Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Tim’s Inc Auctions
BRISTOL, CONN. – Tim’s Inc Auctions celebrated its 40th anniversary April 28 with its 27th Annual Cabin Fever auction. The sale began at noon and ended at 2:30 am after 537 lots had crossed the block.
“It was a very successful day, one of the largest grossing sales in years,” said Tim Chapulis, owner and auctioneer.
The online-only sale attracted more than 8,000 checked-in bidders across multiple bidding platforms. “There was a tremendous outpouring of interest throughout the day,” Chapulis said. “It lasted 14½ hours – that’s what I call an extravaganza.”
Although he had not tallied the sales, Chapulis expects the sale to gross more than $200,000.
As expected, the sale’s top lot came in the form of a George Washington inauguration button which sold for $30,000 to a phone bidder.
“It was affixed to a card, but once we were able to get a picture of the back of it, the bidding online shot right up,” Chapulis said. “That convinced the bidders that it was what we said it was. It sold at the top of our estimate, we were thrilled with it.”
The buyers were private collectors who had inquired about it “the minute it hit the air” according to Chapulis. “A lot of people were interested, but it’s going to go to that level buyer who is going to pay for it. It’s a record for us, I can’t recall selling another button for $30,000.”
Other buttons were sold by the lot. A group of 200-plus political buttons brought $625 while another group of decorative buttons brought $593.
Victorian furniture captured five of the top 11 lots. Leading the category was a 9-foot-tall mahogany case grandfather clock attributed to R.J. Horner, which sold for $10,750. Chapulis noted the example’s fine inlay and profuse carving throughout. The works were attributed to the Elliott Clock Company. A console table also attributed to Horner, with a heavily carved mirror frame, crest and claw and ball feet went out at $5,000. An all original 9½-foot-tall Renaissance Revival hall mirror went below estimate at $3,750. At $2,300 was a Victorian marble top credenza with carved columns and panels. The piece was attributed to Pabst or Allen Brothers.
Items from the estate of movie star and model Hellen Mueller of Montclair, N.J., and her husband William H. “Bill” Geyer elicited strong bidding. Bill Geyer played football for the Chicago Bears in the 1940s and was with the team for its 1946 NFL championship year.
Geyer’s collection of taxidermy, which he claimed on big-game hunts in Africa, did exceedingly well over estimate. At the top were two leopard skin rugs at $9,750 and $3,250. A male African lion rug would bring $2,500 and an ocelot rug would sell for $1,125.
“Geyer had a wonderful showing in his home,” Chapulis said. “Exactly like a safari room with drums and spears, mounts and stools. It was very impressive.”
Sports memorabilia collectors showed interest in Geyer’s footballs. Selling for $2,656 was Geyer’s personal 1946 championship game ball with signatures from the Bears team. Behind at $1,275 was the game ball from the July 4, 1945 Army-Navy Manila Bowl. Geyer was in the armed forces during World War II in 1945. Geyer’s 1943 ball from the Chicago Bears, celebrating the team’s 20-0 undefeated regular season, sold for $1,062.
Chapulis’ auctions are as close to an online discovery sale as you can get. When Antiques and The Arts Weekly spoke with the auctioneer a week before his sale, he had about 200 lots for review online. By the time the sale opened, that number had ballooned to more than 500.
“We always add to the catalog throughout the preview. It’s never uploaded all at once. When we’re doing multiple estates, we’re in attics and many different houses, and as we catalog it, that’s how it gets put up online,” Chapulis said.
One of the late additions was a lifetime coin-op collection out of Newtown, Conn.
At the top of the collection was a 1940s Mills nickel slot machine which sold for $1,500. Other notables included an Athletic Scale Strength Tester by Mercury Steel Corp, $1,375; a black and yellow painted slot machine by Mills Novelty Co., $1,250; a 1902 “Little Perfection” penny cigar trade stimulator also by the Mills Novelty Co., $1,125; a circa 1931 “Play Basket Ball” game by the Filmascope Manufacturing Corp., $1,125; and a circa 1938 King Six Dice Jr arcade game by B.A. Withey, $1,125.
Even though his sale rolled late into the morning, Chapulis said he had strong interest all the way through.
“The interesting thing about selling online is it’s a different time zone to someone else, so you’re getting different viewers throughout the day,” he said. “Most of our customers work, and even on Sunday some people go in or are doing their errands or attending church, and at about noon you get them coming back. And that’s what I bank on, the customer doing a little running around early am and we get them noon on. It’s a huge success for us.”
On spending the last four decades in this industry, Chapulis related only gratitude.
“I thank everybody,” he said. “No matter who they are, who shared it or participated or even clicked the button to look at an item. It’s our 40th year and it felt like an outpouring of support and we couldn’t ask for anything more. I sleep it and breathe it and do it every day, so sometimes you can be a little impartial, but everybody went over my head and I was really happy about it.”
All prices include the buyer’s premium. The firm’s next auction is scheduled for June 16. For more information, www.timsauctions.com or 860-459-0964.