1906 Rock Island Railroad sign steams to $71,500 at Showtime Auction An 8-foot-long 1906 Rock Island Railroad reverse glass train sign brought $71,500 at a sale held Sept.30-Oct. 2 by Showtime Auction Services at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor, Mich.
News-Antique.com - Oct 11,2011 - (ANN ARBOR, Mich.) – An 8-foot-long 1906 Rock Island Railroad reverse glass train sign brought $71,500 at an auction held Sept.30-Oct. 2 by Showtime Auction Services, at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor. It was a new auction record for an 8-foot Rock Island sign, more than doubling the previous record of $30,000. It was also the top lot of the sale.
If a Rock Island Railroad sign rings a bell, it’s because another sign for the same railroad, also from around the turn of the century but of a different size and look, soared to $165,000 at Showtime’s last big auction, held April 1-3, also in Ann Arbor. It was the most ever paid for an advertising sign, a record that still stands today. Both signs were housed in original gilt frames.
The 8-foot sign (99 inches by 24 inches overall) was designed by the same maker of the Pullman Car chandeliers. It was given to the Western Sandblasting Company in Chicago, with a contract to produce 50 more. It is also quite possibly the only one with verbiage on the original frame and sign. It was considered highly desirable to collectors, with the train in the foreground.
The auction attracted around 250 people a day on the first two days and about 200 people on the last day. Internet bidding (facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.com and iCollector.com) was brisk, with nearly 1,500 online bidders (a record for Showtime). Phone and absente bids were also recorded. Overall, close to 2,000 lots changed hands in an auction that grossed $1.6 million.
“This was our biggest and best fall auction ever, no doubt,” said Michael Eckles of Showtime Auction Services. “I was very pleased with the level of Internet bidding activity, which I know was driven by factors such as increased travel costs and the hassles of airport security. But the in-house crowd was great, too, and they really got into the spirit of the event.”
Headlining the auction was the lifetime country store, advertising and toy collection of Mike and Colleen Empey. The sale also featured barber shop, coin-op, gambling, folk art, toys, banks, Coca-Cola and other soda, gum, candy, firearms and gunpowder, tobacciana, coffee, salesmen’s samples, whiskey, breweriana, petroliana, automobilia, match safes and pedal cars.
Following are additional highlights from the sale. All prices quoted include a 10 percent buyer’s premium for in-house sales or an 18 percent buyer’s premium for Internet bidders.
A circa-1880s Cigar Store Indian attributed to Thomas Brooks, 69 inches tall, in excellent condition, brought $49,500; a Yuengling’s Beer reverse glass sign, made by the John L. Dawes Mfg. Co. (Pottsdown, Pa.), in near-mint condition, realized $43,125; and a Moose Beer reverse glass sign, made by Duluth & Malting Brewing Co. (Duluth, Minn.), near-mint, rose to $38,500.
An extremely rare John Deere sand and wood one-sided sign, one of only two known and in excellent condition, breezed to $14,960; a rare oak six-foot double tower showcase with nickel corners (69 inches by 35 inches), in