The Americana Collection of the Late Alice S. Reynolds

  • Live Online Auction: Sunday, October 16, at 11:30 PST
  • Online Preview: Through October 16

Turner Auctions + Appraisals is pleased to present the Americana Collection of the late Alice S. Reynolds, plus selected Americana items from other collectors. Offering 180 lots, the online sale features diverse Early American items, many from the first half of the 19th century, including blue-and-white Staffordshire transferware; a selection of pewter; chocolate, candy and ice cream molds from the late 1800s-early 1900s; samplers; and more. Turner Auctions + Appraisals begins its online auction on October 16 at 11:30 am PST; sale items can be previewed online now until the sale starts.  

The late Alice S. Reynolds was a product of New England, a background that fostered a collecting interest in early Americana that lasted more than 60 years. It started when she was still a student at Brown University in the early and mid-1940s, and extended thru the first decade of the 21st century. From Rhode Island, Alice married Myron Reynolds, a PhD student in chemistry, also at Brown, in 1943. Setting up their new household, they went to country auctions and antique shops instead of buying new items, which were scarce in the post-war, baby-boom era. In 1947, the couple moved near Schenectady in upstate New York, which was a prime hunting ground for early American country antiques, said their daughter, Susan Rosenberg of Washington. There the collection grew and expanded to include country Early American furniture from the early 1800s, American pewter, ironstone, wooden kitchen utensils, cast iron tools and more. Thus, they put together a house, a family and a life surrounded by these items of American history.

In the late 1950s, the Reynolds were transferred to the Bay Area. This removed them from easy access to Colonial period antiques, and caused a shift in Alice’s collecting focus to a later historical period and items more available on the West Coast. During the 1970s and 1980s, she developed an interest in chocolate and candy molds, and later an enthusiasm for pewter ice cream molds, ending up with sizable collections of each. She began acquiring American samplers, quilts, and woven coverlets during this period as well.

Alice had always liked Staffordshire blue and white transferware china from the very early 1800s – made in England for the American market – but had acquired only a few pieces prior to the 1990s. As her interest intensified, she began seeking out pieces and building her collection, which included pieces featuring French views, English stately homes, and images of battles of the War of 1812.  

Alice was born in Warren, Rhode Island, a small town near Bristol that was founded in the early 1600s and the original home to Brown University, founded in 1764. She grew up surrounded by Colonial history, which, along with teaching, was a life-long interest – one which infused her collecting aesthetic. She was a teacher in various fields and places – she worked with nursing students in Providence, Rhode Island; elementary school children in New York and California; as a children’s librarian; and was a docent at the Museum of the San Ramon Valley in Northern California. After she retired as a school teacher, she continued to instruct students in the history, design and artistry of the era, teaching programs on Colonial crafts such dipping candles. In the 1990s, she was a key player in the restoration of the Tassajara One-Room School, built in 1889 in Danville, nominated for federal historic designation. It is still used today by school children for historical re-enactments of a typical 1889 school day, and Alice was a schoolmarm in its living history programs. 

Alice’s husband Myron, a skilled amateur cabinetmaker, was a collector in his own right – of history of technology books, early electrical apparatuses and more. Nonetheless, he also “aided, abetted and supported” his wife’s enthusiasms, said Mrs. Rosenberg, and was a good-natured companion on her many antique-hunting forays through the years. Now others can enjoy the fruits of a collection ardently amassed from one coast to another over six decades.

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