Published: March 31, 2020
Review by Greg Smith, Images Courtesy John McInnis Auctions
AMESBURY, MASS. – Three collections came together to form John McInnis’ March 21 sale of coin-op, tobacciana and G-man memorabilia.
According to gallery director Dan Meader, the sale presented its challenges, but it proved workable. “We were scheduled to have the auction prior to the virus coming to the forefront,” he said.
“Leading up to the auction, we changed all of our previews to private appointment. We followed people around, anything previewers touched, we sanitized, and they sanitized before they even came in. We tried to keep it as clean as possible. We had appointments all day long for three days.
“Up to the day prior, per regulation, we were allowed to have 25 people in the gallery, 6 feet apart. But the night before the sale, the regulation changed and it came down to ten people. Usually we’ll have 15-20 people working the sale, but we did it on a skeleton crew of six and we couldn’t let anyone in. But we all had our own stations in the gallery and it went very smoothly.”
The sale was propped up by phone, absentee and internet bidding, the latter between two platforms that supplied about 1,500 registered bidders. Meader points out that the real metric isn’t registered bidders anymore, as some platforms register them automatically, but instead the number of watchers, or those watching the auction from their screens.
“I noticed that our sale audience increased in number as the day went on. We had between 500 and 600 people watching the auction from wherever they were,” he said.
The largest collection found within the auction came from the estate of Bill Rosenbaum, who was an FBI agent from the 1970s-90s in cities across the United States. He ultimately settled in Boston, where he became a client of the auction house.
Meader said, “Because he was in the FBI, he collected G-Men things – he really got into it, a massive quantity, we had thousands of objects. He also collected tobacciana, though he never smoked, he just loved the graphics and the variety. There were thousands of tobacco brands from the 1800s right up to 2003. It was a really big collection, everything from signage to individual pouches, every type of graphic you could imagine.”
Leading Rosenbaum’s collection was a lot of three pieces of Spider brand tobacciana, which sold for $1,080. It came with a double-sided painted tin retail sign that read “Smoke a Spider Union Hand Made 10 cent Cigar,” along with a cigar box and a Spider Cigars paper bag. Behind at $840 was a group of ten G-Men Detective 10-cent novels with a compilation hardcover book from that series that spanned January-November 1948. A G-Man pursuit car with box by Marx sold at $540.
Two other consignors supplied the coin-op and pinball offerings, which seemed to sell well. A Mills 50-cent “Black Cherry” slot machine and base was the top lot of the sale when it sold at $1,320. Behind at $1,200 was another Mills machine, a 5-cent “Hightop Bonus” slot machine and base. At the same price was a Caille Bros 5-cent “Silent Sphinx” slot machine.
A jukebox and two pinball machines followed as a Seeburg 100 select-o-matic jukebox took $1,080, a D. Gottlieb & Company 1971 American West/Law Enforcement graphic machine brought $960 and a “Fun Park” machine by the same company took $900.
“We were pleased with the results,” Meader said. “We hit our low estimate. I’m not going to say its gangbusters, but for what we were going through, it was a great success.”
All prices reported include in-house buyer’s premium. For information, 978-388-0400 or www.mcinnisauctions.com.
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