Rare Old Abe Case Agency sign could soar upward of $9,000

DUBLIN, Ohio – Hundreds of examples of petroliana and automobilia – to include porcelain and tin signs, countertop displays, cardboard advertising, globes and more – will come up for bid on Saturday, June 23, when Matthews Auctions LLC, based in Nokomis, Ill., holds its annual Check the Oil Show auction in Dublin, Ohio.

vintage advertising sign

Case Agency tin flange sign with Old Abe the eagle mascot graphic, rated 9 ($7,000-$9,000). Photo courtesy Matthews Auctions

The 2012 auction will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel, in the northwest corner of metro Columbus, on the second day of the popular Check the Oil Gas & Oil Show, an annual gathering of petroliana and automobilia enthusiasts from around the country.

Four items in particular are expected to generate strong bidder interest. One is a rare Case Agency tin flange sign, rated 8.9 out of 10 for condition and measuring 24 inches by 16 inches (estimate $7,000-$9,000). The sign features great graphics, with Old Abe (the Case Agency mascot) perched on a world globe. The sign is clearly marked “The H.D. Beach Co., Coshocton, Ohio.”

Old Abe was an eaglet that Chippewa Indians in Wisconsin found and kept as a pet after felling a tree in 1861. When the young bird got too big to keep, the Indians traded it for a bushel of corn to a man who later joined Company C of the Eighth Wisconsin Regiment during the Civil War. He brought the eagle, who he named Old Abe, into battle and kept him as a mascot.

After the war, the story of Old Abe reached Jerome Case, a businessman, who adopted Old Abe as the symbol of his business. The Case Agency was the automotive division of the J.I. Case Co., which in 1910 purchased the Pierce Motor Co. and renamed the cars Case. Case produced cars from 1911-1926, including the Jay-Eye-See Brougham and the Touring-Y.

vintage Sunoco Motor Oil

Sunoco Motor Oil display with two glass inserts, three oil bottle racks and 18 bottles with spouts.

The second item is a framed photo of the United States Airship Akron, built by the Goodyear Zeppelin Corp. The photo, signed by the photographer, Margaret Bourke White, had been given to the winner of a Goodyear tire sales contest in 1931. It shows the “USS Akron” and the airship dock where it was built. The photo is expected to realize $5,000 to $7,000. Measuring 20 inches by 26 inches, the photo is housed in a frame made of Duralumin, the same material used to make the framework of the airship. The “USS Akron” was a helium-filled rigid airship of the U.S. Navy and served as a flying aircraft carrier made for launching F9C Sparrowhawk bi-plane fighters.

The third item of interest is a Red Rooster Fruit and Produce single-sided porcelain sign, 20 inches in diameter, which rates 9 out of 10 ($5,000-$7,000).

And the fourth lot sure to generate bidder buzz is an exceedingly rare Texaco Easy Pour Can single-sided porcelain sign, advertising the 2-quart sized can and boasting great graphics ($6,000-$8,000). The 15-inch by 16-inch piece is rated 9-plus.

vintage advertising sign

Rare Texaco Easy Pour single-sided porcelain sign in great shape, rated 9+ ($6,000-$8,000).

Rounding out just some of the day’s expected top lots: a rare United Motor Service two-piece single-sided porcelain sign, made for neon with articulating wheels, 58 inches by 96 inches, rated 7.5 with excellent gloss and color; and a McCormick-Deering Service double-sided porcelain sign with radiator graphics and great gloss and color, 24 inches by 32 inches, rated 8.5.

Bidders will have the choice of attending the auction live, or online through Proxibid.com and Auctionzip.com. Phone and absentee bids will also be accepted. The first gavel is scheduled to come down promptly at 11 a.m. (EST).

For more information, visit Matthews Auctions.

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Petroliana collectors resource:

The Fine Art of Collecting and Displaying Petroliana by Daniel K. Matthews

The Fine Art of Collecting and Displaying Petroliana
By Daniel K. Matthews

This book of Petroliana collectables has been written with everyone in mind from the novice collector, just getting started, all the way to the seasoned collector with hundreds of items already in his/her repertoire. This book can help those new to the hobby by giving them and idea of what is actually out there, how to identify their items, and how much they are worth. On the other end of the spectrum, advanced collectors, can use this book to refine their collecting skills. They can get a better idea of how to rate items and how condition and rarity can greatly affect value.

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