A very rare, circa 1884 Winchester cartridge board – one of the most sought after, iconic examples of American sporting advertising – hit the mark for $70,800 in an online-only Petroliana & Advertising Auction held April 23rd by Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. The cartridge board was the top earner in a 482-lot auction that grossed $538,581.
All prices in this report are in Canadian dollars and include an 18 percent buyer’s premium.
The Winchester cartridge board, 38 inches tall by 28 inches wide, was a lithographed hardboard with an applied representation of one of Winchester’s earliest lines of ammunition. Few survived intact due to their size and the fact that they were displayed in store windows and areas exposed to light. The one sold was housed in the original frame and was in untouched, original condition.
The rest of the auction featured offerings that appealed to every level of petroliana and advertising enthusiast – fresh-to-the-market, investment-grade advertising signs, tins and related memorabilia from the 1890s to the 1970s. The petroliana, soda and general store advertising signs included many high-grade, seldom-seen examples. These all did well.
“The prices for gas and oil advertising surged at the outset of the pandemic and appear to be holding,” said Ethan Miller, the president and owner of Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. “Signs, gas pumps and even quart cans were bringing strong numbers throughout the day.”
Mr. Miller added, “Diecut porcelain signs are the hottest. The heart-shaped porcelain Carhartt Overalls corner sign sold for over triple the high estimate of $8,000. We are having difficulty predicting where certain signs will sell these days.”
He was referring to the circa 1905 Carhartt’s Overalls corner sign, recently discovered during the liquidation of a longtime business in New Hamburg: Murray’s Clothing & Footwear. The single-sided porcelain sign, graded 9 for condition and 22 inches tall by 18 inches wide, featured a mint green car and was known to have been produced for the Canadian market. It finished at $25,960.
Following are additional highlights from the auction, which had a 100 percent sell-through and attracted nearly 500 registered online bidders, who combined to place a total of 9,930 bids via the Miller & Miller website (www.MillerandMillerAuctions.com) and LiveAuctioneers.com. One in five lots exceeded even their high estimates, a testament to the strength of the market.
A Cities Service Koolmotor double-sided porcelain curb sign, known as the “Kite Sign” for its shape, produced in America in the 1930s and used in the Canadian market, graded 9 for condition, with bold colors and a glossy finish, realized $15,340. Also, a 1947 two-door, right-hand drive MGTC roadster convertible car, a true “survivor” car with just 24,790 actual miles, fully restored in 1982 and with a good engine, sped off for $10,030, which was within estimate.
A Canadian Ford V8 dealer double-sided porcelain sign from the 1930s with the original hanging bracket, exhibiting some chips and losses but still boasting vivid colors and a glossy finish, 35 ¼ inches by 28 inches, changed hands for $15,340; while a World War II-era Canadian Supertest Bennett 541 gasoline pump with a reproduction “High Compression” globe, original ad glass and tagged, “Service Station Equipment Co., Ltd., Toronto, SSE Bennett ECO,” brought $5,310.
A circa 1940 Canadian Coca-Cola Vendo 44 vending machine, mechanically functioning and cooling properly, an outstanding all-original “survivor” with the original side-mounted empties rack, went to a determined bidder for $8,260; while a circa 1950 American Coca-Cola Vendo 44 vending machine, iconic and highly desirable, with the original paint and in original working condition, with some of the embossed raised lettering replaced, sold within estimate for $4,720.
Also from the World of Coke, a monumental 4-foot-by-8-foot single-sided porcelain Coca-Cola sign from 1937, Coke’s largest porcelain sign before World War II restrictions halted steel production, graded a near-perfect 9.5, hammered for $7,670. Also, a Wurlitzer Model 2104 jukebox (American, circa 1957), mechanically functioning and outfitted with an assortment of period records and respective labels, complete with access keys, played a sweet tune for $6,490.
A Canadian, circa 1890 Fortier Tobacco advertising banner – a large cotton tapestry, 96 inches tall by 48 inches wide and featuring images of each of Montreal’s J. M. Fortier cigar brands, all surrounded by detailed imagery – knocked down for $5,310. Also, a single-sided tin sign for Seven-Up, made in America in 1948 and featuring the iconic “bubble girl” graphic on the bottle, 55 inches by 17 inches and made by the Stout Sign Co. (St. Louis), graded 9.5, rose to $5,015.
A plaster cast and wood statue made around 1930 for the Dawes Black Horse Brewery by the famed Woodstock, Ontario sculptor and artist Ross Butler (1907-1995), 18 ½ inches tall and a fine example of a rare variation, went for $5,900; while a rare, tin lithographed Dawes Black Horse match holder, along with two different boxes of Black Horse labeled wooden matches, produced around 100 years ago but the match holder still boasting vivid colors, made $5,015.
Rounding out this short list of top lots is a Canadian lithographed tin Enarco Motor Oil quart can from circa 1930, having the rare little boy graphics with red hair and red feet variation ($4,720).
Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. has three major sales planned for May and June: a Canadiana & Decorative Arts auction on Saturday, May 14th; a Watches & Jewels auction on Saturday, June 11th; and a Petroliana & Railroadiana auction on Saturday, June 18th. All will be online auctions.
To learn more about Miller & Miller Auctions and their calendar of upcoming events, please visit www.millerandmillerauctions.com.