Skip to content
A Borden’s ice cream porcelain double-sided neon sign achieved $27,000 plus the buyer’s premium in March 2022. Image courtesy of Rockabilly Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.

Bid Smart Recap: Summertime Fun

NEW YORK – Some celebrate the arrival of summer on June 21, the official date of the summer solstice. For others, it doesn’t truly start until the kids are out of school, or when they open their summer house, or when they plant their bare feet on a beach.

Regardless of when it starts, summer has its own ineffable magic that sets it apart. This collection of Bid Smart stories captures its pleasures.

A Borden’s ice cream porcelain double-sided neon sign achieved $27,000 plus the buyer’s premium in March 2022. Image courtesy of Rockabilly Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.
A Borden’s ice cream porcelain double-sided neon sign achieved $27,000 plus the buyer’s premium in March 2022. Image courtesy of Rockabilly Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.

Ice cream is available year-round, but something about summer makes it sweeter. The market for ice cream memorabilia, which takes the form of signage, posters, and scoops, will never melt away.

A Phantom Whizzer motorized bicycle sold for $4,750 plus the buyer’s premium in October 2020. Photo courtesy of Dan Morphy Auctions and LiveAuctioneers
A Schwinn Phantom Whizzer motorized bicycle sold for $4,750 plus the buyer’s premium in October 2020. Photo courtesy of Dan Morphy Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.

The notion of spending a gloriously unsupervised childhood summer outdoors, tearing around on a Schwinn bike with friends, appeals to all ages. Nostalgia for seemingly simpler times powers demand for these colorful symbols of freedom.

An associated circa-1915 pair of rattan rocker armchairs attributed to Heywood Wakefield brought $2,600 plus the buyer’s premium in October 2019. Image courtesy of Rago Arts and Auction Center and LiveAuctioneers.
An associated circa-1915 pair of rattan rocker armchairs attributed to Heywood Wakefield brought $2,600 plus the buyer’s premium in October 2019. Image courtesy of Rago Arts and Auction Center and LiveAuctioneers.

Wicker furniture makes the heat more inviting, and adds elegance to sunrooms, porches, and patios. Pieces range from rockers to chaise longues to full suites of chairs, sofas, and matching low tables.

This pair of Walter Lamb for Brown Jordan chaise lounges went out at $6,500 in February 2019. Photo courtesy of Clars Auction Gallery and LiveAuctioneers.
This pair of Walter Lamb for Brown Jordan chaise lounges went out at $6,500 in February 2019. Photo courtesy of Clars Auction Gallery and LiveAuctioneers.

The furnishings bearing the Brown Jordan brand name have helped blur the boundaries between the indoors and the outdoors since 1946. Collectors continue to clamor for vintage examples.

This Style B half-sheet movie poster for ‘Casablanca’ made $45,000 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2018. Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.
This Style B half-sheet movie poster for ‘Casablanca’ made $45,000 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2018. Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.

Hollywood mastered the trick of luring summer revelers inside with the promise of air-conditioning, popcorn, cold soda, and blockbuster films. Designed to be ephemeral, movie posters are massively popular souvenirs of the silver screen, capable of commanding six figures.

A custom-made hoverboard used for effects shots in ‘Back to the Future: Part II’ achieved $70,000 plus the buyer’s premium in December 2022. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.
A custom-made hoverboard used for effects shots in ‘Back to the Future: Part II’ achieved $70,000 plus the buyer’s premium in December 2022. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.

Scarcer than posters are movie props made and used on-screen in pop-culture classics. The chance to own a literal piece of a favorite film provokes bidders to pledge hefty sums at auction.

Snap Wyatt’s circa-1945 banner ‘Freaks Alive’, measuring 100½ by 342in, sold for $9,500 in November 2018. Image courtesy of Potter & Potter Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.
Snap Wyatt’s circa-1945 banner ‘Freaks Alive’, measuring 100½ by 342in, sold for $9,500 in November 2018. Image courtesy of Potter & Potter Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.

Deliberately lurid in every possible way, circus sideshow banners continue to turn heads. The sideshow is long gone, and some of its most touted attractions, such as tattooed people, have become commonplace, but the surviving banners are lauded as works of 20th-century folk art.

Detail of a maquette, or original poster art, for a Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Combined Circus poster, rendered between the 1910s and the 1930s. Ink and pencil marginal notes state this gouache on paper mounted on poster board was the basis for 16-sheet, nine-sheet, one-sheet, and one-half-sheet posters. The artwork earned $950 plus the buyer’s premium in July 2023. Image courtesy of Potter & Potter Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.
Detail of a maquette, or original poster art, for a Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Combined Circus poster, rendered between the 1910s and the 1930s. Ink and pencil marginal notes state this gouache on paper mounted on poster board was the basis for 16-sheet, nine-sheet, one-sheet, and one-half-sheet posters. The artwork earned $950 plus the buyer’s premium in July 2023. Image courtesy of Potter & Potter Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.

Once upon a time, not long ago, as many as 200 traveling circuses criss-crossed the US, and the undisputed king of them all was Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey. Vintage circus posters, which once lured children of all ages to the Big Top, now represent the excitement and the fun of a bygone era.