An exceptional collection of about 60 life-size wax figures, including a one-of-a-kind figure of Albert Einstein that was signed and inscribed by Einstein himself, will headline an auction planned for Saturday, May 13, 2017, by Pa. OnSite Auction Company, at the Eisenhower Hotel & Conference Center in Gettysburg, PA starting promptly at 9 AM ET.
This is a live-only auction, with no internet bidding, with the exception of around 25 lots that will be available for sale online. Absentee and phone bids will be accepted.
The Einstein wax figure was created in 1947 by Katherine Stubergh, often called “the Madame Tussaud of America.” It was commissioned by Einstein, who was friends with Ms. Stubergh and signed and inscribed the nape of the neck with, “Katherine, Much Thanks, Albert Einstein.” Most of the figures in the collection were made by Ms. Stubergh and encompass many genres.
The collection is owned by Preston Evans, and if that name sounds familiar to auction-goers it’s because he once owned Preston Evans Opportunities, a Georgia-based auction company that only recently closed its doors after Mr. Evans sold off most of his many collections and eased into semi-retirement. The wax figures are a holdover, one that he’s finally willing to see let go.
“I love these wax figures and I hate to part with them,” Evans said, “but it’s time for someone else to enjoy what I’ve enjoyed immensely for these many years. I’ve placed my full faith and trust into Randy Dickensheets, the owner of Pa. Onsite Auction Company, to properly market and sell the figures, as well as the many antiques and other items that are also in the auction.”
Mr. Dickensheets sounded confident the sale will be a success. “This will be the fourth auction I’ve conducted that includes museum-quality wax figures,” he said, “but this one contains by far the highest quality, mostly because of Katherine Stubergh’s talent and reputation. The Einstein figure will be the headliner, of course, but there are many others that are important and life-like.”
These include figures of ten U.S. Presidents and four First Ladies, Civil rights leaders (including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Bunch), cowboys, American Indians (including Geronimo), Rudolf Valentino, outlaws (like Jesse James and Billy the Kid), Dolly Parton, military figures (such as Generals Patton and MacArthur), and scary figures like Wolfman and Barnaby Collins.
Because he operated museums in Warm Springs, GA – the getaway retreat of President Franklin Roosevelt – Preston Evans always wanted a wax figure of FDR, and when he heard that a wax figure museum in Cave City, Kentucky was liquidating its inventory and going out of business, he drove there to attend. He bought not just an FDR figure but enough to start his own museum.
And that’s exactly what he did. He installed his purchases in a vacant home in Warm Springs that had been sitting idle and made it into the Follow the Leader Wax Museum. Acquiring the Einstein figure proved to be his trickiest acquisition. It was for sale on eBay, with bids topping $100,000. But when the winning bidder came up short with the cash, Evans quickly stepped in.
“I knew I didn’t have that kind of money for it, but I did have some things to barter,” he said. And they struck a deal. In exchange for the Einstein figure, Evans gave the seller a 1940s era 4-cylinder motorcycle (worth about $50,000), around 40 vintage trains (including some by Lionel), two Batman arcade games, music boxes and phonographs, “and a small amount of cash,” he said.
Additional items in the auction will include a Chase & Baker Wurlitzer Nickelodeon pulled from an Oklahoma cowboy saloon and in excellent working condition; a presidential partner’s desk; a lovely stained glass window executed and signed by the renowned American stained glass artist Mark Bogenreif; an old barber pole; antique clocks; advertising pieces; Coca-Cola advertising; movie posters; Vogue picture records; antique toys; a Wurlitzer speaker and more.
Also, sold will be music boxes, to include one cylinder plate and two tin disc players; lighting; a large Oriental vase; porcelain Pennsylvania license plates; antique beaded purses; and more, to include baseballs signed by U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and John F. Kennedy.
Even items from the home of Mr. Evans and his wife, Lauretta, in Newnan, Georgia will come for bid. These will include vintage pocketbooks, miscellaneous inkwells, baby carriages and dolls, period furniture, antique lamps, vintage World War II-era long guns and other items. Many of the wax figures are clothed in period costume, which only serves to enhance their desirability.
The auction will be held in the ballroom of the Eisenhower Hotel & Conference Center, located at 2634 Emmitsburg Road in historic Gettysburg, which is about an hour’s drive from Baltimore-Washington International Airport and the Harrisburg (PA) airports. Call the Eisenhower Hotel and inquire about the discounted room rate for auction attendees. For info, call (717) 334-8121.
An auction preview will be held on Friday, May 12, from 12 PM to 7 PM ET. Doors will open on the date of sale at 7:30 AM. For more information about this auction, call Randy Dickensheets of Pa. OnSite Auction Company, at (717) 630-9349 or (717) 451-5999.