Originally created 07/27/06

Woman brings Sotheby's knowledge to Augusta

Although her background isn't in historic preservation, as was her predecessor's, Julia Jackson brings a unique rsum as the marketing director for Historic Augusta.

Mrs. Jackson spent eight years working at Sotheby's, an auction house in New York.

"My first job wasn't glamorous," said Mrs. Jackson, who moved to Augusta after getting married in October. Her husband, Robert, owns 2gobox.

A graduate of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., Mrs. Jackson said, she envisioned working in the china department at Sotheby's, but her first few years were spent in customer service. She said her initial job was calling customers with overdue accounts.

"It taught me how to be an excellent customer service representative," she said. "The skills I learned there will carry me the rest of my life."

One thing she learned early is that emotions run high in the world of an auction house. Mrs. Jackson said the three Ds force people into selling goods.

"Death, debt and divorce are three of the primary ways property is consigned, so there are high emotions associated with them," she said.

The first auction she was to be a witness to was postponed. In September 1997, Sotheby's was scheduled to auction items from the Paris home of King Edward VI, who gave up the British throne to marry Wallis Simpson. Theey were later known as the duke and duchess of Windsor.

The items auctioned were owned by Mohamed al-Fayed.

Days before the auction, however, Mr. al-Fayed's son Dodi and Princess Diana were killed in a car accident in Paris.

Instead, Mrs. Jackson's first auction was Oct. 4, 1997, and she said it was everything she dreamed it would be.

"It was very exciting. All the press cameras were there. The auction room was full," she said.

Within nine minutes, Sue, an almost complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil, was sold for $8.3 million to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

Despite the seven-figure price tag, the dinosaur wasn't the most expensive item that Mrs. Jackson has seen auctioned.

In 2004, Pablo Picasso's Garcon a la Pipe fetched more than $104 million.

After working in customer services, Mrs. Jackson said, she spent her last four years in the European Ceramics and Chinese Export Porcelain department.

She had developed a love for ceramics while growing up in North Carolina. While in college, she spent time in England studying English pottery.

"My mother collects North Carolina pottery," Mrs. Jackson said. "I have a love of pretty dishes."

During her time at Sotheby's, she saw many pieces that interested her.

There were several auctions of presidential china. Mrs. Jackson said that each president is allowed to choose the china to be used at the White House during his term.

"We sold a number of presidential plates - Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln," she said.

Woodrow Wilson, whose boyhood home in Augusta is run by Historic Augusta, was the first president to choose American-made china, she said.

Mrs. Jackson said she never saw any of the Wilsons' china but wishes she had.

There was an auction that did feature an abundance of china.

Though she enjoyed her time in New York, Mrs. Jackson said she's grown to love Augusta and its rich history.

"I'm overjoyed at living in Augusta - the important number of historical and cultural sites - the opportunity for education and entertainment a city this size has to offer," she said.

Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at czbrackett@hotmail.com.


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