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Empire Gasoline Double-Sided Porcelain Sign leads Petrolina & Automobilia Sale

by WorthPoint Staff (08/09/12).

The top lot of an auction held by auction held Aug. 3 by Matthews Auctions—the day after the end of the popular Iowa Gas Show—was this Empire Gasoline double-sided porcelain sign, which gaveled for $10,450.

DES MOINES, Iowa – An Empire Gasoline double-sided porcelain sign with great color and gloss, 30 inches in diameter, sold for $10,450 at an auction held Aug. 3 by Matthews Auctions on the day after the end of the popular Iowa Gas Show.

The Empire sign, featuring a sunburst logo, was in overall excellent condition, rated 9 out of 10 for condition on the front and 8.5 on the back. Some heavy wear on the reverse side on the bottom didn’t deter bidders, who were drawn to the sign’s rarity and great looks. It was the top achiever in a sale that saw around 475 lots, mostly petroliana and automobilia, come up for bid.

“It was a very strong sale, loaded with quality merchandise,” said Dan Matthews of Matthews Auctions, LLC. “And I couldn’t have asked for better bidding, both in person and online.” Internet bidding was hosted by Proxibid. Phone and absentee bidding was described by Matthews as “healthy” on both counts. He estimated the crowd at approximately 150-160 people.

Following are additional highlights from the auction (all prices quoted include a 10-percent buyer’s premium):

This Texaco Marine Lubricants single-sided porcelain sign, the rare black-T version, realized $9,900.

• A rare Texaco Marine Lubricants single-sided porcelain sign with ships graphics, scarce because of the black “T” and rated highly at 9, soared to $9,900. The 15-inch by 30-inch sign, dated 1934, boasted great color and gloss. Also, an extremely rare, original Ford Service canopy-mounted globe with Ford’s “The Universal Car” logo, rated 9, 16 inches in diameter, hit $8,250.

One of the two Sunray Gasoline lenses, in an original orange ripple globe body with lenses rated 9, that sold in the auction. This one found a new home for $6,875.

• A pair of Sunray Gasoline lenses in an original orange ripple globe body, with the lenses in nice shape and rated 9, breezed to $6,875. The globe was also good looking, but the body had a crack in the base. Also, a Guide Lighthouse Service Station tin three-dimensional display with light (“Be Safe!”), 49 inches tall and 25 inches in diameter, in excellent condition, made $6,050.

• A Santa Fe Trail single-sided oval sign, 16 by 24 inches, with gorgeous gloss and color and showing a horse team pulling a Conestoga wagon, rated 9.5, rose to $4,675. The sign, signed Irving Shope and dated 1948, had a clean field, with just a few minor chips. Also, an AC Spark Plugs tin thermometer, new in the box, with “Sparky the Donkey” graphics, commanded $3,960.

This Santa Fe Trail single-sided porcelain oval sign from 1948 with great gloss, hammered for $4,675.

• A Guide Light “Check Your Lights” tin flange sign with great lighthouse graphics, rated 9+ on both sides, 13-inches by 18-inches, garnered $6,050. The sign, dated 1940, was extremely clean, with excellent color and shine. Also, a Red Crown Gasoline double-sided porcelain sign with crown logo and great color and gloss, rated 9 and 8.5, 30 inches in diameter, made $7,150.

• A Sunray D-X Petroleum Products porcelain pump plate with excellent gloss and color, rated near-mint at 9+ and measuring 9 inches by 9 inches, earned $3,080. The only flaw was a tiny chip on the left-hand mounting hole. Also, a Coca-Cola porcelain button sign with bottle graphics, 36 inches in diameter, rated 9+, with outstanding color and gloss, topped out at $1,650.

An extremely rare Original Ford Service canopy-mounted globe, 16 inches in diameter, sold for $8,250.

• A Tomahawk Hi-Speed Motor Oil one-quart round metal can, with tomahawk graphics, rated 9 and 8.25, made by the Mohawk Refining Company (Newark, N.J.), with great color and gloss and the display side in excellent condition, went for $1,100; and a Reilly Oil Company porcelain pump plate for regular gas, 18 inches by 12 inches, rated 6.75 but very rare, hit $330.

Matthews Auctions’ next big sale will be the single-owner lifetime collection of William “Bill” Dagg, a man who accumulated thousands of items, mostly petroliana, country store, farm and advertising memorabilia. His collection will be auctioned the weekend of Sept. 14-16, at the gallery of the Southern Illinois Auction Company in Ina, Ill., a town located in southern Illinois.

This AC Spark Plugs tin thermometer, new in the box, with “Sparky the Donkey” graphics, earned $3,960.

This Guide Lighthouse Service Station 3-D island display, with light, in excellent shape, brought $6,050.

Matthews said by the time the final gavel comes down on Sunday, Sept. 16, as many as 5,000 items will have changed hands. For people unable to attend the event in person, Internet bidding, phone and absentee bids will also be accepted. Ina, Ill., is located about 50 miles southeast of St. Louis, Mo., not far from Interstates 57 and 64.

Matthews has written a book about petroliana, titled “The Fine Art of Collecting Petroliana.” For information on how to order a copy or about these auctions, call 877.968.8880, e-mail to or visit the Matthews Auctions website.


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