Office Doubles as Antique Gallery- Article from a 1967 Newspaper about the Collector of some of Antiques Listed for sale
"There are no price tags on the groupings of antiques crowding the gallery of the Semple mansion. No need of price tags where nothing is for sale!
If Sir William Osler is right, that "no man is really happy without a hobby," then this collector has reason to b e happy. And when Osler added that the kind of hobby mattered little, " so long as he straddles a hobby and rides it hard," one knows what he meant by simply peering inside the antebellum house that the City Directory lists tersely as the owner's office at 725 Monroe Street.
This collector has ridden his hobby so hard that one must admirehis resourceful secretary for finding a place in the many roomed, two story mansion for a desk, typewriter table and chair. And none would be more surprised then he, should one ask about price tags. Does one seek retail lables on hobby collections--like stamps or seashells, coins or sloisonne, paintings or porcelains?
Like the true hobbyiest, the monetary value of a single item is a minor consideration, once it is acquired. In the Semple house one will find a priceless piece alongside a worthless one -- worthless that is to any but the proud owner. A rare, ornate Metssen clock is posed on its marble pedestal alongside a cardboard container of giveaway ballpoint pens. A beautiful pair of sterling silver, hand-hammered peacocks stand protecivly over an assortment of pottery figurines from the dime store.
The faniciful fretwork of the twin-parlors'frieze, that once looked down on the leisurely luxury of life in the Deep South, under a slave econmy, might consciously be a little confused today. The articulate cornice might b a little like the wag who read the dictionary, finding the subject changed to often to hold interest. There are that many antiques crowding these rooms.
There's a loveseat that belonged to a lonely, frightened woman, a wartime American spy from Soviet Russia, spending her last years hiding in Montgomery from communist vengeance. There's a pretty sewing table returned to this home when he bought it. An orginal piece that was here when the Semple mansion was young, it was a gift from Mrs. Hill, whose mother had bought it many years before.
The oriental carpet and heavy silk drapes had spent a hundred years on the floor and at the windows of a New England mansion, before this collector had bought them and brought them here. The towering Meissen clock also came from the East, a part of her fathers New York estate, inherited years ago. And the square ebony piano once graced an early home in Montgomery.
There are hundreds of birds- porclain and pottery, iron and wood, silver and crystal- in ceiling high cases; sofas and chairs, pianos and music boxes, paintings and lithographs, in fabulous frames. But significant interest is the assortment of mantle pieces and fireplaces.
They are significant because they are one part of his collector's collection that were once put to practical use. Maybe he doesn't even remember why he accuired them first, whether just because he liked them or with a use in mind. But the fact remains that, in depths of the Great Depression when the decorative features of razed residences might he had, at least, for carting them away,; at most, for a song. he did a lot of singing! His acquisitions, in any event are incorporated today in some of Montgomery's more pretentious homes, including his own.
Maybe this collector does hide his light under a bushel--of antiques, that is. His friends in Montgomery are numerous enough, but in Birminham he'd probaly be introduced as the brother of Mrs. Marcus (Yutch) McClellan; in St. Louis as the brother of Mr. Hugh McCulloch, whose husband, a celebrated pediatrician, has now retired to Montgomery; and in Baltimore in particular and anywhere in the world generally, he might be introduced as the brother -in- law of the late H. L. Mencken.”