Freeman's

About Us

FreemansFreeman’s auction house services clients in the buying and selling of fine art, antiques, and jewelry. With international experience and comprehensive knowledge of market conditions, the specialists at Freeman’s, work closely with consigners and collectors to offer unparalleled service in the sale and purchase of fine art, antiques, jewelry, books and more.  A combination of skillful marketing strategies and a team of leading authorities in the auction business make Freeman’s an ideal environment for handling unique items, collections, and estates for corporations, private collectors, and museums.

A family run business since 1805, Freeman’s holds tradition close, yet a progressive mind-set towards marketing and promotion, along with access to a team of top experts in the auction business, highlights us as the ideal platform for consignors. And now with offices in New England, the Midwest, the Southeast, and on the West Coast, it has never been easier for clients to connect with auction house experts. America’s oldest auction house is your local connection, wherever you are, to the international art market.

The marketing team at Freeman's matches is enterprising and thorough, working tirelessly to ensure each client’s dynamic experience.  Freeman’s recently launched its Collections Department, which focuses on the sales of large collections through intimate client and company rapport. In addition, our Trusts & Estates department offers services for the liquidation of estates: clean sweep management with competitive consignment rates, timely reporting, and settlement and professional services. And Freeman’s Museums Services department assists institutions seeking collections and individual works.

 Headquartered on Chestnut Street in the heart of Philadelphia, Freeman’s offers over 30 live in-house auctions a year, in categories such as fine and modern art, furniture and decorative arts ranging from Pennsylvania Folk Art to Asian antiquities,  jewelry, rare books and manuscripts,  Oriental rugs, silver, and more.  

Our History

Tristram Bamfylde FreemanFreeman’s holds an esteemed place in America’s history as its oldest auction house, and as one of the country’s first family owned businesses. For seven generations, since 1805, Freeman’s has made up an integral part of the country’s auction culture,  taking part in countless, often historically significant sales of  jewelry, fine art, furniture, and antiques on behalf of private collections, estates, and museums.

From a chess-playing automaton in 1838 to the Philadelphia Post Office in the 1880s, a desk said to have belonged to Benjamin Franklin in 1962, and a set of rare, early colors from the USS Constitution in 2012, there is little that Freeman’s hasn’t seen or sold over its lengthy history. Throughout the years, Freeman’s services have been requested by those seeking top expertise in the purchase and sale of all manner of items at auction, and Freeman’s services have been requested consistently by owners and executors of historically significant estates, many of them in the Philadelphia region. Some of the latter include the Chestnut Hill Estate of Edward Stotesbury, -- once known as “Philadelphia’s greatest financier”--, and his wife Eva, in 1944, and the Estate of Mrs. Mary S. Irick Drexel and Mr. George W. Childs Drexel, -- a well-known Philadelphia philanthropist--,  in 1948. More recently, in 2010, Freeman’s sold The Stevenson Easby Collection of 18th century antiques, from The Estate of George Mead Stevenson-Easby of Chestnut Hill. Easby is notable as the descendent of some successful Philadelphia merchant families and as the relation of more than one signer of the Declaration of independence. Freeman’s services were also requested by The Estate of Robert Montgomery Scott, the Estate of Joseph Sorger, and the Estate of Jack Wolgin, among others. 

The company began by the efforts of a printseller who came to America from London, Tristram Bamfylde Freeman. After an order from Pennsylvania Governor Thomas McKean, Freeman was appointed to the office of auctioneer in Philadelphia, where he subsequently began the company.  Over the years Freeman’s has grown both nationally, opening regional offices throughout the US, and internationally, expanding into the European market after forming an alliance with Lyon and Turnbull in 2000. The current Chairman of Freeman’s is Samuel M “Beau” Freeman II, the sixth generation of the Freeman family to run the auction house.   

Our International Alliance

Expanding its reach into the international market, Freeman’s formed a marketing alliance with Scotland’s oldest action house, Lyon & Turnbull, in 2000. The connection between Freeman’s and Lyon & Turnbull offers several strategic elements. First, the alliance boosts our auctions exposure in the UK and European markets. Our companies have shared a similar website design allowing our clients to easily explore the other company’s site. In addition, the auction house now releases a co-branded publication, International View magazine, with Lyon & Turnbull, highlighting recent auction successes and the stories behind objects that Freeman’s represents and sells.

Operating since 1826, Lyon & Turnbull are one of the longest established fine art and antiques auction houses in the United Kingdom. Lyon & Turnbull hosts 30 auctions per annum, including specialist categories such as Scottish paintings, British & European paintings, Asian works of art, jewellery, silver, antiques, books, furniture and contemporary art and design.

Lyon & Turnbull operates internationally, providing valuation and auction services worldwide, and ensuring our client's works of art and antiques are seen, desired, and purchased by the world’s largest art markets in Europe, America and Asia and maintains offices and galleries in Lyon and TurnbullLondon and Glasgow, and their neoclassical headquarters and saleroom in Edinburgh.

Established in Edinburgh, Lyon & Turnbull are Scotland's oldest firm of auctioneers. In the nineteenth century the firm conducted regular auctions in Edinburgh, handling a variety of art and antiques including such highlights as furniture from the Queen's residence at Balmoral. In the early 1840’s Lyon & Turnbull moved premises to George Street, and continued selling fine art and antiques at this address (changing ownership in the 1864) for over 130 years until 1999.  The legacy of Lyon & Turnbull’s George Street premises can still be seen, as some of the old signage is still visible on Thistle Street Lane North.

In 1999 Lyon & Turnbull was acquired by a group of auctioneers who had left Phillips, an auction house that was the third largest in the world during the 1990s. They were joined in the enterprise by Sir Angus Grossart, who is Chairman of Noble Grossart, one of Scotland’s leading Merchant Banks and a past Chairman of The Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland. The company's stated aim on regeneration was: "To rescue a national institution for Scotland and to establish a high quality auction house with an international footprint from a base in Edinburgh."

Since re-launching, Lyon & Turnbull has become the largest and most successful auction house in Scotland, and has become respected internationally as a diligent and trusted firm of auctioneers.

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