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Interest in Porcelain Signs Drive Buying at Spring Petroliana & Advertising Auction

by WorthPoint Staff (03/08/12).

This rare Penn-Empire Gasoline double-sided porcelain sign with ethyl logo, rated 7.75, was the top lot at the Spring Petroliana & Advertising Auction held March 2 by Matthews Auctions, LLC, gaveling for $6,875. The auction was held the day before the start of the Chicagoland Petroliana & Advertising Show.

PEOTONE, Ill. – A die-cut cardboard countertop display for Edison Mazda, advertising headlight bulbs with the question, “Auto Lamps? We Have Them!” coasted to $3,410 at the Spring Petroliana & Advertising Auction held March 2 by Matthews Auctions, LLC, the day before the start of the Chicagoland Petroliana & Advertising Show, held twice a year in Peotone.

“What made this piece so special was the fact that it was cardboard and still ended up in the list of top lots,” said Dan Matthews of Matthews Auctions, LLC, based in Nokomis, Ill. “It brought as much as it did because it had a crisp image of a car, and because it was in such great condition—graded 9.0 out of 10 for condition. Only minor edge wear kept it from realizing more.”

Matthews said the auction was one of the strongest he’s ever held. “Nothing was undersold,” he added. “In fact, the sale overall brought $50,000 more than I thought it would. I’ve never been that far off before. Petroliana is alive and well as a collectible. Signs in particular—especially at the high end—continue to do well. They haven’t been affected by the recession.”

Nearly 450 lots changed hands at the auction, which was attended by about 150 people. In addition, around 600 registered bidders participated online, via LiveAuctioneers and Proxibid. Internet bidding accounted for a 30 percent sell-through; phone and absentee bidding together accounted for 5 percent. Two-thirds of all lots sold went to bidders in the room.

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

This Edison Mazda Super Auto Lamps die-cut cardboard countertop display, rated 9, brought $3,410.

• The top lot of the day was a rare Penn-Empire gasoline sign, one of only a handful known, 30 inches in diameter. The double-sided porcelain sign with an ethyl logo, boasting good gloss and color, was rated 7.5 on both sides and went for $6,875. Also, an X-Ray Stove Polish single-sided porcelain sign, 11 inches by 11 inches, with a dancing devils graphic, made $2,420.

• A Sentinel Motor Oil (“You’re Sure It’s Pure”) double-sided porcelain sign, with great gloss and color and a clean center, showing only minor crazing in a small area on the outer field and chips at the mounting holes, earned $6,325; and a Kelly Balloon Tires (“Keep Smiling With Kelly’s”) single-sided porcelain sign, with Lotta Miles waving through a tire, demanded $5,500.

• A Johnson “Time Tells Gasoline” 15-inch single lens in a new metal globe body and with the lens rated an impressive 9.0, went to a determined bidder for $4,675; and a Champlin Gasoline (“Use Champlin Oils”) double-sided porcelain sign with logo, 30 inches in diameter, rated 9.0 on one side and 8.75 on the other (and both sides having great gloss and color) commanded $2,420.

• A scarce pair of small Ford Service Arrow single-sided porcelain die-cut neon signs, both sides rated 7.0, with no neon tubes and some rust staining, went for a respectable $5,500; and a Chevrolet Service double neon single-sided porcelain die-cut sign, 48 inches by 42 inches, with super gloss and color, marked Walker & Company (Detroit), with some minor chips, hit $5,390.

X-Ray Stove Polish single-sided porcelain sign.

Sentinel Motor Oil (“You’re Sure It’s Pure”) sign.

Johnson (“Time Tells Gasoline”) 15-inch single lens golbe.

Kelly Balloon Tires single-sided porcelain sign.

• A pair of Farmoil Co-Operative of Ohio (with logo) 15-inch lenses in a new metal globe body, with both lenses rated 9, fetched $4,675; a Mobil Pegasus single-sided porcelain sign dated 1954, 71 inches by 108 inches and rated 8.5, knocked down at $4,180; and a Fox Head Lager Beer (“Brewed With Waukesha Water”) single-sided porcelain curved sign with logo hit $3,630.

• A 1922 Automobile Blue Book Hotel (“Standard Road Guide of America”) double-sided porcelain shield-shaped sign, 21 inches by 19 inches, with super gloss, breezed to $3,300; a Freedom Oils & Gasoline porcelain flange sign, 24 inches by 18 inches, rated 7.75, rose to $3,850; and a Red Crown Gasoline double-sided porcelain die-cut paddle sign with California crown logo measuring 10 inches by 13 inches and with both sides rated 9.75, went for $2,860.

• A pair of Gulf Marine (“Special For Marine Use”) white 13.5-inch lenses on a screw base glass globe body, with both lenses rated 9.0, hammered for $2,860; a USL Batteries single-sided porcelain self-framed porcelain sign (“Economical, Dependable”), rated 9+, garnered $2,640; and a Life Gasoline Barnett Oil Company single-sided tin sign with logo hammered for $2,530.

• An Atlantic Ale-Beer (“Full of Good Cheer”) single-sided porcelain dome sign with great graphics and good gloss and color, rated 7.9, finished at $2,310; two Ashland Go-Mix Outboard Fuel 13-5 inch lenses in a new Capco globe body, with both lenses rated 9+, changed hands for $2,090; a Sunoco Gas-Oil double-sided porcelain die-cut sign, 28 inches by 42 inches, both sides rated 8.9, realized $1,870; and a Mallory Ignition heavy paper banner, rated 8.9, brought $1,007.

Matthews Auctions, has a full slate of auctions planned through the end of 2012, but two in particular stand out. One is an auction of petroliana, automobilia and more, timed to coincided with the Check The Oil Show in Dublin Ohio (June 23). The other is the lifetime collection of William Dagg (petroliana, country store and farm collectibles), planned for Sept. 16, in Ina, Ill.

Fore more information about any of these auctions, call 877.968.8880, e-mail to or visit the Matthews Auctions website.


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