Massive Missouri collection of cars and memorabilia up for bids Oct. 21-23

By Old Cars Weekly Staff

Missouri collector of 200,000+ items

A Missouri collector spent most of his life collecting anything related to automobiles. The giant collection is now owned by Robert Parker, who will begin auctioning it off in October at the building where the collection has been kept in St. James, Mo. (All photos courtesy St. James Auction, www.stjamesauction.com)

Robert Parker wouldn’t be a bit surprised if buyers walk away with a few items he didn’t even know he had at his Oct. 21-23 car and collectible memorabilia sale.

Surprises continue to occur as Parker and team investigate and catalog the items of the huge stash. Bidders planning to attend the event in Springfield, Mo. will be treated to a special view of the collection, in the place where it has been assembled The big event will be held in Springfield, Mo., at the site where the collection has been assembled and displayed.

“I’ve been going up there for a few days every week, and when I start moving stuff around I keep finding more stuff I didn’t even know was in there,” laughs Parker.
“It’s just unbelievable. It’s probably the largest group of memorabilia ever. I’ve been to a lot of places that have really good stuff. There are guys out there who have really nice collections, but this is really nice stuff and stuff you never find anywhere.”

Kicking Things Off With Sale of the “bigs”

Parker, who runs the Robert Parker Motor Co., a used car and collector car dealership in Fayetteville, Ark., figures his new collection numbers between 200,000 and 220,000 items — some estimates have the figure as high as 250,000. He is making his first steps toward liquidating the massive collection by selling off about 2,500 lots of what he calls “the bigs” at the Oct. 21-23 auction. After that he will probably continue to find new homes for the rest of the items and possibly hold more auctions, but for now he’s focusing on all the big items, including about 26 collector vehicles.

The vehicles up for bids will include: a restored 1931 Ford Model A roadster pickup; restored 1935 Chevy Maser Deluxe; 1941 Buick two-door sedanette; 1948 Lincoln continental; 1949 Hudson Super 6 sedan; 1960 Triumph TRCA roadster; and a variety of other vehicles.

The bulk of the sale will be petroliana and Americana lots, including an amazing assortment of pedal

Classic cars

One of about 25 classic cars slated to cross the auction block during the sale.

cars; Cushman scooters; bicycles; original and reproduction signs; gas pumps; unopened oil cans; metal toys and cars; and even a handful of vintage motorcycles.

“There are signs all the way to the ceiling all the away around the building,” Parker noted. “There’s over 100 pedal cars … and I think a couple pedal cars back to the ’20s. There are two bi-plane pedal cars made out of wood and they are gorgeous — just unbelievable… Three Standard Oil signs that are gigantic … There is almost every kind of oil company [represented] and some of the signs are pristine and some of them are well-used. I like the well-used ones that have a little character to them…. I’ve got probably every kind of wind-up toy you could ever find. Cases and cases and cases of oil — Cushman oil, Harley Davidson oil … There’s enough oil that I’d never have to buy another quart of oil in my life.”

How the Collection Came to Be

In the course of the past five decades a St. James area collector assembled the collection. It’s housed the collection in a building along I-44 about an hour’s drive from St. Louis. At age 83, the collector decided to part with the collection and Parker bought the whole thing. Until recently, Parker, who routinely drives by the location, didn’t even know the fabulous assemblage even existed.

“When I pulled in and saw everything, I was just dumbfounded,” he said. “He’s been collecting all this stuff since he was young, and he’d open the building up and charge people 5 bucks to come in and look around. He’d sell a few things, but mostly he just kept collecting. If it had anything to do with automobiles or the 1950s or ’60s, he collected it. And it wasn’t just piled in there. He had it all set up nice. There must be 200 to 300 stuffed toys that he’d use to set on the displays of bicycles and pedal cars. He had everything all arranged.”

Parker noted that the vehicles are all in good condition and all run.

“I’d say $35,000 would probably buy the high-dollar car,” he said. “We’ve got them all running and new gas and batteries in them. They have all just been sitting around.”

Bidding will begin at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 21 and Saturday, Oct. 22 on memorabilia lots, followed both days by vehicle lots at 1 p.m. Memorabilia lots will continue Sunday at 10 a.m. with motorcycles and Cushman scooters starting at 1 p.m. The event will be held at 21699 County Road 3644 in St. James.

For more information on the sale, visit www.stjamesauction.com, or Maynard’s Auction Service at 417-326-9450.

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