Penn antique auction offers soda, fountain pens and furniture


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No country store collection is complete without the large front counter displaying bulk seeds. Photo courtesy Rich Penn Auctions

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The November Rich Penn Auction Event can deliver both. With just weeks before Christmas, it’s time to start thinking about that visit from Santa. A trip to the Rich Penn Auction Event at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, can surely help get you in the spirit. The auction is scheduled for Nov. 6-7 and includes more than 1,000 lots, all without reserve. According to Penn, “This fall’s auction brings to market an incredible array of fresh merchandise. All just in time for Christmas and includes some unbelievably rare and unique items.” Among that array may be the largest and most complete collection of rare soda vending machines and coolers ever brought to market at one time. When Santa stops by, drop in a nickel or a dime and you can serve him a cold soda from a number of different brands of soda machines: Coca-Cola, 7-Up, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and even several very rare Royal Crown Cola machines. All will be available. All in wonderful original or professionally restored condition.

“At our Rock ‘n Ride at Riverside Auction we sold a portion of the late Bill Powers estate from Clinton, Iowa,” said Penn. “We’ll continue selling from his collection this November.” Powers collected cars in all sizes, from toy Cadillacs to full-size models. Penn will be selling both. Powers also collected vintage and classic fountain pens and the auction has many to choose from. From vintage Parker Duofolds and 1950s Lifetime Sheaffers to contemporary names like Mont Blanc, Pelikan, S.T. Dupont and others, you may select from a variety of impressive pens.

According to Penn, Powers was truly eclectic in his interests. One of the pieces in his collection that didn’t seem to fit with anything else was a very rare Abraham Lincoln deathbed carte de visite. The small size card, 2 3/8 inches by 3 5/8 inches, had a photographic image reproducing an engraving by J. L. Campbell. The card was produced and sold by Crater’s Union Photographic Gallery at 55 Clark St. in Chicago. This pieces was a common mourning piece sold after Lincoln’s death. Its condition shows its age but the image is quite good. And the 1865 image is uncommon in that it gives unusual prominence to Lincoln’s War Secretary Edwin Stanton, who stands almost facing the viewer of the card. Bill Powers, living just across the Mississippi river from Illinois, no doubt uncovered this piece in Lincoln’s homeland. It makes the variety in his collection all the more interesting.

A Rich Penn Auction Event wouldn’t be complete without also having a great variety of country store and advertising items. This auction will be no exception. With large collections from the Eastern U.S., bidders will have a great selection of spool cabinets, trade signs, advertising clocks, thermometers, display cases and cabinets, store counters, many lots of store stock and a variety of tins. Among the unusual tins is a circa 1928 Monarch Teenie Weenie Toffies tin in the largest (150) package size. While showing a few bruises, the great graphics are still in very good condition. Among the advertising signs are a number of strong brewery pieces including an early Frank Fehr (Louisville, Ky.) Bock Beer 31 inches wide by 41 inches high framed  paper litho sign and an Anheuser-Bush horsehair plaster sign, 22 inches high by 30 inches wide.

In those earlier times, just like the 1940s story told in the classic Darren McGavin movie, “A Christmas Story,” every young boy like “Ralphie” asked Santa for a Red Ryder BB gun; bidders will have dozens of Red Ryders to choose from. Many are still in the original boxes. And if a Red Ryder isn’t on your list, there are other rare Daisys to choose from as well. But there’s more. If your letter to Santa includes a Lionel train, there’s help here too. With several Standard gauge pieces to choose from, your tree can be well-decorated and filled with action underneath. Fill in around the trains and Red Ryders with mechanical and still banks, mannequins, cast iron and pressed steel Keystone and Buddy L toys, wagons, tin windups and dozens of automotive toys, including Japanese 1950s friction cars and many AMT scale model cars. You can expect a whole lot more to put under your Christmas tree than just a Red Ryder.

For the bigger boys and girls there’s a very stylish Brunswick “Centennial” pool table in excellent condition. Made circa 1945, the table comes with a companion piece, the Brunswick revolving wall cue rack. The table is described by Brunswick in their promotional literature as “… a striking modern design that utilizes handsome aluminum … and selected cabinet woods.” The table reflects the latest in high-end industrial styling of the post-war period and would be a fashionable addition to even the most modern game room today.

Perhaps the most unique piece to be offered at Penn’s fall auction is a piece that definitely wouldn’t fit under the tree. But it would be a nice companion piece for your Christmas dinner table. Having spent the last 60 years in a Masonic lodge in a small Midwestern town, this massive 8 1/2-foot tall etagere belonged to a diplomat, George Frederick Parker, U.S. Consul to Birmingham, England, in 1897. When he returned home in the early 1900s, he had it shipped to New York. The piece ended up being gifted by his brother Walter to the Masonic lodge in the 1950s. It has been faithfully cared for and preserved in excellent original condition. Members have now decided it’s time to find the magnificent piece a new home. Constructed in rosewood, it’s a tour de force of the English cabinet maker’s inlay skills. Along with this disposition, the lodge included a number of pieces of Mission Oak lodge furniture and lodge columns.

For the sporting Santa that likes coin-operated machines, there will be many options to collect that pocket change. From soda, peanut and gum vending machines, to rare trade stimulators and slot machines, there are pieces for both the beginner and advanced collector. “At our Weber Bros. auction we offered our onsite bidders the exclusive opportunity to bid on items only offered to them. We had a very positive response, so we’re doing it again.” The first hour of both the Saturday and Sunday sessions will be for onsite bidders only. From 9-10 a.m. there will be no Internet or absentee bidding. That hour will include a great variety of box lots of advertising, store stock and other smalls,” Penn said. Preview for the Nov. 6-7 sale at the Elwell Family Food Center on the Iowa State fair grounds is from 2-6 p.m. Nov. 5. Penn will accommodate absentee and telephone bidding and each session is broadcast for live Internet bidding through both iCollector and ProxiBid. Streaming video can be accessed from Penn’s website. A color catalog or a complimentary flyer may be ordered at 319-291-6688. Additional information is available at www.richpennauctions.com. ?



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Arguably the most unique item in Rich Penn's Nov. 6-7 auction is this etagere once owned by U.S. Diplomat George Frederick Parker. He served as consul to Birmingham, England, in 1897. When he returned home in the early 1900s, he had it shipped to New York. The piece was gifted by his brother Walter to a Masonic lodge in the 1950s. The piece, over 8-feet tall, is a tour de force of the English cabinet maker's inlay skills.

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