NEW HAMBURG, Canada – Three 19th century American cartridge display boards – two from Winchester and one from Union Metallic Cartridge – sold for a combined $241,900 in an online-only Canadiana & Sporting auction held June 5 by Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. The sale grossed $496,219, including the buyer’s premium. All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars.
The cartridge display boards were the top lots of the auction. All three were lithographed cardboard, with an applied representation of Winchester’s line of ammunition. Few survived intact due to their monumental size and the fact they were often displayed in store windows and areas exposed to light. They are highly prized by collectors.
The Winchester 1884 cartridge display board was the top lot of the auction overall, breezing past its pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$25,000 to finish at a robust $100,300. Runner-up honors went to the 1887 Winchester board, which had the same estimate and brought $88,500. The Union Metallic Cartridge Company board placed third, at $53,100.
The auction was headlined by the lifetime collections of Don and Joyce Blyth – an astounding assemblage of stoneware, sporting advertising, decoys, powder tins, soda water bottles, ginger beer bottles, beer bottles, Canadiana, and more. In all, 289 lots came up for bid, with 99 percent of them finding new owners. More than half of the lots sold met or exceeded their pre-sale estimates.
“I interviewed Don three days before his death,” said Ethan Miller of Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. “What he had was museum quality material. I asked him, ‘Why did you not donate it?’ He said, ‘Let the people enjoy it.’ His intention has now been realized. The stoneware pieces sold strongly, and the rarest of the offerings crushed the high estimates. All in all, it was a great sale.”
Joyce Blyth, who survives her husband and who attended the auction, said, “Never in our wildest dreams did we think that the cartridge boards had such value. Don would have been thrilled.”
Stoneware was led by a three-gallon jug produced in the 1870s by F. P. Goold and featuring a race horse decoration in cobalt slip. It was made during Goold’s tenure at the Brantford pottery in Canada, and sold for $20,060. Also, a two-gallon jug debossed with the phrase “Robt. Rutherford Guelph” and boasting an outstanding bird decoration, sold for $7,080. The jug appears on the cover of Joyce Blyth’s book, Jugs & Crocks of the Guelph Merchants. Another F. P. Goold jug, this one a two-gallon example, debossed with the phrase “F. P. Goold Brantford”, changed hands for $5,605.
Tops in the decoys category was an early gunning longtailed duck, circa 1880s-1940s, likely made by either Jimmy or William Clark of Toronto and Keswick, Ontario. It swam away with $8,260. Also of note was an early 20th century Burlington Bay canvasback duck decoy by Ivar Gustav Fernlund, with a structurally excellent bottom board, beautiful wet combed paint, and a bold and elegant high head. It sold for $7,670.
Returning to sporting collectibles, a Canadian Dominion Cartridge Company exhibition board, reportedly made for a display at the 1901 Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo, New York, achieved $9,440, and a 1902 American Winchester double “W” cartridge display board, featuring detailed lithographed images of the ammunition instead of the applied cartridges, hit $8,260.
An early 20th century Canadian Dominion Ammunition store counter display, marked “Petrucci Freres Statuaires Montreal”, sold for $6,490. Also, two Stelco Sample Shot display cases, one from the 1930s and one from the 1950s, sold for $3,835.
The current rate of exchange is dollar CA 1 = 82 cents.
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