At a Towson auction house Thursday and Saturday, several striking artifacts of Baltimore and Maryland history, including an oil portrait of Declaration of Independence signer Charles Carroll of Carrollton, an early-19th-century view of the city’s skyline and a ceremonial sword presented to Battle of Baltimore hero Samuel Smith, will be sold to the highest bidder.
The auction items, which also includes an unsigned 52-by-39-inch oil painting of one of the city’s favorite sons, Edgar Allan Poe, were for years housed at the Whitehall Estate in Annapolis. They are among more than 200 items being sold off to help pay for restoration and maintenance of the mansion there, which dates to 1764 and was the home of Horatio Sharpe, governor of the Maryland colony from 1753-1769.
The mansion and 135 acres of grounds is now used as a wedding and events venue.
Among the most striking items, and perhaps the most historically significant, is the sword. Thirty-six inches long, with a carved mother-of-pearl grip, brass eagle blade guard and a brass scabbard, it is engraved, “From the Committee of Vigilance and Safety and the grateful citizens of Baltimore to Maj. General Samuel Smith for his gallant defense of the city September 12-13, 1814.”
Smith, a lieutenant colonel in the Maryland Militia during the American Revolution, was in charge of local forces that fought off the British in 1814. He also served in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives; Smith last held elective office as the ninth mayor of Baltimore, from 1835-1838.
The sword has an estimated value of $10,000-$20,000.
Also of considerable historical significance is the small (10.75 x 8.75 inches) Rembrandt Peale portrait of Carroll, with the original receipt taped to the back (it cost the 1810 purchaser $150; auction officials have estimated its value at $3,000-$5,000). Another oil on canvas, about 14 x 18 inches, is attributed on the frame to William H. Bartlett and is titled, “Baltimore City from Whetstone Point (The Constantinople View).” It has an estimated value of $10,000-$20,000.
The auction items are from the estate of Charles Scarlett, a chairman of Ramsay, Scarlett & Co. Inc., a Baltimore-based shipping company. He purchased Whitehall in 1946 and spent much of his life restoring the mansion to its original appearance, even removing a second story that had been added.
Mr. Scarlett died in 1997; his second wife, the former Marie E. duPont-Levering, died in 2008.
Auction sessions are scheduled for noon Oct. 4 and 10 a.m. Oct. 6 at Alex Cooper Auctioneers, 908 York Road in Towson.