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6 classically cool general store collectibles

For years the general store served as the place to connect with the community and purchase day-to-day necessities. Here are six fantastic examples of general store collectibles....

a By Antoinette Rahn

Country store/general store collectibles is a popular collecting category. It's a rich cross-over collectible. It attracts collectors of various areas of interest: Advertising, science and technology, coin-operated devices, tobacciana, and soft drinks, just to name a few.

Fontaine's To Bring General Store Treasures

Coming up Oct. 14, during Fontaine’s Auction Gallery’s Catalog Antique & Estate Auction, various objects with ties to the general store collecting interest will cross the auction block. Here are six classic examples:

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• This printed linen sign promoting Finzer’s Old Honesty brand of tobacco chew takes a decidedly patriotic spin in its advertising message. A figure resembling ‘Uncle Sam’ appears with a bald eagle. A box of Finzer’s Old Honesty tobacco sits between them. The company “Five Brothers Tobacco Works (John Finzer & Bros.)” produced the Old Honesty brand of tobacco. The company operated between 1866 and the early 1900s. The company was purchased by American Tobacco Company. This linen sign has a canvas back and a vertical center seam. It reveals signs of paint restoration and wrinkling and tears. It measures 30 inches high by 39 inches wide, and heads into the auction with an estimate of $4,000-$6,000.

Staying Power of Cutouts

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• Another example of tobacco advertising for a general store setting is this Uncle Green’s Cigars cardboard cutout ‘standee.' The figure of Uncle Green appears with his right foot perched on a cigar crate, with a can of cigars in his left hand and a lit cigar in his right. The smoke cloud above the figure’s head states the brand’s slogan “The Thinker’s Smoke.” In excellent condition, the cardboard cutout measures 42 ½ inches high by 20 inches wide and heads into the auction with an estimate of $600-$800.

Delightful Dispensers

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• Not to be outdone by tobacciana items, this Old Highland Advertising Whisky dispenser is poised to cross the auction block with an estimate of $1,000-$1,500. The glass jar sits atop a footed pedestal with a cut glass lid. It features a spire finial and nickel-plated spout in the front. The glass is etched and decorated with a crest of two rampant greyhounds flanking a shield under a crown. The piece is in good condition with minor chipping and flaking along the edges. It measures 30 inches high by 10 inches in diameter.

Dairy & Dogs Unite

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• Hot dogs, anyone? This black Bakelite coated hotdog cooker from Miracle Appliance Company features five pairs of prongs to use in steam hotdogs. The back base of the cooker does double duty serving as an advertising space for “Showalter’s Dairy Products,” and it bears two vintage milk bottles. The device, in working condition, measures 25 inches high by 15 inches wide and 14 inches deep and has an estimate of $500-$700.

Double Duty for Pepsi-Cola

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• The advent of advertising clocks changed the landscape for the companies looking to tout their brand and message, and businesses looking to make the best use of limited space. This wall clock has a neon marquee bubble face. It is from Pepsi-Cola and measures 20 inches in diameter. Electric Neon Co., of Cleveland, Ohio manufactured the clock. Height of production for the company was the 1940s and 50s. The neon advertising clock heads into the auction with an estimate of $800-$1,200.

Classic Coin-Op

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• Last, but certainly not least, is this Groetchen Roto-Matic vendor counter-top trade stimulator. The coin-op device dates to the 1930s. Someone using the coin-op would insert a coin and press a lever, the wheel would rotate to roll the device. The machine bears original paint, tablet and is in working condition, with each coin entered activating dispensation of a gumball. This coin-op has an estimate of $600-$800.

Visit Fontaine’s Auction Gallery to view more lots in this Oct. 14 auction.

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