A storybook cat with a talent for prognostication leaped to the top of prices realized at Morphys
June 1st auction of antique advertising and coin-op machines. Made by Roover Brothers sometime between 1897 and 1904, Puss in Boots the Fortune-Teller was encased in a glass, wood and metal penny arcade machine and offered complete with 100 fortune cards. The psychic feline garnered a winning bid of $21,000 and led the days lineup of 537 lots, which grossed $610,000. All prices quoted are inclusive of 20% buyers premium.
Although one of Morphys smaller events, the specialty auction drew a packed house, said company CEO Dan Morphy. Advertising signs attracted the lions share of bidding, he added.
There was strong interest in a scarce circa-1910 to 1920 Phoenix Pure Paint curved porcelain corner sign with the image of a Native-American boy holding a hand mirror and applying paint to his face. The colorful sign exceeded its presale estimate and closed at $15,600.
An 8-piece Coca-Cola prototype window display depicting Rip Van Winkle and the Jolly Elves pausing for refreshment was bid to $7,800 against an estimate of $3,000-$4,000. In the breweriana section, a 1900-1910 framed poster advertising Lorelei Beer of Helena, Montana, with an image of the fetching mermaid-like maiden of nautical lore, achieved an above-estimate $3,900.
Other signs that finished well in the money included an appealing Eveready Flashlights/Batteries/Mazda Lamps figural flange sign, which doubled its high estimate in realizing $6,000; and a self-framed tin sign advertising Frazer Axle Grease, with a wonderfully detailed image of two horse-drawn wagon drivers discussing a wheel mishap, $4,800. Another standout was a Boston Locomotive Works 4-color chromolithographed builders print, dated 1858, with the image of a steam-powered passenger engine. It sold for $4,200.
More than 150 gambling, vending and other coin-operated machines were offered. A Paces Kitty slot machine in vibrant primary colors on metal reached $7,200; while a beautiful Wurlitzer Model 71 countertop jukebox made the midpoint of its estimate range at $5,400. Manufactured around 1940-1941, the Model 71 in Morphys sale played selections correctly and, according to Dan Morphy, had a great sound.
Morphys next auction featuring antique advertising will be held on August 6th. A General Antiques auction is slated for August 20th, and a major Toys & Sports Memorabilia sale will follow on September 7th.