Harrisburg’s artifacts to be sold during 8-day auction in July

The New York auction house selected to sell Harrisburg's collection of historic artifacts is planning to hold an eight-day auction at several venues around the city in mid-July.

Mayor Linda Thompson made the announcement Thursday while showing off some of the artifacts, adding it is estimated that thousands of collectors will visit the city during the auction.

Guernsey's auction house was selected last month by Thompson to market and sell the collection, which includes at least 8,000 artifacts from Colonial times, the Wild West and Civil War eras, and other periods in American history.

The city initially said the collection would be sold in Harrisburg, New York, and over the Internet.

Guernsey's CEO Arlan Ettinger said the company has just begun the process of inventorying and identifying the pieces, but has already come across “many treasures.” He called the collection “an extraordinary group of wonderful artifacts in a variety of collection categories.”

Ettinger, who joined Thompson at the news conference, said the collection is worth millions of dollars.

“People are already asking to be on the mailing list, to know how and when it will be held,” he said. “As an early signal of how this is going to unfold, that was extraordinary. It just doesn't happen that way.”

The auction house will get a percentage of the gross sale. The rest of the proceeds will go toward paying off city debt.

Former Mayor Stephen Reed spent more than $8 million over several years collecting artifacts for Wild West, African American, and sports museums that were never built.

The city auctioned about 3,000 pieces in 2007 for $1.4 million dollars, but the remainder of the collection has been in storage.

The city last year also received a cash award of $450,000 in an out-of-court settlement with the estate of a New Mexico vendor who was accused of selling Reed some non-authentic artifacts.

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