The Beacon Gasoline (“a Caminol Product”) sign boasted great gloss and color, with just a few tiny flea bites around the perimeter. “I had never sold a Beacon sign at auction, that’s how rare this piece was, so it didn’t surprise me when it brought that much,” said Dan Matthews of Matthews Auctions, adding, “Arms were shooting up everywhere. It was a real bidding war.”
As it happened, the sign’s rarity and fabulous condition pretty much set the tone for many other lots in the sale. “It was the best and highest-grossing sale in the history of the company,” Matthews said, “and I attribute that to the quality and rarity of the items. That, and a healthy mix of aggressive, determined bidders who came in person or participated online and via the phones.”
Over the course of the two days, around 650 lots came up for bid – mostly petroliana and advertising signs. About 200 people attended the auction live, while another 450 registered to bid online via Proxibid.com. Many phone and absentee bids were also tallied. Matthews said while most of the bidders were American, bids also came in from Canada, Australia, Europe and Asia.
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 10 percent buyer’s premium.
A scarce Harbor Petroleum Products single-sided porcelain die-cut sign with seaplane graphics, rated 8.5 and measuring 39 inches by 35 inches, with fine gloss and color but with a chip in the center of the field, garnered $40,700; and a 1933 Cadillac and LaSalle (V8/V12/V16)
A hard-to-find Peerless Stages Bus Depot double-sided porcelain die-cut sign, showing a graphic of a late 1930s General Motors bus, rated 8.5 and 8, 36 inches by 30 inches, advertising a company that only operated in the San Francisco Bay area, rose to $17,050; and a Graham Paige Service tin flange sign with good color and shine, rated 8.25 and 6, exhibiting wear, hit $15,950.
One other lot topped the $10,000 mark: a Hudson Terraplane (“Hudson Sixes & Eights”) double-sided porcelain sign, marked Walker & Company, rated 9.5, with super gloss and color ($14,300). Also, a British Dominions Authorized Service Agent single-sided porcelain sign, with graphic of an early open wheel car and driver, rated 7.75, 60 inches by 40 inches, made $9,350.
Another lot that also garnered $9,350 was a Ferrari single-sided porcelain self-framed sign, rated 9.5 and 34 inches by 18 inches, with a great back-story. According to legend, Enzo Ferrari gave the sign to Matt Kallens in 1959 when Kallens’s father purchased a new car directly from the factory in Italy. The sign has the iconic Ferrari horse logo and was last bought in 1991.
Two lots logged identical prices of $8,800. The first was a circa 1920 Stutz Authorized Service Genuine Parts (“The Car That Made Good in a Day”) double-sided porcelain sign, rated 8.25 and 7.9, one of only a few known. The other was a Texaco (white-“T”)
A Jenny Gasoline and Auto Oils 15-inch single lens in a new HP metal globe body, showing a factory scene and in very good condition, rated 9, with just a little minor rub, went for $7,975. Also, a Michelin Tires metal display holder and single-sided tin sign, showing Bibendum (“The Michelin Man”) holding and playing a drum, rated a near-mint 9+, topped out at $7,700.
A United Motor Service double-sided porcelain arrow-shaped die-cut sign with early touring car logo, both sides rated 9.5, 17 inches by 42 inches, a fine example but with a small bend in the arrow, climbed to $7,700; and an Americn-Bosch Sales & Service single-sided porcelain sign with logo, rated 9+ and 8.9, marked both sides “Made in USA,” realized $4,950.
A seldom-seen version of a Cletrac Crawler Tractors single-sided porcelain sign with Crawler graphics, rated 8.9 with some routine chips, 18 inches by 22 inches, hammered for $4,950; and a Seaside Gasoline double-sided porcelain die-cut triangular-shaped sign with seagull logo, 30 inches by 30 inches, a wonderful example rated 8.9, changed hands for $7,150.
An original and hard-to-find Porsche Stuttgart single-sided porcelain shield-shaped sign with crest, made circa 1960s, measuring 18 inches by 13 ½ inches, rated 9.5, breezed to $4,950; and a Francisco Auto Heater single-sided tin self-framed sign (“Summer Here All the Year”), 18 inches by 40 inches, rated 9.25, a great sign in excellent condition, changed hands for $7,150.
A DeVoe Motor Car Finish counter-top display with a single-sided tin sign and wooden display pieces, showing open car graphics and logos, rated 8, 18 inches by 17 inches by 5 inches, realized $4,950; and a pair of Pabst Blue Ribbon single-sided porcelain signs mounted back-to-back with lighted canopy showing original paint and glass panels “on draft”, rated 9+, hit $4,125.
A Certified Garages of America Association (“and Authorized Member by Invitation”) double-sided porcelain sign, rated 9.75, 23 inches by 18 inches, marked Baltimore Enamel, sold for $4,070; and a seldom-seen Hercules Gasoline 80 Special porcelain pump plate sign, rated 9.5, 12 inches in diameter, exhibiting super gloss and color, went to a determined bidder for $3,740.
On Wednesday, Apr. 3, Matthews Auctions, LLC will conduct an Internet-only auction, featuring around 250 lots of toys (many of them automobile-related)
After that, the firm will hold a soda pop, country store and petroliana auction Apr. 20-21 in Raymond, Ill. Matthews Auctions is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign a single item, an estate or an entire collection, you may call them toll-free at (877) 968-8880, or you can send an e-mail directly to Dan Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Matthews has written a book about petroliana, titled The Fine Art of Collecting Petroliana. For information on how to order a copy, please log on to the Matthews Auctions, LLC website, at www.matthewsauctions.com. For more information about Matthews Auctions, LLC, and the firm’s calendar of upcoming auctions, log on to www.matthewsauctions.com.