This bedroom set is dripping in intriguing provenance and replete with the highs and lows of an opera story – literally.
This is a well-documented two-piece bedroom attributed to Daniel Pabst. It was originally owned by “Baby Doe” (Elizabeth McCourt) and Horace Tabor. It is believed to be a set commissioned by Horace just prior to their marriage.
An opera was written about the life of this wealthy businessman and his wives, titled “The Ballad of Baby Doe”. Their life is a story of great wealth and the ultimate disintegration of it. The Opera does not end as depressingly as it could have done as it omits the real end to their saga where Baby Doe ultimately dies nearly penniless in a shack by a mine she no longer owns.
Aside from the Wikipedia link above, another source for reading about their life story is here.
If that wasn’t enough history, the set was also at Hearst Castle, purchased by William Randolph Hearst from Baby Doe, and later owned by Dr. Frank Barham, Hearst’s principal publisher who later founded the Los Angeles Herald, Herald Examiner, and Herald Express papers in Los Angeles.
Bidding ends on the 3rd of November with a starting price of $95,000 or a buy-it-now price of $135,000. We’ll see where it ends up…
You can read more about the set and see more images including some early photos at the Tabor bed auction listing. Here’s some excerpts regarding the set:
Made primarily of walnut, this bedroom set has beautifully carved flowers and foliage, intricately carved birds, mysterious bats, insects, and other animals. The massive headboard of the bed has a rich central burled walnut panel, and the footboard hides several secret compartments. The ornate crest of the bed has a light wood owl at the center of deeply carved flowers, vines, and singing birds with whimsical bats flanking either side. The sides of the headboard have smaller birds amid a flowering trellis. The flowering trellises of birds and flowers are characteristic of the Japonnaise style – a design style that highlighted the Aesthetic movement of the late 19th century and was popularized by the Philadelphia Exposition of 1886. It was a style that celebrated art.
The dresser’s voluptuous crest has a light wood fox at the center of deeply carved foliage, flowers and birds. Whimsical birds flank the crest. The side panels, like the headboard, have flowering trellises and singing birds. Behind carved doors are numerous drawers including jewelry boxes. Beneath the heavy marble tops is a slide-out desk or vanity top. The back of this dresser is 115” tall – taller than the 104” headboard.