ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A rare Cigar Store Indian figure, beautifully carved in the 1880s by the renowned artisan Samuel Robb, sold for $94,400 at a three-day auction event held March 30-April 1 by Showtime Auction Services. The sale was held at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor, a venue that’s become the site of choice for Showtime Auction Services.
The five-foot-tall Indian Chief figure had much of its original paint still intact and was in overall excellent condition. It was also the top lot of the sale. “This was one of the best-looking Cigar Store figures we’ve had the pleasure of selling,” said Mike Eckles of Showtime Services, based in Woodhaven, Mich. “It was no surprise to me that it came close to the $100,000 mark.”
The auction featured two blockbusting headliners: the 35-year collection of Al and Peg Araiza, collectors in many categories; and Part 1 of the lifetime pedal car and toy collection of Ed and Christy Ramsey (Part 2 will be sold Oct. 5-7, also by Showtime in Ann Arbor). In all, over 2,000 lots of investment-grade antiques and collectibles changed hands over the weekend.
“It was the most diverse auction we’ve ever had,” remarked Mr. Eckles, “ and also one of the most fun. It was great to have all these collectors representing around 60-70 categories all at one event. Everybody was just chatting, eating, drinking and generally having a good time. As for the auction itself, it was a huge success. Prices were robust, in virtually all the categories.”
About 350 people attended the auction live (a standing room-only crowd), while over 1,500 folks bid online. By the time the last gavel fell and all receipts were tallied, the event grossed around $2 million – not a bad haul in a still rather soft economy.
Following are additional highlights from the auction. Prices quoted include either a 10 percent buyer’s premium for live bidders; 13 percent for credit card purchases; or 18 percent for telephone and absentee bidders. About 150 telephone bids were recorded.
- A Rock Island Railroad reverse glass sign, 90 inches by 26 inches and saying” Rock Island Lines” on the glass and “Rocky Mountain Limited to Colorado” on the frame, in super condition, brought $60,500; and an extremely rare Bufffalo Brand Salted Peanuts two-sided outdoor wood sand sign, 10 ½ feet by 11 inches, possibly the only one in existence, hit $26,400.
- A horse race wheel of fortune with very rare reverse glass layout and table (with an odds maker) went to a determined bidder for $31,900. The wheel boasted reverse glass painted panels, two of which had minor cracks. Otherwise the piece was in excellent condition. The table came with a glass layout (rarely seen), and the horses painted on the glass matched those on the wheel.
- A Winchester “Factory Loaded Shells – Sold Everywhere” cloth banner, made by the Acme Sign Co. (Dayton, Oh.), 10 feet by 2 feet, with some tattering at the edges, the only one known, realized $22,420; and a Red Indian Stogies “3 For 5” cigar tin (for 50 cigars), made by the Meekin Can Co. (Cincinnati) for David M. Zolla, Distributor (Chicago) garnered $15,400.
- A Rock-Ola jukebox, Commando Model 1420, one of the most dramatic and colorful of all the jukeboxes ever produced, hammered for $20,650. The reverse painted example with glass pilasters was nearly all original and had been nicely restored by John Papa. Other jukeboxes sold included a Rock-Ola Model 1426, a Wurlitzer Model 1400 and the popular Wurlitzer Model 915.
- A Keystone No. 980 “Ride ‘Em” toy Greyhound bus, mint in the box and made by Keystone Mfg. (Boston, Mass.), in all original condition, with electric headlights, 22 ½ inches long, sped off for $15,400; and an optometrist’s trade sign for Dr. R.A. Esslinger (circa 1910), with the proprietor’s name attached to a par of glasses, cast zinc with original paint, hit $10,450.
- A 30-inch in diameter round porcelain ice cream sign for H. P. Hood & Sons, featuring beautiful color and a cow graphic, in overall great shape save for a few minor flaws, commanded $9,350; and a Watling “Guess Your Weight” nickel scale, made by the Watling Mfg. Co. (1902), 69 inches tall, oak with nickel trim and with the original gambling mechanism, went for $8,800.
- A coin-operated 10-cent cigar vendor with original stenciling on the sides, in excellent all-original working condition, 6 inches by 9 ½ inches by 16 inches, topped out at $8,800; and an exceedingly rare cast iron umbrella stand depicting a swashbuckling figure and complete with an original tray and with most of the original paint intact, in excellent condition, coasted to $8,250.
- A “Used Car Department” outdoor two-sided tin sand sign, with each sign mounted on inner support boards, in 100 percent original condition, 33 inches by 24 ½ inches, hit the mark for $7,975; and a rare National Cash Register Model 6 barbershop-style cash register with an extended oak base, professionally restored and in fine working condition, cashed out at $4,675.
Showtime Auction Services has two events lined up – one in the summer and one in the fall. A Summer Internet Auction will go online in early July and conclude July 28, 2012. Then, on Oct. 5-7, Showtime will conduct a live, telephone, absentee and Internet auction, in Ann Arbor. The sale will feature Part 2 of the Ed and Christy Ramsey pedal car and toy collection and the 50-year collection of Bob Potter, a dedicated hobbyist who accumulated hundreds of items in many fields: fire-related memorabilia, country store, saloon, advertising, barber shop, tobacciana and much more.