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Longtime art collector, James Mathis, to sell art collection

POSTED: August 26, 2008 5:01 a.m.
TOM REED / The Times

Bill Holcomb looks over some of the artwork that jim and Frances Mathis are selling at their home. Proceeds from the sale of artwork and other items will fund a scholarship through the North Georgia Community Foundation.

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  • James Mathis recalls the old days of promoting his bank.
For a few days, the clock has been set back 30 years as James Mathis Sr. reclaims his role as the great promoter.

In his heyday, Mathis would serve cherry pie at his bank to commemorate George Washington’s birthday. He gave out piggy banks with the likeness of cowboy star Hopalong Cassidy to encourage young people to save. He seemed to never run out of new ideas to bring customers and their money into the bank.

At 84, Mathis now needs the help of a cane to get around. His steps might not be as sure as before, but his mind is sharp as ever.

For the next two days, Mathis is selling off some of his vast collection of stuff. It ranges from artwork to antique plows.

"We have an art collection of 60 years, 120 pieces," Mathis said. "We looked around the house and there was no place to put anything. Our grandchildren didn’t need any more."

Mathis consulted with his wife, Frances, who he always refers to as "Mama."

The couple plans to use the proceeds from the sale to fund a scholarship fund through the North Georgia Community Foundation.

"I want to create a scholarship that goes to the second or third people in the class," Mathis said. "The top people get enough scholarships. These people need encouraging."

Mathis’ collection includes a number of signed and number prints, as well as several originals from a variety of artists who have piqued his interest through the years.

Mathis also is selling several antique pieces, such as old school desks, plows and harrows.

In a page out of the Mathis playbook of the past, workers built a lemonade stand to greet visitors to the home at 229 Longview Ave., where a cup of cold lemonade is offered to every visitor. Frances Mathis is stationed at one end of the driveway and her husband is at the other.

While he hopes the venture is profitable, James Mathis seems to enjoy renewing acquaintances with his visitors, many of whom remember banking with him.

"I didn’t know I knew so many people," Mathis said. "They just keep coming by."

He said the sale was advertised to start at 8 a.m. Thursday, but he had people waiting by 6:30 a.m.

"They’ve come from everywhere."

Mathis will continue the sale today and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.



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