Published: January 16, 2017
GETTYSBURG, PENN. — On January 14, PA Onsite Auction Company dispersed the collection of the Hall of Presidents and First Ladies Museum at the 1863 Inn of Gettysburg. The museum closed last November after nearly 60 years of continuous operation and had been viewed by more than one million people since 1957. It contained one of the only complete wax figure collections of US presidents in the entire country.
Bidders got the chance to own a piece of American history as the museum’s contents, including life-sized wax figures of all 44 US presidents and their first ladies — at one-third scale — crossed the block. The figures, dressed in recreated inaugural attire and gowns, were joined by associated pictures, displays, equipment and furniture.
President Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) took top honors as the life-size wax figure (6 feet 4 inches tall) with name plaque sold for $9,350, going to a doctor from Villanova, according to auctioneer Randy Dickensheets. Close behind was Teddy Roosevelt (1901-1909), standing 6 feet 2 inches tall and commanding $8,800. Father of the country George Washington (1789-1797), also 6 feet 2 inches, brought $5,610.
“It was a ‘perfect storm’ sale in terms of timing,” said Dickensheets. “It was almost like being a rock star.” He said there was not only news coverage by Reuters, but representatives from The Late Show With Stephen Colbert were there and “bought some things,” meaning we will probably see them featured in an upcoming skit. A preview piece in The New York Times probably did not hurt either. With a packed gallery and standing room only, several late arrivals chose not to remain, although Dickensheets said there was an overflow room that had been prepared to accommodate those who could get a seat in the ballroom, which held up to 300. “It was a well-behaved crowd,” said the auctioneer.
The life-size president figures were created by several sculpture artists, including Ivo Zini, who has worldwide recognition for his work in cosmetic prosthesis. Zini was the artist who did all of the first ladies except the last three. The early president figures were mostly done by Krenson Way Figure Studio of Mo. & the latest was done by Dorfman Museum Figures Balt. Md.
Prices include the buyer’s premium. For information, 717-451-5999 or www.paonsiteauctionco.com.
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