Magnolia’s ‘antique lady’ finds second calling

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MAGNOLIA, Ark. (AP) - Bobbie Jennings, Magnolia’s own “antique lady,” has dedicated most of her life to unearthing, studying and selling antiques and collectibles that have been either left behind or forgotten. She is now in her second career dealing with categories of antiques and collectibles covering a wide variety of items, from war memorabilia to ladybug figurines.

Jennings and her husband, Ralph, began holding general auctions shortly after they married. They didn’t at first intend for these to be antique auctions, but after having some antiques brought in one Saturday night, they decided it was the way to go.

“It was exciting and that’s what people wanted, so we decided to start doing antique auctions,” she told The Banner-News (http://bit.ly/MXjK4t).

They began having two auctions a month. Eventually they went to one a month, because it took a lot of preparation to get ready for one.

The Jennings got container loads from London, England, which generated a lot of interest among their customers. They started drawing people in from a 150-mile radius. Shoppers came heavily out of north Louisiana, northeast Texas, Mississippi and surrounding areas.

Her husband’s specialties, besides being the auctioneer, were antique furniture and clocks.

“I guess everything else was mine, because I did the dishes, the glassware, the pottery and the sterling,” Jennings said.

Their children, who were young then, literally grew up in the auctions. The Jennings have two sons and two daughters. At 12-years-old, their oldest daughter, Kathy, wrote the auction tickets as Ralph Jennings auctioned and their oldest son, Jimmy, became an auctioneer.

Bobbie Jennings was the cashier and did the preliminary advertising and the business settlements afterward.

The Jennings had the auctions for more than 40 years, but when her husband died 15 years ago, the family eventually got out of the auction business.

“We kept the auctions going for a few more years, with my oldest son taking over as the auctioneer, but it became more and more difficult for me to manage it all by myself, so we quit the auction business,” Jennings said.

With all those years of experience with antiques and collectible during 40-plus years, she was sought out to speak about antiques and collectibles. She has done this for several clubs, sororities, Sunday school classes and at individual homes.

Everybody would bring one item of their own and, as she said, “try and stump me.” She would identify the items and their value. It would be fun but also educational.

She concluded that since she had all of these experiences and these abilities that she should put them to good use. She decided to do estate sales on her own, never thinking that they would become tremendously popular.

She started out having an occasional auction but the number increased to about one or two per month.

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