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Jesse Jones art and antiques, including 19th-century globes and porcelain coffee set, up for auction

Jesse Jones art and antiques, including 19th-century globes and porcelain coffee set, up for auction

A pair of rare, 19th-century globes, a porcelain coffee set and other art and antiques once owned by the late Jesse H. Jones and Mary Gibbs Jones, philanthropists who founded the Houston Endowment, will be part of a virtual auction Oct. 1 by Simpson Galleries.

Ray Simpson, owner of Simpson Galleries, said that the items were once owned by the Joneses — Jesse Jones died in 1956 and Mary died in 1962 — and had become the property of the endowment, which the Joneses established in 1937. Today, the Houston Endowment is the largest private philanthropic foundation in Texas, and while it gives to many organizations, its focus is on the arts, parks, public education and civic engagement.

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Houston Endowment recently finished work on a new building overlooking Spotts Park off Memorial Drive, and couldn’t take everything from their old offices in Chase Tower to the new building, so the items are being auctioned. While the auction will include items from other estates, the proceeds from the Jones collection will benefit the Houston Food Bank.

“This is an opportunity for buyers to collect iconic pieces of cultural and historical significance,” Simpson said of the connection to the Joneses.

The globes, perhaps the most valuable of the Jones items to be sold, date back to around 1816. While they are listed online with a $3,000 minimum and conservative sales estimates of $6,000 to $8,000, Simpson said they could actually fetch much more. Some 20 years ago, he said, a similar pair sold for $60,000 in a Sotheby’s auction.

The Regency-style globes were made by Cary of London, one of the foremost map and globemakers of its time. The firm was founded by brothers John and William Cary in the late 1700s and continued on by John Cary’s sons into the 1800s. 

The porcelain coffee set was given to the Joneses as a wedding gift in 1920 by then-President Woodrow Wilson. There are also paintings, including one of Jesse Jones’ favorite aunt, Louisa Woolard Jones, painted by Emma Richardson Cherry in 1929, and a landscape with bluebonnets by John Barger, titled “Evening Path.”

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There are also a couple of unique bank vaults — Jones’ many enterprises included banking — and one is a large, Diebold Safe and Lock Company model, c. 1930, with numerous compartments.

The auction will be virtual, and bidders can register online at simpsongalleries.com. Winning bids will also be subject to a 22 percent premium fee. Simpson said they’ll take absentee and phone bidding through 713-524-6751.

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