ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A C/B a la Spirite corset display with the original box, original etched and gold leaf on the front of the large display case and even a mannequin inside sold for $17,100 at an auction held April 12-14 by Showtime Auction Services. LiveAuctioneers.com provided Internet live bidding.
The display measured 23 1/2 inches by 42 inches by 20 inches and the mannequin was in very good original condition, except for some minor staining. The lot was typical of many other country store and general store displays that contained actual product, driving up their value and desirability as a collectible. Most of these displays had not been on the market for 30 to 40 years.
They came from the collection of the auction’s headlining consignors—Bill and Kathie Gasperino, known in antique circles for having one of the finest country store and advertising collections in the United States. Also offered was Part 2 of the Robert and Harriett Potter fire fighting collection and Part 3 of the Ed and Christy Ramsey collection of toys and pedal cars.
In all, over 2,400 lots came up for bid in an auction that grossed about $2.2 million. “It was one of our best spring auctions ever,” said Mike Eckles of Showtime Auction Services, based in Woodhaven, Mich. “Over 500 lots were rare and unseen country store and general store displays and products from the Gasperinos. I can’t stress enough the quality of their collection.”
The auction featured merchandise from over 30 categories—fairly typical for Showtime Auction Services, which conducts only two auctions a year. Approximately 2,200 people registered to bid online.
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a buyer’s premium.
The sale’s top lot was a rare Campbell’s Soup embossed tin sign, which read: “6 Plates for 10 Cents – Just Add Hot Water and Serve.” Measuring 40 inches by 27 1/2 inches, it is one of the most sought after advertising signs by advertising and folk art collectors. Some nail holes around the perimeter and light rusting didn’t deter bidders, who drove the final price to $60,000.
Following closely at $57,000, was a 1917 La France automatic aerial ladder truck, professionally restored and in excellent running condition. “In our opinion, this is the finest hook and ladder fire truck ever offered at auction,” Eckles said. The truck (Reg. #352) came with a period braided life net and equipment, and read on the side: “Martin’s Ferry Hook & Ladder.”
A Bellingham Bay Beer reverse glass sign in the original frame, in mostly excellent condition and 19 1/2 inches in diameter, soared to $31,200; an outdoor sand sign for Walden Eddy Plows (Greenwich, N.Y.), in very good condition, 59 inches by 24 inches, brought $20,520; and a rare Kelly Tire round tin sign in good original condition, 24 inches in diameter, made $17,100.
A National Cash Register Model 442-E-L cash register with reproduction top sign (“Try Our Oysters”), professionally restored by Peter Warns, whose grandfather was a repairman at NCR when the brass machines were first made, rose to $6,600.
A bronze sculpture by the Egyptian-born American artist Maher Morocos (b. 1946), one of only 20 cast, changed hands for $15,960. The sculpture, 34 inches tall, depicted an American Indian brave leaning down from his horse and handing a canteen to a wounded, thirsty cowboy. It was designed as a 73rd birthday present for President Ronald Reagan.
An authentic Sioux beaded baby cradle in a geometric pattern, made circa 1890 from sinew, sewn supple cowhide, 21 inches tall, garnered $7,500; a circa 1930s Steelcraft Auburn Super Charge pedal car, fully restored, with pneumatic tires, 55 inches long, sped off for $4,560; and a J. Chein Popeye bag puncher tin toy, near mint in the box, hit $3,600.
Showtime Auction Services’ next big auction will be held Oct. 3-5, also at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor. It will feature the lifetime advertising collection of Don and Diane Sayrizi, plus consignments from over 100 advanced collectors, in the many categories that have made Showtime Auction Services renowned in the industry.
These include petroliana and automobilia, general store, country store, toys, pedal cars, barber shop, tobacciana, fire fighting antiques and memorabilia, veterinary, hardware, advertising signs, store tins, soda fountain, Coca-Cola, Western, Native American, farm signs, whiskey, breweriana, match safes, drug store, saloon, post office, coin-op, arcade, scales, gambling, cash registers, folk art, department store, millinery, showcases and store fixtures.
Showtime Auction Services is always accepting quality items for future sales. To consign an item, an estate or an entire collection, call Michael Eckles at 951-453-2415; or e-mail him at MikEckles@aol.com.
View the fully illustrated catalog for Showtime Auction Services for that portion of the auction, April 13-14, complete with prices realized, at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE