1908 could be a very good year

One century on, 1908 could turn out to be a very good year for everyone who attends a gala dinner and auction at Grand Old House.

The event takes place on Saturday, 25 October, and celebrates the 100th anniversary of Grand Old House, which was established in 1908 as Petra Plantation. The site has a fascinating history and is now a well-known restaurant and venue for special occasions.

In keeping with the historical theme, the auction will feature several items from the era, including some with special significance in Cayman.

Proceeds from the evening are to benefit an historic site project the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, which is co-hosting the event in partnership with Grand Old House.

That site is the Mission House in Bodden Town, a property with a history even older than Grand Old House. Managed by the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, the residence embodies construction techniques and furnishings of another era and way of life. Funds raised will help with outside lighting, parking lot improvements and general operating expenses.

While it is difficult to predict which items will attract the most vigorous bidding when presented by auctioneer Arek Joseph, it seems safe to assume which will attract the most interest.

Prominent among these must be a bottle of 1908 Armagnac from Castarede in Paris. This vintage is very rare and no longer commercially available, said Ms Caroline Key, National Trust marketing manager.

The Armagnac has been provided for the auction by Grand Old House at cost, with proceeds for the Trust.

A controversial item from 1908 is the rare Cayman Islands one penny stamp with a ½ penny overprint.

Also from 1908: sterling silver demitasse spoons; an agate and silver brooch; a Victorian marble and wood solitaire game with the original marbles.

From 1905 comes a silver Swiss cylinder pocket watch and from 1909 a six-volume illustrated set of The Complete Works of Robert Burns, the often quoted Scottish poet.

Another literary offering with close connections to Cayman is the two-volume work by Reverend Thomas Redpath who served in Grand Cayman in the early 1900s. He later wrote The Great Crocodile, described as ‘tradition lighted up with imagination’.

Rev. Redpath was the last missionary to live in the Mission House. After his death, his widow hand typed his manuscript and now only four copies are known to exist.

Cayman’s history is highlighted in another document, an 1863 Act of Parliament – ‘An Act for the Government of the Cayman Islands’ put before Queen Victoria.

Of course, not all precious items need to be 100 years old. From 2008, the auction will feature a Gerard Genta men’s watch a pendant with 2.13 carats of diamonds and two Caymanite necklace and bracelet sets.

To complete the evening there will be story-telling during the champagne reception and music by Coco Red and pianist Leyannes Valdes.

Tickets may be reserved by contacting the National Trust at 949-0121.