Elizabeth C. "Nancy" Smith, the 82-year-old Columbia recluse who died in February, had an affinity for gold. Much of her $1.8 million in stocks was in South African gold mining companies, and her $11,000 coin collection was dominated by gold coins.
Those holdings were revealed in a partial inventory of her possessions filed last week in the Howard County Orphans' Court by attorneys for two of Smith's cousins -- Carolyn Smith of Baltimore and Tabi Williamson of Eureka, Calif. They will inherit Smith's 300 acres of undeveloped farmland along Route 175.
Smith, who died without a will, was not married.
Smith's home, dubbed Blandair for Theodorick Bland, a 19th-century politician and judge who once owned it, had deteriorated over the years, said friends and associates, though Smith's lawyers estimate the land is worth $15 million to $30 million.
Attorneys and relatives refuse to reveal their intentions for the land. But many county officials, friends and preservationists doubt Smith's wishes to preserve the land will be fulfilled, given high federal inheritance taxes, which may be as much as 55 percent.
Timothy Murphy, Williamson's attorney in Eureka, said yesterday that it was "too premature to say what will happen to the land."
"My client and I haven't even seen the property yet, but we will be doing that soon," Murphy said. "At this point of time, we don't know what we will do with it."
According to the inventory, Smith owned about $6,000 worth of silverware, including a $450 sterling silver water pitcher and a $120 Gorham sterling-silver-handled carving knife.
Among the rare prints and sculptures were a $300 bronze sculpture of a dancing nude female by Philadelphia artist Harriet W. Frismuth in the 1920s and a $2,500 framed oil canvas of the ships Arc and Dove at sea by Montague Dawson.
John Pearson of Severna Park, who appraised some of Smith's goods, said a note from Frismuth thanking Smith for her hospitality was found beside the sculpture.
"She obviously knew some of the artists of her day personally. That was quite interesting to see," Pearson said.
Her 66 stock investments included 16,000 shares in Gencor Industries Inc. in South Africa worth about $300,000, about 2,000 shares in De Beers Consolidated Mines in South Africa worth about $67,000 and about 600 shares in Coca-Cola Co., worth about $46,000.
Smith's checking account at First National Bank totaled almost $50,000, and she had an estimated $56,000 in savings accounts.
Her coin collection included U.S. silver coins, 20 Swiss francs, five Russian rubles and Franklin Mint gold coins from Belize, Trinidad, Tobago and Panama.
Last month, about $40,000 worth of Smith's furniture was auctioned off at Alex Cooper Auctioneers Inc. in Towson. Much of the Empire-style furniture, including a $500 Potthast Bros. of Baltimore carved mahogany gentleman's bureau, was damaged with dents and dog bites, appraisers said.
Smith was renowned for a stubbornness that some say bordered on hostility when it came to maintaining her privacy and protecting her land.
She refused to meet with Rouse Co. officials who repeatedly tried to buy her land, which is less than a mile from Columbia's Town Center.
Pub Date: 6/10/97