Ben Thompson's Hall Stand, ca. 1880
My great-grandfather owned a pawn shop down on what's now West Sixth Street, then known as Pecan Street. And Ben Thompson, a notorious gunman from the Austin area, grew up here. Also had problems with finances, apparently. So quite a bit of his material ended up in my great-grandfather's pawnshop at the time he was killed in San Antonio.
So you're a fifth-generation Austinite, and your family was in business in... It was a smaller city then. And colorful Ben Thompson owned this hall stand. And we know that it's true because it's signed on the back by your great-grandfather, and we can confirm the story because there's lots of literature on Ben Thompson and his possessions being bought by your great-grandfather. Isn't it remarkable to think of Ben Thompson himself adjusting his gun holsters in front of this mirror, picking up his cap and going out, doing the rounds of Austin?
That is if his gun and holster weren't in the pawn shop, as well.
Well, it was a thrill to see this, because it's a, of course, a very interesting Victorian hall stand from the 1880s. Then you began to tell me the history a little bit, about Ben Thompson. He considered Austin his city. You showed me some of the newspaper articles here. When he wasn't in trouble with the law, he was actually running for marshal. He didn't get elected, and the local newspaper says, "Just to prove there were no hard feelings, Ben took to a little celebrating and shot up a saloon, half a dozen sporting houses, and the daily newspaper offices,” left town for a couple of years, and then he was elected marshal.
That's correct, he came back and was elected. So I guess the saying is, "If you can't lick 'em, join 'em." What a wonderful piece of history to see an original, colorful member of the community come here and one of his pieces of furniture survive all of this time-- it's really remarkable. Most Victorian hall stands like this might be $1,000, $1,200, but with this fantastic history of being owned by one of Austin's local, colorful figures from the 1880s, it adds a big premium, and I think it's $3,000 to $5,000, just for the history alone.
All right, thank you very much.
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