DENVER, Pa. – For well over a century, the partnership of commercial art and groundbreaking technology has propelled American companies to global prominence by means of advertising signs. Whether depicting popular mascots like Mobil’s Pegasus and Sinclair’s Dino, or the neon-illuminated likenesses of automobiles and gasoline logos, signage is a classic form of Americana that shows off the best of our nation’s ingenuity.
Advertising collectors from coast to coast, and beyond, revel in the opportunity to bid in Morphy Auctions’ exciting Automobilia & Petroliana sales, the next of which is scheduled for May 13-14. While Morphy’s continues to comply fully with state and federal guidelines for businesses during the pandemic, the auction is primed and ready to run with the precision of a finely tuned Ferrari. A beautiful, fully illustrated catalog appears on LiveAuctioneers, which will facilitate absentee and Internet live bidding for the sale.
Featured: Super-rare Harbor Petroleum and Rebel Oil signs; very first (1906) Virginia license plate #1, visible gas pumps, Pacific Bait & Tackle neon ‘leaping fish’ sign
More than 800 premium-quality examples of gas, oil and automobile-related collectibles are lined up and waiting to step into the spotlight on auction day. The breakdown includes 530 signs, 35 gas pumps, 46 gas pump globes, 51 cans, 30 license plates, and dozens of additional items.
Among the top signs in the sale is an elusive circa-1940s porcelain sign (shown at top of page) that advertises Harbor Petroleum Products, of Long Beach, California. Boasting 8.9+ condition, the eye-catching sign exhibits outstanding color and high gloss with an image of a Boeing 314 Clipper airplane coasting over water. Measuring 39 by 35 inches, it is estimated at $40,000-$60,000.
Another acknowledged rarity is 72-inch (dia.) double-sided round porcelain service station sign issued by Rebel Gasoline & Motor Oil. In 8.75+ condition, it bears the image of a Confederate Flag with the brand name “REBEL OIL” emblazoned on both sides. Estimate: $15,000-$25,000
The neon section is led by two outstanding signs, including one that promotes Pacific Bait & Tackle. With Art Deco styling and letters that illuminate in four colors on each side, the focal point is a painted, neon-outlined fish leaping from a neon-detailed body of water. This visually appealing West Coast sign is expected to reach $15,000-$25,000 at auction.
The second highlight of the neon section is a 61- by 54-inch two-piece Shell Gasoline porcelain sign that retains all four original mounting brackets. Morphy Auctions’ founder and president Dan Morphy observed, “This is one of the best examples of its type that we’ve ever offered. It would be very hard to upgrade.” The pre-sale estimate is $9,000-$13,000.
A Sinclair Aircraft Gasoline one-piece baked globe with shadowed lettering and a crisp biplane graphic is set to soar on auction day. Finished in bright red and graded 8.0, it comes to auction with a $6,000-$10,000 estimate. Another perennial favorite in the petroliana hobby, a rare 13.5-inch Husky Gasoline single-globe gas pump lens on Gillco milk glass body dates to the 1940s. As the brand name suggests, the company mascot is an endearing husky dog, whose image appears on both sides of the globe against a radiant backdrop of the midnight sun in sunset orange and yellow. Its estimate is $4,000-$6,000.
Displaying perfection from every angle, a restored 1930s Satam twin 2.5-gallon cylinder Mo4 visible gas pump is hand-painted in Texaco livery and stands 108 inches high. It is complete with its original handle, two original cylinders, and very nice original brass tags. “There are no apologies needed for the condition of this pump. The restoration work was completed to an extremely high standard,” said Dan Morphy. Estimate: $15,000-$25,000.
Additionally, a finely restored Wayne 50 illuminating showcase gas pump with Super Shell one-piece cast globe, Shell side decals, and central glass shelving is entered with a $12,000-$20,000 estimate.
Of the 30 license plates in the sale, the most valuable is a 1906 porcelain plate #1, the very first one issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Absolutely unique and authentic, it is accompanied by an extensive archive of supportive documentation. Morphy’s catalog notes that only one or two true #1 license plates exist from any of the United States. An absolute gem, the Virginia plate could command $20,000-$40,000 at auction.
Also noteworthy is District of Columbia Inaugural license plate #10 from 1933, the first year that DC issued plates to commemorate presidential inaugurations (in this case, FDR’s). Estimate: $7,500-$12,500
Morphy’s Wednesday/Thursday, May 13-14, 2020 Automobilia & Petroliana Auction will start at 10 a.m. ET, with absentee and Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers. For additional information on any item or to arrange for a private gallery preview, call 877-968-8880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.