Atop a northern bank of Schuylkill River sits Vaux Hill, a palatial manor with white columns surrounded by rolling grounds. The historic home was completed on a site known as Fatland in 1776 by James Vaux, a wealthy Quaker from Philadelphia. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington stayed at the home as it was a strategic location for the Continental Army camped at Valley Forge. Later, John James Audubon frequented Vaux Hill as a visitor. It was there he met his future wife Lucy Bakewell, and together they explored the home’s gardens and natural surroundings.In 1843, Vaux Hill was rebuilt by its owner at the time William Wetherill. He commissioned architect John Haviland to expand the home into a twenty-room country estate. Haviland, who added the marble columns to the home, is also known for designing the original Franklin Institute and renovating Independence Hall. The house was purchased by its current owners Barbara and the late Robert Safford in 1991. The couple extended and renovated the historic mansion and began to furnish the house with lavish European antiques. The result was a unique marriage of American Greek-Revival architecture and a magnificent Louis XV and XVI interior resplendent with fine porcelains, decorative arts, mirrors, and furniture reminiscent of Marie Antoinette’s Le Petit Trianon at Versailles. On September 25, 2013 Freeman’s will offer selected contents at auction from The Robert & Barbara Safford Collection.
Initially deterred by Vaux Hill’s grand size, the Saffords—whom shared a love of history and were supporters of the Museum of the American Revolution—came to call it home. “When we walked through the doors we could sense the history of the house, and it had a warm feeling about it. Then and there, we knew it was home.” said Mrs. Safford. The couple quickly realized that the twenty-room historic manor needed to be furnished with equally impressive pieces. Over the next twenty years, Robert and Barbara Safford amassed a collection of art and furniture fit, and sometimes made, for royalty. Inspired by their travels to Europe and the castles and stately homes they visited, they found themselves drawn to fine English and Continental antiques.
The September 25th auction of The Robert and Barbara Safford Collection consists of almost 300 lots. Several works of note include: A rare gilt bronze mounted porcelain tall case clock by the Berlin Konigliche Porzellan Manufaktur (KPM), circa 1895. It is believed to be one of only six in existence produced after a design by Alexander Kips. Estimated at $80,000-120,000, one of these six clocks was given to Queen Victoria by her grandson Kaiser Wilhelm II and placed at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, where it stands to this day.