DENVER, Pa. – On September 30, Morphy Auctions begin the thrilling year-long adventure of selling the Bobby Knudsen Jr Collection of World-Class Automotive, Gas & Oil and Soda Pop Advertising. The massive personal collection will be offered in a series of three no-reserve auctions concluding in the fall of 2023, with all sales to be conducted live at Morphy Auctions’ gallery in Denver (Lancaster County), Pennsylvania. The September 30, 2022 series opener, devoted exclusively to Knudsen’s collection, will be followed by October 1-3 sessions featuring high-quality automobilia, petroliana and railroadiana from other consignors. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Knudsen’s entire 32-year collection of rare, authentic examples in superior condition – 90% in 9.0 condition or better – will be offered with no reserve
Commenting on the importance of the Knudsen collection, Morphy Auctions’ Automobilia & Petroliana Department Head John Mihovetz said: “To me, Bobby is like the godfather of our hobby. As long as I have been involved in petroliana and soda pop signage, Bobby has been one of the leading lights. It’s challenging to find the right words to convey just how unique and historically significant his collection is.”
Topping the list of highlights in the September 30 session is a circa-1929 Musgo Gasoline “Michigan’s Mile Maker” double-sided porcelain service station sign. Emblazoned with the image of a Native American chief, the 48-inch-diameter sign is one of the finest known examples ever to be offered publicly. Very few double-sided signs of its type are complete and in undamaged condition. Knudsen’s treasured Musgo sign, which is graded 8.75+ out of 10, comes to auction with a $200,000-$400,000 estimate.
A great favorite with collectors, the lively canine mascot for Husky petroleum products makes several high-profile appearances in the sale. One of only two known examples of a Husky Motor Oils tin billboard sign measures a massive 96 by 60 inches inclusive of its original wood frame, and is graded a strong 8.5+. Against a dazzling Northern Lights background of red, yellow and white, the artful ad shows the husky pup at its energetic best. Truly one of the finest examples of graphics in all of gasoline and motor oil advertising, this sign’s eye appeal is off the charts. A winning bid in the $75,000-$150,000 range is anticipated.
Two other Husky signs, in particular, are expected to shine on auction day. An incredible circa-1930s new/old stock Husky Service (Station) double-sided porcelain shield sign that was discovered in its original shipping crate measures 48 by 42 inches and is a strong condition 9.5+ on one side and 9.0+ on the other. The pre-sale estimate is $40,000-$80,000. A vibrant and glossy single-sided die-cut tin Husky Motor Oils service station sign in 9.0+ condition is so clean, it could easily be new/old-stock as well. Sized 27¾ by 23¾ inches, it carries an estimate of $30,000-$40,000.
Many gas and oil advertising collectors keep a watchful eye out for signs that represent brands from their own home region. Some of the most sought-after types are those that were produced for California companies. There is already strong pre-auction interest in a rare circa-1930s Beacon (Caminol, Los Angeles) Security Gasoline sign. The outstanding 48-inch-high die-cut porcelain sign replicates a lighthouse with its beacon shining brightly as ocean waves crash against the structure’s base. Executed in bright primary colors with high gloss and enviable 9.0 overall condition, it has been assigned a $50,000-$80,000 estimate.
Airplane petroleum signs are especially rare, so there’s always excitement when a superlative, early example appears at auction, like the one entered as Lot 1074. The circa-1930s double-sided porcelain service station sign promotes Sinclair Aircraft Gasoline and has a beautiful central image of an early airplane with its propeller whirring. Immaculate and absolutely stunning with its red, white and green color scheme, the round 48-inch-diameter sign is graded an unapologetic 9.5+ out of 10, easily warranting a $40,000-$80,000 estimate.
A highly sought-after 1930s Grizzly Gasoline (Northwest Refining Co., Cut Bank, Montana) tin gasoline sign with a standing-bear graphic and the company slogan “Dubbs Cracked” is 48 inches in diameter and graded 8.25+ in condition. There are few known examples of this particular type of sign. A first-rate example, it could reach $25,000-$50,000 on auction day.
Another gorgeous sign of a type that collectors clamor for but rarely see at auction is the circa-1930s Houston Gasoline double-sided porcelain service station sign with a graphic of Texas legend General Sam Houston on horseback. A 48-inch-diameter round sign, its sides are graded 9.25+ and 9.0, respectively. Described in the catalog as “one of the finest examples [Morphy’s] has ever sold,” It is offered with a $30,000-$40,000 estimate.
A colorful array of soda pop signs will be auctioned during the four-day series, including porcelain, tin and neon rarities that advertise a variety of brands, from Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola and Dr. Pepper to lesser-known brands like Whistle, Vess and Orange Kist. One of the best of all known intact examples of a porcelain-and-neon “Dog n Suds” roadside sign is complete with its flashing-bulb arrow topper. With spectacular colors and visual appeal that is second to none, this massive 104- by 93-inch sign from the Knudsen collection is graded 8.75+ out of 10 and is estimated at $20,000-$35,000.
Morphy’s Sept. 30, 2022 auction of the Bobby Knudsen Jr Collection of World-Class Automotive, Gas & Oil and Soda Pop Advertising; followed by the Oct. 1-3, 2022 Automobilia, Petroliana & Railroadiana Auction will start each day at 9 a.m. Eastern Time.
Bid absentee or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers. For questions about any item in the auction, call 877-968-8880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/