Collection of Ernest Hemingway’s personal belongings going on auction block in Maryville
BY Melanie Tucker | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Some rare pieces of history stored for years in a barn in East Tennessee are making their debut in Maryville in what could be the biggest auction this state has seen in a very long time.
The items, over 150 of them, were part of famed writer Ernest Hemingway’s personal belongings. They include swords, hats, darts, a matador suit, cape, bull’s tail and other bullfighting memorabilia Hemingway collected during his visit to Pamplona, Spain in 1959, as well as his own collection of books, letters, flask, paintings and never-before-seen photographs.
Terry’s Furniture and Auction will be responsible for overseeing the collection in an auction at this East Broadway business, slated to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. A preview of Hemingway’s things will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Terry’s. The public is invited.
Just how did items cherished by this Nobel and Pulitzer prize winner get here? By way of a resident of this community whose mother, Beatrice Walker, was a companion of Hemingway’s during his nine-month stay in Spain more than 50 years ago. Walker died in December 2006.
Walker’s daughter wishes to remain anonymous and wasn’t interviewed for this story.
Carl Sloan has been in the antique business for 30 years and helped Terry and Cissy Allen, of Terry’s Auction, sort through and catalog this immense collection.
After getting a peek at the collection, Sloan read accounts written about Hemingway’s trip to Spain for Life magazine. The author was asked to write about two famous matadors there.
“I knew what everybody else knows about Hemingway, but I took it a step further,” Sloan explained.
On that trip in 1959, Hemingway stayed with Bill Davis, Beatrice Walker’s ex-husband, and spent time with her. There is one photo of Hemingway and Walker with one of the matadors, a photograph that has never been seen before, Sloan said. Life magazine photographers were there, but nowhere in that collection does a photograph exist of Walker.
It isn’t known who took the photos in this personal collection. It is speculated some of them might have been taken by a photographer to the bullfighters.
Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Ill. and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1961 in Idaho. Sloan said some of his belongings ended up in Havana, Cuba where Hemingway had a home. Some things are housed in the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West. Fla. His fourth wife, Mary Welsh, gave his papers to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
And now there is this collection.
NEVER FOR SALE
“It has never been up for sale before,” Cissy Allen explained. “You can look high and low on the Internet and never find anything like this. These are personal items.”
Cissy Allen said Walker’s daughter approached her several months ago about selling the items, which will all go to the highest bidders. There are no reserves set on any of them.
There are about a dozen photographs in the collection, a bullfighting card signed by Hemingway, and a 12th century shape note parchment. Sloan’s favorite item is a set of coasters from the Ritz Carlton in Madrid, where Hemingway stayed.
The auction has been advertised heavily and the Allens expect to draw a lot of interest from admirers of Hemingway and the curious.
“We will have some serious collectors as well as people who just love Hemingway,” Cissy said.
Naturally this valuable collection has been under lock and key in an undisclosed location since the Allens obtained them. They have spent hundreds of hours getting ready for the Saturday sale. Terry said this will be the most interesting and rare collection he’s ever sold.
“We are the only people in the world to have this,” he said. “To have this right here in Blount County, right here in Maryville. That’s unheard of.”