Preston Opportunities auction will feature Albert Schlafmann collection

A rare Star Trade Register, an automated music player referred to as “a Rembrandt in the coin-op world” will be the featured lot in the Preston Opportunities Auction March 17-18. The item is just one treat in an auction that promises to reveal some finds.

Much of the auction will be composed of items from a small museum from Turtle Lake, N.D., once owned by collector Albert Schlafmann. It will take two auctions to liquidate the museum, one is scheduled March 17-18 in Newnan, Ga., and the another is set for June 16-17 in Alcester, S.D.

Schlafmann started collecting in 1928, just before he turned 10, and locked the doors to his museum in 1981. He died last year but left a will that ordered the entire museum be sold at auction so that other collectors could enjoy his antiques. Schlafmann built the eclectic museum to depict life of early pioneers of the Dakotas. The collection features more than 100 lamps, clocks and a large collection of mustache cups, shaving mugs, unusual primitives and a variety of glassware.

Schlafmann had a fondness for musical instruments, phonographs and music boxes. His showcases were filled with cylinder music boxes and disk-type players. One model was an Edison M, which was produced by the Thomas Edison Co. in 1898. The coin-operated floor model plays a 4-inch wax record. It will cross the block March 17-18.

Another rare item speaks to Schlafmann’s wide and varying tastes. The auction features an unusual phonograph-playing lamp, a Wurlitzer Band Organ, a bell glockenspiel, a set of “Shaker Chimes” from 1928 and a Pipeolion musical instrument in box.

However, the most unusual item to be included in the March auction may be a 7-foot trade disk-player that spent 90 years in its original shipping crate. The piece, made circa 1903 by the Star Trade Register Co. in Montpelier, Vt., still features its original advertising cards that revolve in the top window of the machine. On his Web site, Evans said the other three known examples of the machine are either restored and secure in a private collection or in a museum.

A Star Trade Register player would operate when a player deposited a nickel in the slot at the top of the machine. The weight of the nickels activate four cast-iron bull wheels that would trigger a disc music box, and a dispenser for trade tokens good for one, two or three cigars. The wheels also would activate a primitive motor that turned an advertising carousel and odds wheel.

Preston Opportunities Auction, 31 Redbud Trail, Newnan, GA 30263. (770) 502-0028. www.prestonopportunities.com.

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