Automobilia revs up bidders for Turner’s July 30 auction

 

GE Edison Mazda lamp store display, est. $300-$500

GE Edison Mazda lamp store display, est. $300-$500

SAN FRANCISCO – Turner Auctions + Appraisals will present Automobilia & Collectibles from the Estate of Francis E. Tarzian, Sr., on Saturday, July 30 at 10:30 am Pacific time. Tarzian was a passionate collector of antique automobiles and related items, and his restoration and machinist skills earned him numerous awards. With more than 200 lots, this auction features a wide and eclectic array of automotive items, vintage and antique, as well as other collectibles from the early 20th-century era. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

Notable lots in the July 30 auction include a brass boa constrictor early automotive horn. It boasts a snake head top with tongue, fitted to a five- to six-foot tapering flexible tube, plus brackets and a squeeze bulb. The squeeze bulb has a tear at its base and the tube from the squeeze bulb is not connected to the flexible tube fitting. It is estimated at $800-$1,200.

Brass boa constrictor-form early automotive horn, est. $800-$1,200

Brass boa constrictor-form early automotive horn, est. $800-$1,200

Equally charming is a GE Edison Mazda lamp store display with antique light bulbs, capable of holding as many as 12 lamps (aka bulbs) to demonstrate the different bulb types. Each socket is individually switched, and the piece is made of lithographed sheet metal. Its lithography has fading in some areas, and the light bulbs range from four to five inches high. Its estimate is $300-$500.

Red Crown gasoline sign, est. $200-$300

Red Crown gasoline sign, est. $200-$300

Another standout is a Red Crown gasoline sign measuring approximately 30in in diameter and presenting with rust in that presents as round splotches. The sign is estimated at $200-$300.

Pair of antique brass automobile lights, est. $200-$400

Pair of antique brass automobile lights, est. $200-$400

Also worthy of mention is a pair of antique brass automobile lights by C T Ham Mfg Co. These appear to be a matched pair, with left and right mounting provisions. Both have clear large lenses and small red lenses at the rear. Together they are estimated at $200-$400.

 Group of antique phonographs and parts, est. $100-$200


Group of antique phonographs and parts, est. $100-$200

Rounding out the highlights is an Edison cylinder player bearing the serial number S286415, offered with a band rain-in-the-face medley 9817 cylinder Victor talking machine with the serial number VV-XIV 215369, plus other assorted antique parts. The group is estimated at $100-$200.

About Francis E. Tarzian, Sr.
Francis Tarzian (1929-1997) was born and raised in New Jersey. His father, who was born en route while his grandmother was emigrating to America, was a stonemason who was adamant that his son Francis follow in his career footsteps. Young Francis, however, had other ideas. At age 17 – and with his mother’s permission – he joined the U.S. Navy. There he pursued his trade of choice, becoming a master machinist and serving in the Korean War on the escort carrier USS Sicily.

In 1955, Francis married Vennetta Harding, with whom he had five children: Francis Jr., Rebecca, Nathan, Lydia and Gregory. In 1969, the Tarzians moved to Los Altos in Northern California. During that time, Tarzian worked for NASA’s Ames Research Center on the Polaris missile project. One noteworthy career achievement was his development of the fittings that connect hoses to the space suits of astronauts.

Tarzian had a lifelong fascination with all things mechanical. His interest in restoring cars began in 1953 when he purchased a 1921 Ford Model T center door sedan, recovered from a New Jersey barn. This first restoration project, one that Vennetta participated in as the young couple was courting, was completed in the mid-1950s. It was also in 1953 that Tarzian joined the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA), where he became the founding member and first president of the Foothills (California) Region. Today the AACA organization boasts more than 55,000 members and 350 regional chapters.

Tarzian was known for the exceptional quality of his restorations and the parts he produced, not only for his vehicles, but for those of other collectors. Because of his reputation, he was often welcomed into car museums, where he was allowed to take precise measurements of a part so he could machine and recreate it. With the exception of one second-place Grand National award in 1988 (of a vehicle restored in 1967), Tarzian’s vehicles were consistently awarded perfect scores of 100 points. According to his daughter, Rebecca Ross, the result of all the attention, care and love were exquisitely restored vehicles that she says were “a piece of jewelry you drive.” In January 2021, four of Tarzian’s vehicles – a 1907 Schacht Runabout High Wheeler, a 1912 Ford Model T Torpedo, a 1919 White Model 15, 3/4-ton stake side truck and a 1921 Ford Model T center door sedan – were offered by Turner Auctions + Appraisals and sold to avid collectors.

 

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