, Kelley learned his ancestral heritage from his grandparents as a youth which, in turn, fueled his passion for artifacts.Kelley's great-grandmother was a full Indian and her son, Kelley's grandfather, proudly half Indian, so the oral tradition among the family was strong. Honoring the past was a given, and Kelley's collection of artifacts was already forming by the time he graduated from Seaman High School in 1967.Kelley's seminal book, "Adams County, Ohio Home of the Serpent Mound," was published in 1978. The book began his 38-year writing career and discussed the now protected, man-made earthwork/effigy (believed to be created between 1000 - 1500 AD) in the shape of an uncoiling serpent which measures about 1,330 feet long.Kelley also served several terms as the president of the Adams County Historical Society. During his tenure, the Adams County Heritage Center was conceived and developed, and it was there that he dedicated himself to preserving local history once again by serving as the president and curator of the Center. He was also the youngest person voted on to the Board of the Ohio Archaeological Society, according to his family.
The March auction of Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers in Delaware will feature approximately 35 pieces of prehistoric pottery from Kelley's personal collection, which date mostly to the Mississippian period, ca.1200-1600, with a great many items from Arkansas, Texas and Illinois.Some highlights of the sale are the effigy pieces, including a carved sandstone effigy pipe, nine and three-quarter inches high, in the form of a kneeling person, ca.1200-1400, from Pike County, Ill. An effigy bottle of a seated woman with painted designs, ca.1400-1600, comes from Center Ridge, Conway County, Ark. The 10 and one-half inch high bottle was previously in the collection of Bill Rowlett (Arkansas) and Richard Meeks.Don't look for a great many Ohio artifacts in this sale. Kelley's family continues to honor him by keeping many of his most cherished Ohio artifacts close to home. Recognizing his place as a big proponent of Ohio history, the family has retained some items for personal display, while loaning and gifting others to local institutions for the continuing education of Ohio residents.Garth's March 31, 2012 auction catalog is completely illustrated online at www.garths.com. Kelley's artifacts can be viewed by going to lot numbers 106-111, 159-163, 167, 174-178, 230-235, 239-243, 308-312, 316 and 408.Garth's, located at 2690 Stratford Road, Delaware, Ohio 43015, will have preview hours in its gallery from March 26-31. For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (740)362-4771