Lifetime collections hold rarities up for grabs in antiques auction

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Two major lifetime collections comprising about 1,800 lots in a dizzying array of categories will be sold Oct. 1-3 by Showtime Auction Services at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Headlining the antiques auction will be the collections of Charles and Marianne Sebastian, who amassed hundreds of items over the course of a lifetime before Charles’ passing in 2007.

Also offered will be candy and gum collectibles from the estate of Alan Bitterman, whose father founded the Bitterman Candy Company distribution firm in Kansas City, Kan., in the 1920s.

The collections will feature music boxes, player pianos, juke boxes, country store, advertising, fire fighting, tobacciana, coin-op, saloon, barber shop, soda fountain, petroliana, vintage toys, breweriana, Western, brothel, automobilia, gambling, arcade, Coca-Cola items, showcases, store fixtures, Wave Crest and more.

Two lots are expected to fetch $50,000 or more. One is a circa 1880s Daniel Pabst symphonion music machine, one of only two known, in excellent condition. The piece is signed in three places by Pabst. The other is a gold badge, watch fob, watch and chain in the original box for the president of the Cheyenne Club in Cheyenne, Wyo., with his photo (circa 1900).

Other expected top achievers include a Mills Novelty Company (Chicago, Ill.) Virtuoso Violano (circa 1910), in excellent working condition (estimate $35,000); a 1947 Harley Davidson Knucklehead motorcycle in excellent condition and with just 9,000 miles on the odometer (estimate $30,000); and a nice Wurlitzer Model 71 juke box in excellent playing condition (estimate $12,000).

Four lots are expected to realize $10,000 or more. These include a cast iron Mutoscope with rare American Indian décor; an extremely rare slave trade tin sign for Hudson Rye in the original frame and shadow box; a Holcomb & Hoke popcorn machine with the original peanut roaster; and a jockey’s scale, as seen on “Antiques Roadshow,” appraised at $12,000 to $15,000.   

A Frank Polk slot machine with cowboy figure, one of two in the auction, should fetch $15,000; a Lucky Strike cigarette bubbler sign, the only one known in excellent working order, is expected to garner $7,500; a 1924 American National Paige, in all-original as-found condition, is estimated to hit $5,000, and a circa 1930 Capital Fairy Lamp/Phonograph should also hit $5,000.

Three desirable lots have all been assigned estimates of $3,000. They are a Lionel standard gauge pay-as-you-enter trolley car, very rare and in very good original condition; a very rare Carter’s Mucilage embossed tin sign, with wonderful color and graphics in excellent condition; and a spectacular Sparrows Chocolates embossed tin sign in near-mint condition.

Other expected top lots include a Somerset Candy chalk figure of an Indian in a canoe, with the original hard-to-find base (estimate $3,500); an Alfred J. Brown Seed Co. sign with superb color and graphics (estimate $2,000); a salesman’s sample Wonder Washing Machine, in all-original working condition (estimate $2,500); a Texatone Beer tin serving tray with rare image of a cowgirl on a horse (estimate $2,500); and a Carette toy limousine, made in Germany and as found (estimate $1,500).

The first day of the auction, Oct. 1, will be conducted for a live audience only. The next two days will be open to live bidding, phone and absentee bidding, and Internet bidding (via A preview will be held Oct. 1 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. A complimentary lunch will be served. Auction hours will be from 2-6 p.m. Previews will also be held  Oct. 2-3 from 8-9 a.m. (with auction hours from 9-5).

As with previous major Showtime auctions, this one is expected to attract a crowd of 400 to 500 live bidders. Internet bidding should also be brisk, with 1,200 to 1,500 registered bidders anticipated. Room trading is encouraged, at the venue’s preferred hotel, Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor. For information and reservations, call 734-769-2500 (or visit

The auction will be the last major event of the year for Showtime Auction Services, but already a full slate of sales is planned for the first half of 2011. Things will kick off with a winter absentee auction, which will close Jan. 15. Offered will be approximately 250 lots of country store, advertising, tobacciana, barber shop, soda fountain, gambling, toys, banks and much more.

After that, a spring auction is planned for April 1-3, and it’s already shaping up as one of Showtime’s biggest sales ever. Slated to cross the block will be hundreds of rare and high-quality items, including country store, advertising, Western, Gold Rush, coin-op, gambling, barber shop, soda fountain, toys, banks, cabinets, showcases, store displays and much more.

Then, a summer sale will close July 10, with a wonderful assortment of around 300 antiques and collectibles in categories such as country store, advertising, soda fountain, barber shop, celluloid, gambling, toys, banks, signs, trays, displays, breweriana, tobacciana and much more. All live auctions are conducted at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor.

Showtime Auction Services is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To consign an item, an estate or a collection, you may call Michael Eckles at 951-453-2415. His e-mail address is To learn more about Showtime Auction Services and its upcoming auctions, visit ?


Great books, CDs, price guides & more

Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles 2011 Price Guide

Interact with other antique collectors in Antique Trader’s online forum

Get up-to-date pricing for tens of thousands of antiques & collectibles on – FREE for 1 year – when you join the Collecting Insider Club!

Browse hundreds of FREE online classified ads

Sign up for your FREE email newsletter

For more columns and features for antique dealers, restorers and collectors, get your own subscription to Antique Trader magazine