Arts & Culture
2:00 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Hundreds Of Items From Duke-Semans Estate Up For Auction

A Steinway piano along with about 500 other items from Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans' estate will be up for auction this weekend
A Steinway piano along with about 500 other items from Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans' estate will be up for auction this weekend.
Credit Brunk Auctions

This weekend, bidders will have the opportunity to take home a piece of North Carolina history when hundreds of items from Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans' estate go up for auction.

Semans was a longtime Durham philanthropist and the great-granddaughter of Washington Duke, who helped to create Duke University and founded the American Tobacco Company. She passed away in early 2012, and left a lifetime's collection of art, jewelry, furniture and household items behind.

The family donated some of these pieces, kept others and have decided to offer the rest up to the public, said Aaron Edwards, the media coordinator for the auction house handling the sale, Brunk Auctions.

Edwards said his company is extremely excited for the auction, partly because of the Duke name.

"They're known to many as the first family of North Carolina," Edwards says. "They've done so much for the state."

A thousand people or more are expected to attend and bid on the lot of about 500 items. One of Edwards' favorite pieces is a Steinway grand piano from 1915, estimated to sell for $12,000 to $18,000. A set of five plates, valued at $200 to $500 each, display the Semans-Duke family crest.

One of Semans' most notable philanthropic projects was the Duke Homestead, the former home of Washington Duke and a state historical site. Curators are collecting donations to help purchase  items from the auction that were used at the property from 1852 to 1874. They will preserve these items and display them for future visitors.

The auction will open for viewing at noon on August 25th at Washington Duke Inn on the Duke University Campus. Bidding will take place August 26th.