Published: June 2, 2020
Review by Greg Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy Nest Egg Auctions
BERLIN, CONN. – Auctioneer Ryan Brechlin of Nest Egg Auctions had originally planned the 169-lot Moodus Barn auction as a gallery-bidding only sale. “We usually simulcast all of our sales,” he told us, “but many of these objects were unwieldy for shipping and we were confident we could fill the gallery with live bidders and sell it all.”
As it goes, the pandemic hit as the March sale was scheduled to run and the sale turned 180 degrees into an online-only evening sale on Memorial Day, May 25.
It went 99 percent sold.
The sale hailed from the collection of a specialty interior painter in Moodus, Conn., and the seller had been picking things out of homes for decades.
“He mostly bought from houses, word of mouth, sort of a pickers dream because everything in the house was fresh and wasn’t from other auctions,” Brechlin said.
“It was fun to walk into his barn,” Brechlin recalled. “The collection was stored in a 20 by 20 room in the loft of the barn. It was a neat thing to open the door and see all this displayed there.”
There was a bit of everything, including trade signs, telegraph registers, Danbury Fair automata, toys, gameboards, classical mirrors, coin-op machines, an articulated medical skeleton model, black Americana and even a taxidermied porcupine, which the collector found on the side of the road and had made.
More than 500 people watched the sale online with more than 5,000 bidders registered to the sale. Brechlin had actually called his internet service provider prior to the sale and increased his bandwidth so that he would not experience any difficulties. None came as the sale went off without a hitch.
The auction was led by a used car neon clock trade sign that sold for $3,198. It was 37 inches tall with original black paint. The green neon illuminated the “Used Cars” and “Buy-Sell-Trade” placards appearing above and below the clock face.
Other trade signs did particularly well, including a cast iron insurance shield-form sign that sold for $1,538. It advertised dependable fire, life, accident, automobile and live stock insurance. Another cast iron shield-form insurance sign, possibly from the same business and advertising real estate insurance and notary public services, sold for $1,230. Bidders liked a painted steel power company sign advertising the “Electric Light Office.” It sold for $1,169. “Fertilizer Of All Kinds” painted wood, 49½ inches long, took $922 over a $200 estimate. A wood frame with insert signs for the Stamford Cattle Market read “Turns Of Sale This Day. Pigs & Fat Cattle” with inserts below for farm/company names. It took $861.
Connecticut memorabilia was represented in a life-size animated figure from the Danbury Fair. The blue-suited figure depicted Matthew Scott, the keeper of the world-renowned and original Jumbo elephant, who lived 1860 to 1885. Scott began working with Jumbo at the London Zoo and traveled with him to the United States when the elephant was sold to PT Barnum. Scott’s figure sold for $1,169.
A number of smoking and card stands featuring African Americans were offered, the top lot, a group of two figures, one a valet with a tray and the other a stereotyped black native wearing a loin cloth and a puffy hat. It sold for $492. A group of three African American card butlers took $209 and two other groups, each with three in them, sold for $135.
The firm’s next sale, an Automobilia auction, is scheduled for June 27. For information, www.nesteggauctions.com or 203-630-1400.
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