Auction Watch – Items of Alexandria’s History meet the gavel


A dining table reputed to have been the setting of an important incident in Alexandrias Civil War history is one of the featured historic Alexandria items auctioned off at The Potomack Company last Saturday, April 5.

Among the objects from Alexandrias past which met the auctioneer’s gavel were stoneware jugs manufactured in the mid-1800s by local merchants H.C. Smith, E. J. Miller & Co.; books on Alexandria and Virginia history; prints of Confederate generals and a framed Confederate Bill.

Prominent Alexandria businessman James Albert English was living at 220 South Royal Street on May 24, 1861, when Union troops entered and took over the city at the outset of the Civil War. On that day, Union officer Col. Elmer Ellsworth removed a Confederate flag made by local ladies to fly from the top of the Marshall House Hotel on King Street.

The hotels proprietor, James Jackson, shot and killed Ellsworth for committing such an odious insult and was himself promptly killed by Union soldiers the first fatalities of the Civil War. English signed the death certificates in his role as Justice of the Peace.

According to family legend related by Englishs descendants, he later that day received a delegation of Union officers at his Royal Street house demanding the Key to the City. As they sat around the dining table that will be sold on Saturday, English turned over the key under protest. The dining table has remained in the same family ever since that historic moment.

Among the other art and antique items sold were an eclectic collection of framed childrens book illustration art from a variety of artists, including Michael Hague from The Velveteen Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland , Wendall Minor from Sierra, Gennady Spirin from Boots and the Glass Mountain,  Lucy Cousins from Maisy, and Nonny Hogrogian from The Cats Midsummer Jamboree and Carrot Cake.