Auctioneering returns to Rappahannock

Sperryville auction house will concentrate on estate collections, real estate

There have been few auction galleries in and around Rappahannock County since the 1970s, when former sheriff-turned-auctioneer John Walker Jenkins would sell-off items to the highest bidder in the same building where Tula’s Restaurant is located today.

Alex Sharp poses in front of a now-antique auctioneering sign that belonged to the late John Walker Jenkins, a former sheriff in Rappahannock County. Sharp and his wife, Ashleigh, are opening an auction house in Sperryville, with bidding to commence this Saturday. By John McCaslin

“John Walker Jenkins was quite famous,” recalls Alex Sharp, who with his wife Ashleigh is bringing auctioneering back to Rappahannock. “He was very much a local guy with a big presence, the sheriff for a number of years.”

With Jenkins’ old auctioneering sign as a backdrop, the Thornton River Auction Gallery in Sperryville’s River District will have its inaugural live auction this Saturday, Sept. 29, at 9 a.m., with veteran auctioneer Scott Strosnider of Stephens City calling the bids. There will be a preview of items on Friday (tomorrow) from 2 to 7 p.m.

“This is a totally new business separate from the antique shop,” stresses Sharp, who has cleared out a large space at 7 River Lane, adjacent to Copper Fox Antiques, transforming it into a brightly lit auction house for everything from estate and special collections to real estate.

“It’s more about you sold the house, you sold the estate, and you just brought all the furniture to us,” he explains. “We have a lady downsizing in Winchester, so that’s an estate of sorts. If there’s a theme, the auction is to accomplish a purpose: it’s to liquidate this house, it’s to liquidate a special collection.”

Sharp sees auctions taking place a minimum of once per month, perhaps twice once word spreads throughout the region. A specific schedule, along with a description of items and photos, will be posted regularly at under “Thornton River Auction and Real Estate,” the company’s name.

Sold to the highest bidder at this Saturday’s inaugural auction will be the “high-end” contents of a single large local home, including a dining room set, leather-top presidential desk, marble top side tables, china cabinet, myriad antique collectibles, and tools. And there will be plenty more from other sources to go on the auction block, including three antique horse drawn sleighs (horses not included).

“A true country auction,” Sharp describes it.

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John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at