Published: May 4, 2021
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy of Marion Antique Auctions
MARION, MASS. – In-gallery patrons for Marion Antique Auctions’ sale on April 24 were in for a visual treat beyond the more than 500 lots that were up for bid comprising an important collection of toys, advertising, amusement park items, automatons, train memorabilia and country store items, including the entire interior of a 1900 country store. The firm was also unveiling its new auction showroom, nicknamed “Atlantis.” Auction co-collaborator Frank McNamee of the Marion Antique Shop, who runs the sales with his longtime friend David Glynn of Turkey Creek Auctions in Citra, Fla., explained that the name comes from the space’s earlier role as a power plant for Guglielmo Marconi, who invented the first wireless transmission across the Atlantic Ocean. The showroom, which is largely architecturally unchanged on the outside, is at 13 Atlantis Drive.
The sale, which McNamee said was a bit out of the ordinary for his usual fare of Americana and maritime material, grossed, in total, approximately $250,000, with about 4,200 bidders on the combined three online platforms, in-gallery, phone and absentee bids.
The sale’s top lot, a rare 1959 Divco panel milk truck, a diminutive model, was taken by 13 bids to a final price of $18,000. Taking it home was a collector from New Hampshire, according to McNamee. The milk truck led a plethora of pieces from a collector’s estate, offered mostly unreserved with a collection representing what is likely one of the largest and most complete toy, advertising, train, country store, etc., collections in New England. With 23,425 original miles and nicely restored body, the vehicle was in good running condition and came with a bonus – vintage milk bottles and crates. Divco, an acronym for Detroit Industrial Vehicles Company, manufactured and marketed delivery trucks throughout the United States. In operation from 1926 until 1986, it became known for its multi-stop delivery trucks, particularly in use as home delivery vehicles by dairy producers.
In the milk truck’s slipstream was a 1928 Packard Steelcraft pedal car, which brought $8,438. With a faux convertible top, original blue paint, white stripe and black fenders and original decals on the dashboard and seat back, the car’s license plate read “Steelcraft, USA 87-652.” It had a manual horn, light reflectors and tires, and in untouched and unrestored condition measured 28 inches high, 49 inches wide and 23 inches deep.
Automatons were included in the sale. Fetching $7,188 were not one but Seven Dwarfs of Disney Studios fame. Of composition and on wooden stand, they ranged from 30 inches to 34 inches high, with one on a platform reaching 48 inches high. Some of them were more industrious than others, that is, their heads moved slowly, some had moving hands; for example, Sleepy was deemed to be in good condition with working moving head, others were in working condition but needed some repairs and reattachments. Snow White was not among them.
“The big surprise for us was how well the signs did,” said McNamee, “several bringing two or three times estimate.” Estimated just $800-$1,200, a Sun Drop Golden Cola bottle embossed sign brought $5,000. The enamel tin advertising sign, 59 inches high, 16 inches wide, had some minor loss to the enamel near the base at edges, but was otherwise in near mint condition. Sometimes used as a mixer for hard liquor, Sun Drop was developed in Missouri by a beverage salesman named Charles Lazier, a salesman of beverage concentrates, who came up with a recipe for a citrus-flavored soda. Its formula was patented in 1930, and it was marketed in several Southern states under names such as “Sun Drop Golden Cola” or “Golden Girl Cola.”
Other strongly performing signs included an early Twentieth Century neon cafeteria sign, which was bid to $4,375 and went home with the same New Hampshire collector who won the milk truck. A DeLaval Cream Separators tin sign sold for $2,875, a Twentieth Century brass oversized candy scoop form hanging sign brought $2,750, and a Twentieth Century hand carved wooden hand with dove trade sign realized $2,125.
One item in the sale that could not be shipped was an early Twentieth Century B&M Railroad locomotive bell, 21½ inches high by 21½ inches wide. It appeared to be of polished bronze and iron and was mounted on a black iron stand, so it was extremely heavy. But it was in excellent working condition with retouched paint and rang up a $2,750 final price.
Finishing at the same price was a Coca-Cola advertising clock, one of many advertising signs and memorabilia. Proclaiming “Drink Sign of Good Taste,” the metal, paint and plexiglass piece made by the Cleveland Neon Clock Co., may or may not have been in working condition, measuring 30 by 36 by 24¾ inches.
Outperforming its $400/600 estimate, a Nineteenth Century carved and painted arc with animal and human figures sold for $2,250. The ark was complete with six human figures and approximately 150 animal, bird and insect figures. The ark itself in good, original painted condition, was 10½ inches high, 21¾ inches long and 6½ inches wide; animals were ½ inch to 4 inches high.
A total of 28 bids took a massive mid-Twentieth Century guide map of Cape Cod, featuring routes of the Edaville Railroad from its $200/400 expectation to a final price of $2,250. Hand painted on board and framed, 93½ by 50½ inches, it was listed as in overall good condition.
Music and entertainment collectors vied for a circa 1967 Gretsch by Bigsby electric guitar and four props from the television series Boardwalk Empire (Amusement, New Year and Ritz Carlton signs, plus a giant birthday cake). The Gretsch guitar, a “Jim Toler” model with printed pickguard, painted f-holes, semi-hollow wood body, 22 frets and 24-inch scale. Coming with fitted case in as-is condition and its contents, the guitar sold for $1,875. The television props commanded $5,875 altogether.
There were also two Norumbega Park train amusement rides, which together sold for $3,250. A circa 1920s example of Hubley’s cast iron Royal Circus band in the sale, with all of the musicians, horses and driver, along with paint and relief cast decoration on the sleigh coasted to $1,000.
Additional sale highlights included a Marx “Chicken Snatcher” tin lithograph windup toy at $625; a Twentieth Century carousel horse making $563; an early Twentieth Century wedding scene automaton reaching $1,500; and a rare Koken antique child’s barber chair also taking $1,500.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The firm’s next sale is slated for June 26. For information, 508-748-3606, 508-498-7136 or https://marionantiqueauctions.com.
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