ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A monumental mahogany front and back bar made about 1893 by Brunswick, Balke & Collender Co., the desirable Los Angeles model and with an original matching liquor cabinet, soared to $302,500 at the living estate of Ron Wallace – a dedicated collector and former president of UPS – held Oct. 2-4 at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The three-day auction was held by Showtime Auction Services, based in nearby Woodhaven. The front and back bar was one of the top earners of about 1,700 lots that changed hands in a sale that grossed around $2.2 million. “It was our best auction ever in terms of average dollar amount per lot,” said Mike Eckles of Showtime Auction Services. “It was a very successful sale with several records set.”
One of those records was the front and back bar – 24 feet in wide and 11 feet tall, with hand-carved, life-size nude supports between beveled mirrors, each weighing 140 pounds and standing 5 feet 4 inches tall. The matching liquor cabinet had adjustable shelves and a zinc-like base. “We’ve only seen two of these bars in 25 years, and only one with a matching original liquor cabinet,” Mr. Eckles said.
Another record was established for saloon doors when a set made circa 1902, also by Brunswick, Balke & Collender Co., brought $77,000. The solid mahogany swinging saloon doors, 96 inches wide by 78 inches tall, were originally from a saloon in Milwaukee and had applied carvings at the top. They were refinished 25 years ago and had a great patina, with beveled glass incorporated in all the panels.
Mr. Wallace, the sale’s headliner, is a larger-than-life figure. He resides in a 44,000-square-foot home in suburban Atlanta, where his collections of vintage firearms, advertising, gambling, saloon, brothel and country store items were kept. But the auction also featured a treasure trove of over 1,000 rare and vintage toys, plus barber shop, soda fountain and advertising collectibles, and other items.
About 350 bidders attended the auction in person, while another 100 people bid by phone and 125 others submitted absentee bids. Online bidding was facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.com and iCollector.com, with more than 150 people registered to bid online. “The bidders in attendance had a great time and really enjoyed room hopping at the Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor,” Mr. Eckles said. “We didn’t see much evidence of a recession. People came to spend money.”
Following are additional highlights from the sale. All prices quoted include a 10 percent buyer’s premium.
A rare Gold Medal Oil two-sided porcelain sign, made by Veribrite Signs (Chicago), 30 inches in diameter and one of only three known to exist, realized $44,000; a Rock Island System Railroad reverse glass and mother of pearl inlaid sign, one of only a few known and in excellent condition, went for $33,000; and a rare Ashbury Bar, Jackson Lager reverse glass corner sign (circa 1910) hit $24,150.
A later replica Rolls Royce version of a Moxiemobile car, made in the 1930s and used in parades to promote the soft drink Moxie, topped out at $21,850; a straight razor display case with 18 assorted celluloid handle straight razors, with brass price tags, climbed to $16,500; and a La Preferencia Cigar reverse glass sign in original frame (Tuchfarber Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, 1909) also went for $16,500.
A Consumers Brewing Company label under glass display mug, 10 inches tall, with handle, achieved $15,400 despite some minor flaws; an Early Hazard or Big Six table, with wheel, chip rack, hazard horn and disc (marked Evans, Chicago, Ill.), with claw feet, made $15,400; and gambling ring guns, six-shot, with original bullets and case, in excellent condition, commanded $14,300.
An American National pedal car of a Hudson (Toledo, Ohio, 1932), with original paint and minor scratches, 48 inches long, sped off for $11,000; an extremely rare double roulette table by B.C. Willis Co. (Detroit, Mich.), with William Ellis early layouts, one of only three known, brought $11,000; and an Ivory Poker Buck (circa 1880), with a front that reads “You Deal,” changed hands for $10,350.
A hand-carved Ivory Playing Card Press from the 1880s, with an unusual screw mechanism and the only example known, possibly a gift to a gambling industry executive, rose to $9,350; a prostitute’s garter (circa 1890s), with fancy beaded trim and reading “Oh Stop!” 7 inches, breezed to $8,800; and an Oliver Chilled Plow Wood Sand sign (circa late 1880s), in excellent original condition, realized $7,700.
A Daisy Air Rifles paper banner titled “The Happy Daisy Boy,” with metal bands top and bottom, 14 inches by 21 inches, hit the mark for $7,150; a late 1800s trade sign for Eagle Halls Light Divine Optometrist with visual appeal, 54 inches by 30 inches, fetched $6,600; and a Lucky Strike three-dimensional die-cut quad-fold store window cardboard display with four athletes brought $6,325.
Rounding out the top lots: a cast-iron cigar advertising clock for Katy Flyer Cigars in the shape of a train engine, possibly a one-of-a-kind and an exceptional example of tobacciana, made by Golden Novelty Mfg. Co. (Chicago, Ill.) crossed the finish line at $5,775; and a Will & Finck Faro Case Keeper in a cherry wood frame, with hand-carved boxwood cards, pips and ivory beads, garnered $5,463.
Showtime Auction Services already has four sales lined up for 2010, starting with a catalog auction that ends Jan. 15. Offered will be a diverse selection of country store, advertising and miscellaneous items, in an absentee, phone and Internet only auction. Then, on April 9-11, a live auction will be held at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor.
A summer catalog auction (absentee, phone and Internet bidding only) will end July 9, then the year will conclude with a live fall auction Oct. 1-3, also in Ann Arbor. Like the Apr. 9-11 sale the fall event will feature a nice selection of gambling, coin-op, country store, advertising and miscellaneous items. Absentee, phone and Internet bids will also be accepted.
Showtime Auction Services is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To consign an item, an estate or a collection, call Mike Eckles of Showtime Auction Services at 951-453-2415. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Showtime Auction Services and the upcoming calendar of events slated for 2010, visit www.showtimeauctions.com.
Photos courtesy Showtime Auction Services.
MORE RESOURCES FOR ANTIQUES ENTHUSIASTS
*Great Books, CDs, Price Guides & More
*Share YOUR Thoughts in the Antique Trader Forums
*Check out our FREE Online Classified Ads
*Sign up for your FREE AntiqueTrader.com e-mail newsletter
*Visit the Antique Trader blog for the latest news and views from the Antique Trader editors