Decorative Arts Sale Featuring The Collectin of Russel & Eleanor Gohn, York, Pennsylvania (Lots 1-663), The Estate of Virginia Whitely Thornton, York, Pennsylvania (Lots 664-752), The Collection of Charlene Sussel, Garrett Park, Maryland (753-912), and The Estate of Tremayne Selig, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (913-1105). Realized Total: $838,327, 100% sold, 1106 lots. Russel G. Gohn was an enterprising and debonair young man of 23 when he met his future wife at Penn State University in 1936. In his own words, “The freshman dorm for girls downtown needed excitement, so we arranged Victrola Dances at their dorm and GUESS WHAT! There I met Eleanor “Buzz” Acker - great dancer - great kid - thought maybe something would come of this...!” It was the beginning of a love affair that would last 71 years! Russ, born in Iowa in 1913, was raised by his beloved adoptive parents, Jacob W. and Helen H. Gohn in York County, PA. He was President of the Junior Leaders Corps of the YMCA when he graduated from William Penn Senior High School in 1931. After graduation, he and a buddy headed west in a Model A Ford Roadster, saving money by parking at night near a railroad station and sleeping, one on each side of the fender and running board of the Model A. They worked their way across the country, and upon arriving in South Dakota, met an unusual sculptor named Gutzon Borglum who was carving a face on a mountain! They sharpened drill bits for him in exchange for food and tent lodging, and watched in fascination as he worked on the partially completed face of George Washington, the first phase of Mt. Rushmore. Returning to York from this trip filled with tales of his many adventures such as working as a lifeguard in Estes Park, CO, young Russ soon left to find a job in New York City to earn money for college. He was hired as a runner at the New York Stock Exchange, the beginning of his lifelong passion for the world of finance. He remembered being at the “Brass Rail” on 42nd St. the night Prohibition ended, going to “Cab Calloway’s Cotton Club” in Harlem, and dancing at the “Roseland Ballroom” in Times Square. After saving enough money to pay the first year’s tuition, Russ headed to Penn State in 1934. He continued to earn his way though school selling real silk hosiery to coeds, sandwiches to hungry students in their dorms after curfew, corsages for all-school dances, and also booking bands for the fraternity houses at $25.00 per booking. Eleanor Buzby Acker was born in West Chester, PA in 1917, and grew up with her younger sister, Jane, and brother, Norman, in Paoli, PA. Her father, George Norman Acker, sold customized mill work for the grand homes along the Main Line near Philadelphia, and would often take her along as he visited with his clients. As a result, she learned to read blueprints and developed a strong sense of style and design at a very young age. This experience would stand her in good stead as she worked with an architect and contractors to design and build a beautiful Colonial Georgian home in York, PA with Russ in the mid-1950’s. Her mother, Ella Buzby Acker, was a warm-hearted, wonderful woman about whom a cat was inscribed on the back gate of their yard by the hobos who were prevalent in the area during the Depression. This symbol notified others that a “kind lady” lived in the house who would provide a sandwich or a glass of water to anyone in need. Eleanor spent blissful summers at the family beach house in Cape May, NJ. The three children took turns inviting friends to spend the weekend with them at the shore, so they were definitely popular in Paoli! Because the house was located directly on the beach, Eleanor remembered wonderful days filled with swimming in the surf and building monumental sand castles; then dancing the night away in the ballroom on the boardwalk. To earn spending money for all of their activities, Eleanor and her sister waited tables at a local Cape May hotel. Having excelled in high school as both a scholar and student leader, Eleanor was awarded a full, four-year scholarship to Penn State upon her graduation, a definite rarity for a young woman in 1935! Russel danced his way into Eleanor’s heart, and they were married on December 29, 1939. Russ needed to report back within days to the sales job he had at the time with Proctor and Gamble, so they spent a brief honeymoon weekend in Williamsburg, VA. (In 1939, only six structures of what would later be known as Colonial Williamsburg had been restored.) It was here that they were captivated by the allure of antiques, and vowed to one day have a collection of their own. After being stationed at Fort Pierce, FL, where Russ served as a naval officer during WWII with the Underwater Demolition Team (later to be known as the Navy SEALS), they moved to York, PA with their young daughter, Barbara, and started their antique collection. Their second daughter, Marjorie, soon arrived, and they began to attend local antique auctions, sales, and shows as a family. Their daughters learned both to appreciate antiques and not to gesture with their hands while their parents were in the midst of bidding on an item at an auction! The Gohns became regular visitors at York County antique shops, and counted many dealers among their closest friends. Since Russ enjoyed a long and wonderful career with the Philadelphia Life Insurance Company starting in 1947, every business trip to Philadelphia provided an excuse to stop at favorite antique stores along the way. Not only were Russ and Eleanor smitten with both the beauty and workmanship of fine antiques, but they were also particularly enthralled with the history behind each piece. They loved to imagine the craftsman who created it, and the first owner who treasured it. Did an adoring new husband show his love for his bride by hand carving this corner cupboard for their home? Who waited anxiously on the dock for this English or Chinese porcelain to be unloaded from a schooner when it was brand new? How many hours did a sailor spend painstakingly carving this whale’s tooth as he dreamed of the birds, flowers, and loved ones at home? To Russ and Eleanor, each item in their collection had a mesmerizing story to tell. For nearly 65 years, the Gohns enjoyed searching for fabulous examples of 18th and 19th century artistry both in the United States and on their many trips throughout the world. They delighted in sharing their collection with others in their Williamsburg-inspired home, and displayed their passion for antiques, history, and living life to the fullest through their lifetime of dynamic community involvement in their beloved hometown of York, PA. May you experience the love that Russel and Eleanor felt for each other and for all of their treasures as you enjoy each piece of their collection! -The Heirs of Russel G. and Eleanor A. Gohn
See printed catalog.
See printed catalog.