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Booming interest in pop culture results in sixth million-dollar auction for Hake's Americana & Collectibles
1934 ‘Two-Gun Mickey’ black & white production cel. Sold for $13,800. Hake’s image.

YORK, PA.- Hake’s Americana & Collectibles, the company that brought pop culture auctions to the mainstream 48 years ago, reached another historic milestone on March 19th: its sixth million-dollar-plus sale. Hake’s two-session absentee and online Auction #214, held on March 17 and 19, chalked up a $1,024,337 total, with a strong 81% sell-through rate (by lot). All prices quoted include a 15% buyer’s premium.

“With this auction we also set a record for the number of bidders who participated, which is a testament to the strength of the collectibles industry,” said Alex Winter, president of Hake’s Americana. “The zealous bidding we see in each and every one of our auctions is always a gratifying reminder of the position we’re privileged to occupy within the pop-culture hobby. Not only is Hake’s widely acknowledged as America’s first collectibles auction house, it also serves the largest international clientele by virtue of the hundreds of categories it offers, from Action Figures to Yellow Kid.”

The top lot in the sale was a pair of mechanical, painted-composition store displays depicting Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Made around 1935 by Old King Cole Inc., the pie-eyed pair boasted remarkable condition and came with provenance from the peerless Doug and Pat Wengel collection. Estimated at $10,000-$20,000, the duo attracted 12 bids before settling at $29,222.

Wherever there are mice, cats often follow, and that was the case in Hake’s auction. The hand-drawn and artist-signed original artwork for George Herriman’s November 3, 1935 Krazy Kat Sunday comic strip was an 11-panel beauty that featured the endearing feline with many other popular characters. It sold near the top of its estimate range for $17,014.

Another coveted piece of comic art, a black & white production cel from the 1934 animated short “Two-Gun Mickey,” presented a focused depiction of Mickey in Western attire, on one knee with a gun in each hand. The artwork had remained in the same collection since the 1950s and was completely fresh to the market. Estimated at $5,000-$20,000, it commanded a final price of $13,800.

One of the most enduring of all cowboy characters, The Lone Ranger, appeared on the cover of a prototype “ashcan” pulp magazine printed in August 1936. In this early iteration, The Lone Ranger wears a red bandanna to disguise his face, rather than the later – and more familiar – black eye mask. One of only two such “ashcan” prototypes published to establish copyright, the very rare magazine was even more desirable because it had been graded by CGC, which does not ordinarily grade “pulps.” With an opening bid of $5,000, it finished its bidding run at $8,419.

Every auction has at least one surprising price realized, and this time around, the honors went to a Marx Batman factory prototype bagatelle game with working mechanism and six marbles. Richly graphic with images of The Caped Crusader, Robin and eight different criminals, including The Penguin in a prison uniform, the colorful toy that never reached the production stage was bid to $11,828 – more than four times its high estimate.

Leading the 500-lot political section, a military discharge document signed on June 8, 1783 by General George Washington, with the countersignature of his aide-de-camp John Trumbull Jr., achieved the midpoint of its estimate at $7,558. Following closely behind at $7,400 was a Ulysses Grant/Henry Wilson jugate stickpin with oval ferrotype portraits of the 1872 Republican presidential and vice-presidential running mates.

Additional auction highlights included a 1941 Sensation Comics promotional postcard depicting Wonder Woman and Wildcat, $6,900; and a 1934 Tom Mix pocketwatch with a beautiful, full-color image of Mix on his rearing horse, Tony, $6,569.

Commenting on the million-dollar sale, Hake’s founder Ted Hake said: “Wow! After 48 years, the quality of the items we offer, our bidders’ enthusiastic responses, and the world-record prices we set in so many collecting areas continues to reach higher and higher levels. It’s a wonderful time to be a collector, as so many special items that went into collections in the late 1960s through early 1980s are now coming to auction. There’s a new generation of collectors ready to preserve these great historical and pop-culture artifacts.”

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