Aetna Insurance, El Bar Gin signs top $51K at Showtime event

El Bart Gin tin sign with original frame, copyright 1905 by Wilson Distilleries. Price realized: $51,300. Showtime Auction Services image.

El Bart Gin tin sign with original frame, copyright 1905 by Wilson Distilleries. Price realized: $51,300. Showtime Auction Services image.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – An Aetna Insurance Co., Hartford, Conn., reverse-glass painted sign with mother of pearl inlay, 34 inches square and in excellent like-new condition, sold for $51,300 at an auction held April 4-6. The sale was conducted by Showtime Auction Services with Internet live bidding facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.com.

“That Aetna sign was one of the most impressive reverse glass signs we’ve ever seen, just beautiful,” said Mike Eckles of Showtime Auction Services. The sign tied for top lot of the auction with an El Bart Gin tin sign, housed in the original frame and copyrighted in 1905 by Wilson Distilleries, Kaufman & Strauss Co., N.Y. That sign also gaveled for $51,300.

In all, more than 1,800 lots from two major collections, plus consignments from over 100 other advanced collectors came up for bid, in an auction that grossed more than $1.3 million. Headlining the event were the lifetime collections of Robert and Janet Straub of Kansas and Neil J. Frick of Michigan. Both collections were diverse, with items in more than 40 categories.

The auction was a bit different than past Showtime sales, in that live, Internet and phone bidding were permitted all three days. “We used to have live-only auctions the first day of each sale, but that won’t be the case any longer,” Eckles said. “From now on, Internet bidding will be available the entire time. Real-time bidding has really taken hold, and we’re obligated to make our consignments open to all forms of bidding,” he said.

That said, Eckles was somewhat surprised by the large in-person turnout – around 200 people each day. “There were more folks at this auction than our fall sale,” he remarked, “and because of how we spread out all the categories, the audience kept changing.” He added internet bidding was heavy as well.

Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a buyer’s premium that ranged from 14 percent to 20 percent, depending on how the winning bid was placed.

A rare Hires Root Beer, the green version, showing a graphic of the Hires Boy and a price of 5 cents, went for $49,200. The dispenser – 18 inches tall and with no chips or cracks, was stamped “Mettlach 3098” on the bottom. Also, a full-size, bright red 1928 Model A fire hose and ladder truck, fully restored and complete with patriotic banners and ribbons, charged away for $31,200.

Two lots realized identical selling prices of $34,200. The first was a Happy Jap  Chewing Gum 1-cent machine patented in 1902, with the original porcelain sign and custom wall bracket. The machine stands 12 inches tall. The second was a Glencoe Brewing Co., Glencoe, Minn., Vitrolite corner sign, “Uncle Sam Beer,” in great shape and in the original copper flashed frame.

Another beer sign that did exceptionally well was a Yosemite Beer reverse glass sign for Enterprise Brewing Co., San Francisco. The sign, in excellent condition and measuring 15 1/4 inches by 19 1/2 inches, brought $27,600. Also, a De Laval Cream Separator die-cut two-sided flange sign, mounted on a wood display stand and showing just a few minor rubs and scratches, turned $6,400.

A Skinner’s Satins self-framed oval tin sign, Chas. W. Shonk Lithographers, Chicago, in near-mint condition and with a boldly rendered American Indian in full headdress graphic, rose to $24,000; a sheep weather vane made of zinc, in very good original condition, fetched $25,650; and an October Sweet Apple Cider stoneware crock, “Good to the Core,” commanded $2,700.

A Mills one-armed bandit miner-themed slot machine, taking 25 cents per play and possibly attributed to Frank Polk, 76 inches tall and in very good working condition, made $17,100; and a Union Pacific System die-cut porcelain shield sign, “The Overland Route,” professionally restored and in excellent condition, measuring 38 1/4 inches by 42 inches, breezed to $12,540.

Two other lots cracked the $10,000 mark. One was a Puffer Hubbard Co. salesman’s sample silo, the Minneapolis panel silo, in very good original condition, 16 inches tall and 8 3/4 inches in diameter, which sold for $11,400. The other was the earliest version of a oscillating gyro fan by Adams Bagnel. In excellent restored condition, it sold for $10,200.

A Model 716 Enterprise floor model coffee grinder, datent 1898, with the original paint, stenciling, eagle finial and pan, in very good condition, 58 1/2 inches tall, coasted to $9,000.

A Life-Savers die-cut cardboard string hanging two-sided sign, 10 inches by 12 inches, in very good condition except for some edge wear at the bottom and corners and at the top hole went for $9,600. A rare Merry War pure powdered lye tin match holder, “The girl who knows the best,” made by E. Myers Lye Co., St. Louis, Mo., 3 3/4 inches tall, commanded $4,500.

A hard-to-find Red Goose Shoes cast-iron string holder with most of the original paint intact and in very good overall condition, 14 inches by 10 inches, went for $4,200; and a Tuxedo Perfect Tobacco cardboard store display box, showing a picture of baseball player Harry Gowdy and with a quote attributed to him endorsing the product, hammered for $2,500.

Showtime Auction Services is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To consign an item, an estate or a collection, call Michael Eckles at 951-453-2415 or email him at MikEckles@aol.com or mike@showtimeauctions.com.

Click here to view the fully illustrated catalog for this sale, complete with prices realized.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


El Bart Gin tin sign with original frame, copyright 1905 by Wilson Distilleries. Price realized: $51,300. Showtime Auction Services image.

 

El Bart Gin tin sign with original frame, copyright 1905 by Wilson Distilleries. Price realized: $51,300. Showtime Auction Services image.

Aetna Insurance Co. reverse glass painted sign with mother of pearl inlay. Price realized: $51,300. Showtime Auction Services image.

 

Aetna Insurance Co. reverse glass painted sign with mother of pearl inlay. Price realized: $51,300. Showtime Auction Services image.

Hires Root Beer dispenser, the green version, depicting the Hines Boy, 5 cents. Price realized: $49,200. Showtime Auction Services image.

 

Hires Root Beer dispenser, the green version, depicting the Hines Boy, 5 cents. Price realized: $49,200. Showtime Auction Services image.

1928 red Ford Model A fire hose and ladder truck, with patriotic banners, ribbons. Price realized: $31,200. Showtime Auction Services image.

1928 red Ford Model A fire hose and ladder truck, with patriotic banners, ribbons. Price realized: $31,200. Showtime Auction Services image.

Glencoe Brewing Co. “Uncle Sam Beer” Vitrolite corner sign, in frame. Price realized: $34,200. Showtime Auction Services image.

Glencoe Brewing Co. “Uncle Sam Beer” Vitrolite corner sign, in frame. Price realized: $34,200. Showtime Auction Services image.

Zinc sheep weather vane in very good condition, 24 1/2 inches by 18 inches. Price realized: $25,650. Showtime Auction Services image.

Zinc sheep weather vane in very good condition, 24 1/2 inches by 18 inches. Price realized: $25,650. Showtime Auction Services image.

Model 716 Enterprise floor model coffee grinder, patented 1898, original paint. Price realized: $9,000. Showtime Auction Services image.

Model 716 Enterprise floor model coffee grinder, patented 1898, original paint. Price realized: $9,000. Showtime Auction Services image.

Life-Savers die-cut cardboard two-sided string hanging sign, 10 inches by 12 inches. Price realized: $9,600. Showtime Auction Services image.

Life-Savers die-cut cardboard two-sided string hanging sign, 10 inches by 12 inches. Price realized: $9,600. Showtime Auction Services image.

Mills one-armed bandit slot machine, 25 cents, possibly by Frank Polk. Price realized: $17,100. Showtime Auction Services image.

Mills one-armed bandit slot machine, 25 cents, possibly by Frank Polk. Price realized: $17,100. Showtime Auction Services image.

Skinner's Satins self-framed tin sign with Native American graphic in full headdress. Price realized: $24,000. Showtime Auction Services image.

Skinner’s Satins self-framed tin sign with Native American graphic in full headdress. Price realized: $24,000. Showtime Auction Services image.