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Gabel Kuro, Wurlizter Jukeboxes to Highlight John Gurrech Collection Auction

by WorthPoint Staff (09/22/09).

This extremely rare 1940 Gabel Kuro jukebox, completely restored and one of only a few known to exist, will highlight the upcoming auction of jukebox and advertising collector John Gurrech on Oct. 3.

This extremely rare 1940 Gabel Kuro jukebox, completely restored and one of only a few known to exist, will highlight the upcoming auction of jukebox and advertising collector John Gurrech on Oct. 3.

NORTHPORT, Ala. – The world-famous jukebox and advertising collection of the late John Gurrech of Houston, Tex., including an extremely rare 1940 Gabel Kuro and a 1936 Wurlizter Model 35, considered to be one of the rarest of all Wurlizters, will be going up for auction in early October.

Dozens of rare and vintage jukeboxes, all lovingly restored by Gurrech, will highlight the auction, which will be held on Saturday, Oct. 3, by Hal Hunt Auctions here in Northport.

“John Gurrech was first a record collector who later became a jukebox collector in 1980, when he purchased his first Wurlitzer jukebox,” said Hal Hunt, who will facilitate the sale. “He became well known within the industry for his passion for collecting and patiently restoring each jukebox to its original state. He would travel across the country to shows and flea markets. He’d scour the ads in newspapers and magazines.”

Two of Gurrech’s finds includes the 1940 Gabel Kuro, dubbed “the last jukebox” and one of only a few known; and the 1936 Wurlizter Model 35, quite possibly the rarest of all the Wurlitzers. This Model 35 has not been restored, however. It sat in Gurrech’s museum, with a tag hanging from it, “Not For Sale.” Gurrech died in December of last year before the unit could be restored.

A rare and colorful Wurlitzer 1941 Model 850 Peacock.

A rare and colorful Wurlitzer 1941 Model 850 Peacock.

Other noteworthy Wurlitzers that will cross the block include a gorgeous and colorful 1941 Model 850 Peacock; a 1946 Model 1015, probably the most famous of all the Wurlitzer jukeboxes; and a 1942 Model 950. Other expected top lots include a two-piece 1941 Rock-Ola Spectrovox; a 1961 or ’62 Scopitone, which plays actual music videos; and Wurlitzer Bakelite wall boxes (Models 120 and 125).

One of the more curious items in the collection is the “Strike Up the Band” band-box, a clever plug-in novelty item that sits atop a jukebox. When the jukebox music begins to play, the curtain to the band-box opens, revealing a Lawrence Welk-type band that seems to be playing the music. Then, when the song ends, the musicians stop playing, too, and the curtain is drawn until another tune is selected.

These jukeboxes are all original—no reproductions—and all antique, manufactured from the 1930s to the 1960s.

“Some will sell for $1,500, some for $15,000 and the truly rare, museum-quality machines will go for $50,000 and up,” said Hunt.

Strike Up the Band” band-box device

Strike Up the Band” band-box device.

While the jukeboxes are certain to take center stage (with all major manufacturers represented, to include Seeburg, AMI, Mills, Aireon, Packard and Filben Maestro), the other items in Gurrech’s massive collection should not be overlooked. Offered will be advertising signs, gas pumps and other petroliana, records (mostly 45 and 78 rpm), speakers, neon signs and barber chairs—more than 500 lots in all.

A large selection of Coca-Cola items will be auctioned, including advertising signs and posters, plus a Coke vending machine in great condition; highly collectible examples of pertroliana (to include rare signs for Derby Oils and Rebel Gas, plus a wide assortment of globes and pumps); antique tin signs for known and long forgotten drinks (like Grapette soda, Grand Prize beer and Southern Select beer); and cigarette tin signs.

Tin sign for Rebel Gas

Tin sign for Rebel Gas.

The music memorabilia is extensive, and begins with boxes full of 45 and 78 rpm records, most of them country and early rock ‘n’ roll from the 1950s and ’60s. Those will be sold in multiples, but the vintage Sun discs—like the 45 signed by Johnny Cash, the 78 recording of Carl Perkins’ hit “Blue Suede Shoes” (with sheet music) and the large collection of Hank Williams records will be sold as single lots.

Rare and vintage music posters will appeal to collectors. Included are two promoting live shows for Elvis Presley; two advertising the Beatles (one for their historic 1966 appearance at Shea Stadium, the other for a 1962 show in England—pre-British Invasion—where they shared top billing with Little Richard); a Patsy Cline poster for a March 1963 concert in Kansas City; and Johnny Cash memorabilia.

Also sold will be over 20 neon signs, most of them for beer (like Pearl, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz, Coors, Grand Prize, Falstaff, Lowenbrau, Michelob and Budweiser); hundreds of older “Life” magazines, many from the 1940s (including one featuring Marilyn Monroe on the cover); a 1954 Marilyn Monroe calendar (with her famous nude photo from “Playboy”); and vintage Philco TV sets.

Antique music boxes will include a rare mahogany Edison Victor 6, expected to fetch $4,000 to $6,000, and a 15 ½-inch Regina bowfront changer, rare because it is oak, not the customary mahogany. Game room décor will feature an oak restored Koken barber chair with leather, a massive carved oak back and front bar, and a monumental pair of mahogany winged griffin carved arm chairs with leather.

A preview will be held on Friday, Oct. 2, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be no Internet bidding for this sale, but absentee bids will be accepted.

For more information about this auction, visit the Hal Hunt Auctions Web site, call (205) 333-2517 or e-mail to halhunt@bellsouth.net.

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One Response to “Gabel Kuro, Wurlizter Jukeboxes to Highlight John Gurrech Collection Auction”

  1. jack says:

    Our family and its relations owned 9 restaurants/taverns. Of course we all had Juke Boxes, and upgraded at new ones came out. AS a young child I would go into the restaurant after hours and check the floor for quarters that had been dropped by inebriated customers. I always found a few that had rolled away on them. I had a piggy bank to store my windfall profits. One Sunday morning I discovered a huge cache of coins when I realized that many coins had rolled to the baseboard heat tubes and my small hands could scoop them out. I had so many quarters I could not hold them in both hands cupped. After that I always checked the baseboard heat panels. This windfall profit led me to a lifetime of looking for coins in parking lots, at the end of winter the snow removal plows push coins to the edges of the lots, and come spring thaw you can always find coins. It all got started with the Juke Boxes.

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