Led by an enviable array of rare advertising signs, gas pumps, globes and early service station and motoring accessories, Morphy Auctions
July 19-20 Automobilia & Petroliana auction attracted bidders from coast to coast and cruised to a grand total of $2.3 million, inclusive of buyers premium. The 1,000-lot sale featured superior-quality consignments from a number of advanced collections, offering bidders a chance to buy elusive pieces at condition levels that would be nearly impossible to improve upon.
To no ones surprise, a clean, fresh-to-the-market Sinclair Aircraft double-sided porcelain service station sign with an early airplane graphic landed in the auctions #1 slot. Measuring 48 inches in diameter and graded a strong 9.0 and 8.0 on each of its sides, the coveted sign was pursued by not only petroliana collectors but also aviation enthusiasts. Propelled by multiple bidders, it rose to a lofty altitude, settling comfortably within its estimate range at $62,400.
Collectors will pay a premium to acquire gasoline signs that are known to be rare, but even more so if they include attractive images of vehicles. A circa-1940s Paragon Gasolene double-sided porcelain sign with a tanker trunk graphic, its sides graded 8.0 and 7.9, respectively, sold for $27,600 against an estimate of $8,000-$16,000. A very scarce Sunset Gasoline & Rainbow Motor Oil double-sided porcelain service station sign depicting a brilliant sunset flanked by images of a speeding car and airplane sold near the top of its estimate range for $24,000.
Neon car dealership signs, especially those in nice original condition, are always in demand as well. The July auction featured an outstanding dual-brand Cadillac and Oldsmobile die-cut porcelain neon sign with its correct bullnose attachment. A major statement piece measuring 82 by 108 inches and graded 8.75+ condition, it sold above high estimate for $25,200.
A gleaming lineup of more than 160 gas pump globes crossed the auction block, with many tempting rarities in the mix. A complete 15-inch-diameter Jumbo Gas Power To Pass gas pump globe was made in the 1930s and retained its original high-profile metal body. One of few known examples, its main attraction was its outstanding central graphic of a lumbering elephant. Graded 8.5 out of 10 and estimated at $7,000-$14,000, the globe had many bidders chasing it until its run concluded at $20,910.
Another great example of early 20th-century art was the rare one-piece S-M (Southern Minnesota) Oil Co., Red Hat Gasoline gas pump globe with a jaunty top-hat graphic on each side. Made in the 1920s and one of only a handful of extant examples, it boasted a condition grade of 8.0 and sold for $20,000 against an $8,000-$14,000 estimate.
A Jenney (Boston, Mass.) Aero Solvenized Gasoline globe lens in gorgeous orange and periwinkle blue colors enhancing an airplane graphic was another top performer, selling for $21,600 against an estimate of $7,000-$14,000. Right alongside it, a rare and exceptional circa-1930s SIPO (Silent Power Gasoline, San Antonio, Texas) 13.5-inch single-globe lens presented in very fine 9.0 condition. It sold within its estimate range for $20,910.
What would an automobilia or petroliana collection be without an antique gas pump? A circa-1920s Wayne Roman column 10-gallon visible gas pump in 8.0 condition sold above high estimate for $28,800; while a Wayne Model #50 showcase gas pump restored in royal blue and white Pure Gasoline livery earned $26,400 against an estimate of $10,000-$15,000.
Soda pop advertising was an added attraction of the two-day sale. The offerings were led by an exceedingly rare 14-inch Pepsi-Cola reverse-painted, illuminating glass bullet sign with a bottle graphic. Produced in the 1940s and retaining its original wood base and metal can, the condition 9.25 sign surpassed its high estimate to command an effervescent $21,420.