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Knott's Berry Farm memorabilia fetches $788,892

Knott's Berry Farm marked the 75th anniversary of its Ghost Town attraction in history-making style, by offering 200+ lots of memorabilia to bidders. The auction, presented by Heritage Auctions, realized $788,892 — 50% more than the total estimate.

BUENA PARK, Calif. — Fans bid $788,892 recently for items from the Ghost Town attraction at Knott's Berry Farm. The public auction of historic archives from America’s first theme park marks 75 years of the Ghost Town attraction. It was presented March 31 by Heritage Auctions

Enjoy a segment of a video, by the Knott's Network, about the history of Knotts Berry Farm....

The 228 lots in the March 31 auction were expected to bring $500,000. However, when the gavel fell, they brought more than 50 percent over the pre-auction estimate. The auction included original paintings by well-known 20th century artists commissioned by park founder Walter Knott. In addition, the selection included theme park props. Also coming up for bid was a 1919-20 Model T Ford, a 1940s fire engine, an 18th century covered wagon.

Knott's Berry Farm Intrigues Bidders

The auction, held in the historic Charles Shultz Theater, saw intense bidding by Southern California collectors attending the event as well as people bidding around the world via HALive! The auction was the first of its kind for the Knott's Berry Farm theme park.

Baldwin Wagon Train Under Attack painting

Top lot of the sale and new auction record for artist Henry H. Cross, this 1898 painting "Baldwin Wagon Train Under Attack", which was commissioned by E. J. "Lucky" Baldwin in 1893, and later purchased by Walter Knott and displayed in Ghost Town of Knott's Berry Farm in the 1940s. (All photos courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

“The value of this extremely rare grouping of antiques and then tying it to Knott’s World class!” said Mike F. Harrah, a major Orange County developer, art collector and floor bidder at the auction. “It was not only fun but rewarding and adds value to a tremendous collection of American history."

Artist Henry H. Cross’ 1898 Baldwin Wagon Train Under Attack from Knott’s Ghost Town sold for $71,700, setting a new artist auction record for the artist. A rare, circa 1940s-50s Ghost Town California or Bust Ghost Town panorama painting by artist Paul von Klieben, who worked directly with Walter Knott as his primary art director during the early years of the park, sold to the floor at $10,157. The two collaborated on the 151-inch-by-57-inch mural of a wagon train that became synonymous with this popular Knott's Berry Farm attraction. Additional von Klieben Old West artworks drawing significant bidder interest included Under Attack, which sold for $3,346; Through the Desert, a painting for the Ghost Town exhibit sold for $3,346 and On Schedule, from 1953 ended at $4,780.

1940s Locomotive Cruises to $40K Finish

The auction also offered several vehicles such a 1940 Jennie KI steam-powered locomotive, which ended at $40,630; a 1919 Model T car purchased by Walter Knott in 1956 for the Ghost Town display, sold to a floor bidder for $37,045; a 1940s Seagrave-type Fire Engine changed hands at $31,070; the park’s Ford Custom Two Bucked Seat Hot Rod Roadster sold for $21,510; a 1965 "tricked out" Monster Halloween Haunt 1965 Hearse sold for $17,925; and a historic 1800s antique Knott's Berry Farm park-displayed covered wagon, sold for $9,560.

Familiar signage ranged from a 1954 "Haunted Shack" Ghost Town Sign, which sold for $8,962 to a

Jennie KI locomotive

Steam-powered Jennie KI locomotive, circa 1940, sold for $40,630.

1960 Calico Mine Ride sign from the first major ride at Knott's Berry Farm, which saw intense interest from floor bidders who pushed the final price to $4,780.

A number of vintage park attractions included one of the largest selections of antique coin-operated player pianos and coin-operated games to come to market in recent memory. Features included rare games, such as a circa 1904 Caille Brothers Double Slot Machine, which sold for $38,249; 1910 Washington Scale Caille Bros. coin-op machine, which sold for $11,352; and a “Voodoo Dance” Coin-Op Arcade Machine sold for $10,456. A selection of antique player pianos included a 1920s Coinola Player Piano, which sold for $7,170 and a 1910 Creamona coin op Player Piano, which sold for $3,824.

“Fans around the world turned out to celebrate the rich history of America’s first theme park,” said Jim Lentz, Consignment Director for Heritage Auctions. “It was an impressively large live audience for the sale and that only speaks to the enduring memories people have of this important, historical archive.”

For more information, visit or call 877-HERITAGE (437-4824)

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