- Associated Press - Monday, March 17, 2014

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 (https://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.

“As I drive around Magnolia I believe there aren’t many streets that I haven’t done a house sale on,” Jennings said.

As a rule Jennings doesn’t advertise or solicit her estate sale services. All of her sales come to her from recommendations.

“One of the most interesting and unusual sales that I ever did was W.P Florence Jr.’s mother’s home,” Jennings said.

W.P. Florence Jr, a well-known movie theater owner in Magnolia, cared for his mother, Mary Florence, who was a widow. Jennings said that when his mother died away, it was almost like he locked the doors to the house and walked away. The house stood there closed up for years, and suffered from considerable structural damage.

After W.P. Florence died, Farmers Bank and Trust contacted Jennings to see if she would inspect the house to see if anything was salvageable.

Jennings said that because she is frightened of spiders and bugs and has an abnormal fear of snakes, she was afraid she would have to decline.

She told the bank’s representative, “I hate to turn you down, but I have a horrible fear of snakes.”

The representative proposed that she go just into the doorway, to see if she could see anything from there. “So not wanting to be a wimp about it, I agreed to it,” she said.

“I don’t know what kept that house and that furniture in that good of shape, considering that there was considerable damage to the house,” she said. “From where I was standing I saw the finest oak curved glass china cabinet I had ever seen, and many other valuable items.”

To help her, the bank representatives who accompanied her proposed that they rent a dumpster and hire some high school students to drive a truck to the back door, so she could sit on the porch and say whether items were to be kept or thrown away.

For the next few days she sat on the porch and determined the value of the items. “He had kept every toy he ever had since the time he was a baby,” Jennings said. “He kept a little bit of everything from over the years.

“It was the most interesting and diversified sale I have ever seen,” she said.

Nearly 1 1/2 years ago she thought her estate sales might be over when she unexpectedly had to have double bypass heart surgery.

Her doctor released her to go back to work on the terms that she didn’t stress herself or try to lift heavy objects.

The doctor told her that he knew her and that he knew that she would be at her happiest and healthiest if she was working.

“I take a lot of pride in what I do. I take the time to get to know each client and they me,” she said.

As a collector herself, she is fond of cardinal figurines and collectibles and one of her hobbies is feeding birds. “I feed everything from crows, blue jays to sparrows, just to court the cardinals.”

Jennings said that if she has any advice concerning antiques, it pertains to old photographs, especially those of family members.

“Young people get these pictures from their parents or grandparents and they don’t have any idea who the people in them are,” Jennings said.

“So I believe that it is really important to list the names of those people in the photographs, so that future generations would know who they are. People don’t think about doing this much and it’s important.”


Information from: The Banner-News, https://www.bannernews.net

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide