Aetna Insurance Co. reverse glass painted sign with mother of pearl inlay brings $51,300 at auction An Aetna Insurance Company glass painted sign with mother of pearl inlay, 34 inches square and in excellent like-new condition, sold for $51,300 at an auction held April 4-6 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
News-Antique.com - Apr 16,2014 - ANN ARBOR, Mich. – An Aetna Insurance Company (Hartford, Conn.) reverse glass painted sign with mother of pearl inlay, 34 inches square and in excellent like-new condition, sold for $51,300 at a three-day auction event held April 4-6 at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor. The sale was conducted by Showtime Auction Services, based in Woodhaven, Mich.
“That Aetna sign was one of the most impressive reverse glass signs we’ve ever seen, just beautiful,” said Mike Eckles of Showtime Auction Services. The sign tied for top lot of the auction with an El Bart Gin tin sign, housed in the original frame and copyrighted in 1905 by Wilson Distilleries (Kaufman & Strauss Company, N.Y.). That sign also gaveled for $51,300.
In all, more than 1,800 lots from two major collections, plus consignments from over 100 other advanced collectors came up for bid, in an auction that grossed more than $1.3 million. Headlining the event were the lifetime collections of Robert and Janet Straub of Kansas and Neil J. Frick of Michigan. Both collections were very diverse, with items in more than 40 categories.
The auction was a bit different than past Showtime sales, in that live, internet and phone bidding were permitted all three days. “We used to have live-only auctions the first day of each sale, but that won’t be the case any longer,” Eckles said. “From now on, internet bidding will be available the entire time. Real-time bidding has really taken hold, and we’re obligated to make our consignments open to all forms of bidding,” he said.
That said, Eckles was somewhat surprised by the large in-person turnout – around 200 people each day. “There were more folks at this auction than our fall sale,” he remarked, “and because of how we spread out all the categories, the audience kept changing.” He added internet bidding was heavy as well: 2,500 people registered online, via LiveAuctioneers.com and Invaluable.com.
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a buyer’s premium that ranged from 14-20 percent, depending on how the winning bid was placed.
A rare Hires Root Beer, the green version, showing a graphic of the Hires Boy and a price of 5 cents, went for $49,200. The dispenser – 18 inches tall and with no chips or cracks, was stamped “Mettlach 3098” on the bottom. Also, a full-size, bright red 1928 Model A fire hose and ladder truck, fully restored and complete with patriotic banners and ribbons, charged away for $31,200.
Two lots realized identical selling prices of $34,200. The first was a Happy Jap Chewing Gum machine (“Drop One Cent”), patented in 1902, with the original porcelain sign and custom wall bracket (overall 12 inches tall). The second was a Glencoe Brewing Company (Glencoe, Minn.) Vitrolite corner sign (“Uncle Sam Beer”) in great shape and in the original copper flashed frame.
Another beer sign that did exceptionally well was a Yosemite Beer reverse glass sign (Enterprise Brewing Co., S.F.). The sign, in excellent