AOK May 22 auction features estate property from former owners of Martin’s Tavern, legendary Washington DC restaurant favored by presidents since 1933

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Kelli Martin collection of spectacular diamond jewelry, gold & silver coins, art, guitars and elegant furnishings followed by separate collection of rare baseball memorabilia

Spectacular custom-designed platinum ring with certified 10.22-carat center diamond, F color, surrounded by another 8.5 carats of diamonds. EGL certificate. Provenance: Estate of Kelli I. Martin. Estimate $100,000-$200,000
Spectacular custom-designed platinum ring with certified 10.22-carat center diamond, F color, surrounded by another 8.5 carats of diamonds. EGL certificate. Provenance: Estate of Kelli I. Martin. Estimate $100,000-$200,000

DAMASCUS, Va. – If walls could talk, Martin’s Tavern in Washington, DC, would be a never-ending source of tantalizing political back stories that never made it into print. Since 1933, the beloved Georgetown restaurant has been a favorite of presidents, the press corps, sports legends and visiting dignitaries. Under the watchful eye of successive generations of the Martin family, each president from Truman through George W Bush was escorted to their favorite booth or table where, on a number of occasions, history was made. It was at Martin’s Tavern that Congressman John F Kennedy proposed to future first lady Jacqueline Bouvier. LBJ was known to discuss pending legislation there with his closest advisers, and there is evidence to suggest that spies consorted at the establishment in the 1930s and ‘40s.

On May 22nd, AOK Auctions of Damascus, Virginia, will offer property from the estate of Kelli Ireson Martin, who co-owned Martin’s Tavern with her husband, William A Martin Sr, the third-generation Martin family member to operate the business. The couple owned homes in Arlington, Virginia, and Vero Beach, Florida, where Kelli Martin, a passionate supporter of local charities, resided until her passing in 2019.

Kelli Martin’s selective taste in jewelry is reflected in the ultra-high-quality pieces consigned to the auction. A magnificent custom-designed platinum ring features a certified 10.22-carat center diamond, F color, surrounded by another 8.5 carats of diamonds. It is estimated at $100,000-$200,000 and will convey with an EGL certificate.

Another of Mrs Martin’s favorite rings has a fine 6.2-carat pear-shape solitaire diamond as its focal point and is flanked by an additional 12 baguette diamonds (6 on each side). The solitaire’s color is I1, and its clarity is VS1. Estimate: $50,000-$100,000

Undoubtedly, those who knew Kelli Martin would remember the classic beauty of her 14K white gold diamond stud earrings, with each diamond weighing a hefty 4+ carats. The diamonds are graded I2 in clarity and are I and H in color, respectively. The pre-sale estimate is $35,000-$50,000. Yet another highlight is Mrs Martin’s pendant designed with an 8-carat square emerald surrounded by 2 carats of diamonds. Estimate: $12,000-$20,000

An elegant timepiece from the Martin collection, an 18K rose gold Pasha de Cartier ladies watch is 35mm in size and comes with its original Cartier box and paperwork. It comes to auction with an $18,000-$30,000 estimate.

A small fleet of motor vehicles is led by Kelli Martin’s personal 1999 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Convertible, gold with a beige interior. The 5-speed automatic has a V-8 engine and has been driven only 27,000 miles. It has its additional hard top and is estimated at $13,000-$25,000. Cars from other consignors include a reliable 1995 Camaro Z28 with an LT1 350 Corvette engine, 6-speed transmission, new tires and new AC unit, $12,000-$18,000; and a burgundy 1966 Chevrolet Impala SS with a 350 Turbo transmission and original interior. The car has undergone a painstaking 10-year restoration and is in such fine working order, it could be driven as an everyday vehicle, if desired. The auction estimate is $16,000-$22,000. 

A remarkable estate collection of early and vintage baseball cards and autographed ephemera includes scores of rarities that sports collectors will not want to miss. There are two old autograph books containing signatures of baseball superstars, including Hall of Famers, which will be offered as separate consecutive lots. One of the books contains 60+ autographs, including those of Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Whitey Ford, Ernie Banks and Cal Ripken Jr. The second book contains 35 signatures, including Stan Musial, Jock Conlan and Red Grange. Each book is estimated at $8,000-$15,000.

Two other baseball treasures are worthy of special mention. A very rare Babe Ruth-autographed postcard from Deckelmeier’s, an establishment in Greenwood Lake, New York, has been authenticated by PSA/DNA and carries a pre-sale estimate of $12,000-$18,000. Also, a July 11, 1934 check drawn on The Bank of California, written and signed by baseball legend Ty Cobb, is unusual in that the immortal “Georgia Peach” signed it with his full name: Tyrus R. Cobb. PSA/DNA certified and PSA-graded 9, it is expected to reach $6,000-$9,000.

Four Gibson guitars that had belonged to William A Martin Sr are tuned up and ready to play. They include a 1952 laptop steel guitar, 1981 Sonex, 2006 SG, and a 2010 Les Paul Studio model. From the Martin estate and other consignors, there are antique furnishings, including Victorian etageres and sideboards; Murano art glass, pottery, crystal, cased displays of collectible knives, and both coins and currency. The auction is rounded out with antique rugs, 12 lots of firearms, and many unexpected or unique items such as a horse-drawn produce wagon marked “Whole Sale Fruit” and decorated with an image of bananas.

AOK Auctions will conduct its May 22, 2021 sale featuring the Estate of Kelli Martin at the company’s gallery, 30437 Blossom Rd., Damascus, VA 24236, starting at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. Preview May 21 from 10-6. All forms of bidding will be available including absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable or AuctionZip. For additional information call 276-477-0410 or email [email protected].

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