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Having operated under the moniker “The Dancer” for the majority of my life, I did not know what to do when, after eighteen years of climbing, I realized that I had reached the peak of my professional career as a ballet dancer and gave up the passion that for so long defined me. Throughout my college years, I struggled to fill the substantial void left in the wake of my premature and unexpected retirement from dance. Much to my dismay, nothing seemed to suffice. In June 2010, I began interning in the American Furniture, Decorative and Folk Arts Department at Freeman’s and have gradually worked my way up to an Associate Specialist within the department. Working for an auction house these past four years has proven to be as challenging and rewarding as my time in ballet.
There are many parallels between the world of auctions and that of ballet—parallels, which I believe, carried me with relative ease from the stage to the sale room and facilitated my initial transition from tutus to tavern tables and tall case clocks, from pointe shoes to porcelain and “painted surfaces”. Similar to a ballet season that builds up to its performances, each auction season is punctuated with climaxes (sales) preceded by periods of furious and frantic activity.
Discovering a renowned silversmith’s mark hidden beneath layers of tarnish on a Modernist sterling silver centerpiece or a rare Olympic Games participation medal in a box chock-full of ordinary ones; creating aesthetically appealing window displays that might pique the interest of prospective buyers; tracing the provenance of an interesting and historically significant item and subsequently writing its catalog entry; and watching an object soar past its high estimate during a sale has proven as invigorating as the moments before and after the curtain rises and falls on a ballet performance. Though I no longer put my hair in a bun every day and can no longer easily touch my toes, I believe I have found a place that fosters creativity, stimulates my intellectual curiosity, challenges me, and most importantly, genuinely excites me—a place where a former ballerina can not only regain her footing, but also thrive.
Whitney Bounty serves as an Associate Specialist in Freeman's American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts department. She specializes in American Furniture & Decorative Arts, American Folk Art, American Indian Arts, and American Silver.
Ms. Bounty first joined Freeman's in 2010 as the inaugural recipient of the Samuel M. Freeman II Fellowship. In her work with the American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts department she has obtained extensive experience in early American Silver, Chinese export porcelain made for the American market, and 20th century American Design.
Prior to working with Freeman's, Ms. Bounty studied ballet for nearly two decades and was a guest performer with the Pennsylvania Ballet. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an honors degree in English, with an emphasis in creative writing, and a minor in art history. Beyond her love for American antiques, she has an appreciation for aesthetics with an interest in fashion, architectural history and design. At Freemans, she enjoys creating intriguing window displays and special, cross-departmental exhibition vignettes.