A Fry visible “Mae West” gas pump made in America in the 1920s sold for $7,800, and a Kuntz tin lithographed beer tray made in Canada and featuring a St. Bernard dog graphic brought $7,500 in an online-only Advertising, Toys & Historic Objects sale held June 20, 2020, by Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars.
The 699-lot auction was packed with advertising and signs, toys, general store items, petroliana (gas station collectibles), automobilia, breweriana and historical ephemera, much of it Canadian in origin. There was no live gallery bidding due to the pandemic, but over 400 people registered to bid online and collectively placed 6,658 bids. Overall, the auction grossed a robust $294,558.
The Fry gas pump, 9 feet tall, was stamped “Guaranteed Liquid Measure Co., Pittsburgh, Pa.” It was mechanically untested and had undergone heavy repairs, but that didn’t deter eager bidders. The 13-inch diameter antique Kuntz tray, one of Canada’s most coveted beer trays, had gorgeous color and gloss, showing a detailed image of a St. Bernard dog behind a bottle of Kuntz’s lager.
Other top lots included a Coca-Cola school policeman sign, 60 inches tall, the “fishtail” logo version, with two lithographed metal panels standing on a cast metal base ($3,900); and a J.M. Fortier Cigar framed lithograph, housed in a 35-1/2-inch by 27-1/2-inch gilt plaster frame with molded tobacco leaves, marked “Heffron & Phelps, Lithographers” (NY) lower right ($3,000).
“Our online auction platform has proven advantageous during these uncertain times,” said Ethan Miller of Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. “The June auction attracted nearly seven thousand bids from within Canada and around the globe. There is no question that the enthusiasm among the collector community is alive and well - if not stronger than before. The sale was a huge success.”
Mr. Miller said he’s seen growing international interest for typically ‘Canadian’ items, pointing out that the Kuntz beer tray went to an international bidder. “There is a ripe appetite for quality, fresh to the market collectibles. Value is largely dependent on two factors: historical significance and condition level. Many of Saturday’s top sellers were a combination of the two,” he added.
Following are additional highlights from the auction. Internet bidding was facilitated by the popular online bidding platform LiveAuctioneers.com, as well as the Miller & Miller website. Telephone and absentee bids were also accepted.
A Goodyear 8-foot-by-2-foot single-sided porcelain sign, made in Canada in the 1930s and marked “Property of Goodyear Co. General Steel Wares Product” on the lower edge, fetched $3,000. The same winning bid was made for an 1880s Canada Paint Company paper lithograph under glass in the original marked frame, 35-1/2 inches by 25-1/2 inches and free of restoration.
Gas station collectibles (petroliana) proved irresistible to bidders. A few of the top sellers are as follows. All three realized identical selling prices of $3,000. An Arno Model 31A pedestal air meter, made in America in the 1940s and featuring a lighted case, 62 inches tall, manufactured by Romort Mfg. Co. (Oakfield, Wisconsin). A Clearvision visible gas pump, made in Toronto, Canada in the 1930s, 10 feet tall, with the base, nozzle and brass plate all stamped, repainted, good looking but not functioning. A Clearvision visible gas pump, also made in Canada in the 1930s, including hail screen, with base, brass plate and nozzle all stamped, repainted, condition issues, not functioning.
A Butler Dawes Brewery black horse statue, 18 inches tall, plaster cast in the 1930s by the famed Woodstock, Ontario artist Ross Butler (1907-1995), incised with Butler’s name, galloped off for $2,400; and a rare O’Keefe’s ‘Greek Scene’ tin lithographed beer tray (Canadian 1920s), marked “Niagara Lith. Co., Buffalo” lower edge, 13-1/4 inches by 10-1/2 inches, changed hands for $2,160.
A rare, early De Laval Cream Separator single-sided porcelain flange sign, made in the U.S. in the 1920s with text, “World’s Standard, Over 1,500,000 in Use,” 26 inches by 18 inches, made $1,920; while a top lot in the toys category was a Supertest Minnitoy (by Otaco, Ltd., Orilla, Ontario) pressed steel oil tanker from the 1940s, with the original paint and decals ($2,400).
Returning to petroliana, a Canadian Oil Companies White Rose porcelain sign (Canadian 1940s) probably from a bulk distribution plant, 13 inches by 8 inches, free of restoration, finished at $2,040; and White Rose 4-foot diameter two-sided porcelain dealer sign with original ring, one side retaining excellent gloss while the other side exhibits chalkiness, hammered for $1,920.
Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. has three major auctions planned for the fall. A Music Machines, Coin-Op & Advertising auction, featuring the Ken Vinen collection, will be held on Saturday, September 19, at 9 AM ET. Online bidding begins on August 21. The auction will be online and live in the New Hamburg gallery, at 59 Webster Street. The deadline for consignments is August 24.
Just added is a Canadiana & Historic Objects auction, featuring the Brian Stead collection, slated for Saturday, October 24, also at 9 AM ET, online and live in the New Hamburg gallery.
Then, a Watches & Jewellery auction that was originally planned for June 6 but was deferred due to COVID-19, has been rescheduled for Saturday, November 21, at 9 AM, online and live in the gallery. Online bidding will begin on Monday, November 2. The deadline for consignments is October 23.
Miller & Miller Auctions is Canada’s trusted seller of high-value collections and is always accepting quality consignments. The firm specializes in watches and jewelry, art, antiques and high-value collectibles. Its mission is to provide collectors with a trusted place to buy and sell.
To consign a single piece, an estate or a collection, they can be reached at (519) 573-3710 or (519) 716-5606 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Miller & Miller Auctions and the firm’s slate of upcoming auctions, visit www.MillerandMillerAuctions.com.