NEW HAMBURG, Ontario – A leather motorcycle license plate from 1907 sold for $10,620 and an Orange Crush tin litho sign from the 1930s brought $5,959 at a vintage advertising and historic objects auction held Dec. 7 by Miller & Miller Auctions Ltd. Prices quoted are in Canadian dollars ($1 Canadian = U.S. $0.74). Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
A rare leather motorcycle license plate (above) was listed in the 1910 directory as issued to Walter H. Gurd, 185 Dundas St. in London, Ontario. The Orange Crush single-sided lithographed tin sign, a recent find, was 59 inches by 35 inches. It was marked “C-12N – St. Thomas Metal Signs Ltd., St. Thomas, Ont” on the lower center edge.
“Two days before the sale we were contacted by a construction firm that had uncovered a layer of early tin Coca-Cola and Orange Crush signs behind the wall of a building that was slotted for demolition,” said Ethan Miller of Miller & Miller Auctions. “Among those signs was the Orange Crush. The energy in the room was already electric, but then it was totally bolstered.”
The auction featured the collection of John McKenty – the Canadian historian and author whose collection tells the story of the rise and fall of the Canada Cycle & Motor Co. of Canada. McKenty gave a special presentation the Friday evening before the auction. He was once described as “Canada’s premier authority to the community that collects anything CCM related.”
A 1937 Canada Cycle & Motor Co. Flyte bicycle – the rarest of all the CCM bicycles, a high-end model that was expensive for its time, didn’t sell well and ceased production in 1940 – sold for $3,600. The bike had an unusual fork and frame design and the original “Lucien Bicycle Service” dealer decals on the seat tube and down tube. It also had correct Dunlop chrome rims.
The McKenty collection featured CCM bicycles, advertising, sports memorabilia, catalogs, brochures, photographs and paper ephemera. “The literature performed especially well,” Miller said. “Results were strong, most on the high-side if not exceeding estimates. Such an offering of CCM memorabilia would be hard if not impossible to replicate anytime soon.”
The auction also contained other advertising items and signs, automobilia, sports memorabilia and historical ephemera, much of it Canadian in origin. Nearly 600 lots crossed the auction block in a sale that grossed just over $280,000. “We had a ton of fun selling the stuff,” Miller remarked, “and collectors had fun buying. It was a positive, upbeat day in so many ways.”
Following are additional highlights from the auction, which attracted an audience of around 175 people live to the gallery. Another 391 folks placed a combined 6,087 bids online. “The market is alive and well,” Miller said. All prices quoted here are inclusive of the buyer’s premium.
An 1898 French advertising poster for Cleveland Cycles, with superb artwork by Jean Pal de Paleologue, gaveled for $3,835. Also, an early CCM Automobile Skates sign from around 1910, 59¼ inches by 31¼ inches, advertising CCM’s foray into the manufacture and sale of skate blades, hit $2,655.
A tin litho Goodyear Service Station sign, made in America in the 1920s and impressive at 71½ inches by 24 inches, marked “American Art Works, Coschocton, O,” in the original painted wood frame, finished at $4,720. Also, a tin litho “Atom Jet” Japanese friction race car toy made by Yonezawa, the largest variant, marked “Atom Jet” and “No. 58” on the sides, made $3,900.
A group of 20 regimental military uniform buttons, mostly from the Civil War era, with many undug examples, the buttons marked on the rear, from the Horace Weed collection, sold as one lot for $6,000. Also, a 1950s-era Coca-Cola school zone sign with policeman graphic, made in the U.S. and in excellent condition, with original hardware and great color and gloss, hit $3,540.
A Butler Dawes Brewery black horse statue, 18 inches tall, plaster cast in the 1930s by famed Ontario sculptor Ross Butler (1907-1995) fetched $3,540. Also, a purple Kawasaki KH400 Triple three-cylinder motorcycle showing just 10,401 actual miles on the odometer, VIN # S3F-39392, found a new owner for $3,835.
A Canadian 1923 Quebec Central Railway timetable in the original oak frame, 16¼ inches by 24¼ inches, originally displayed in rail stations on the Quebec Central Line, garnered $2,875; while a 1920s visible gas pump topped off at $3,245.
For details contact Miller & Miller Auctions at 519-573-3710 or 519-716-5606 or info@MillerandMillerAuctions.com.