Advertising & Country Store Collectibles to pace Huge Showtime Auction

This Bellingham Bay Beer reverse glass sign in the original frame, which carries a pre-sale estimate of $30,000 to $45,000, is one of the highlights in a huge, three-day sale to be held the weekend of April 12-14 by Showtime Auction Services.

This hard to find Kelly Tires tin sign in good original condition, measuring 24 inches in diameter, is expected to bring between $15,000 and $25,000 at auction.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – More than 2,400 lots from three major collections of country store, pedal cars, toys and firefighting memorabilia will be offered at auction on the weekend of April 12-14 by Showtime Auction Services, at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds, 5055 Ann Arbor/Saline Road in Ann Arbor. Internet bidding will be facilitated by both LiveAuctioneers and iCollector.

Headlining the event will be the outstanding lifetime collection of Bill and Kathie Gasperino. The couple is well known in antique circles as having one of the finest country store and advertising collections in the United States. Also sold will be Part 2 of the Robert and Harriett Potter firefighting collection and Part 3 of the Ed and Christy Ramsey collection of pedal cars and toys.

“This is shaping up as our best spring auction ever,” said Mike Eckles of Showtime Auction Services, based in Woodhaven, Mich. “Country store and advertising collectors will be astounded by what the Gasperinos have gathered over the years, the Potters have a vast accumulation of firefighting equipment, apparatus and memorabilia spanning 50-plus years, and the Ramsey collection covers 35 years.”

In addition, bidders will be treated to the usual lengthy list of categories that have come to typify a Showtime Auction sale: country store, advertising signs, store tins, soda fountain, Coca-Cola, Western, Native American, farm signs, whiskey, breweriana, match safes, drug store, barber shop, general store, saloon, post office, coin-op, arcade, scales, gambling, cigar and tobacco tins, cash registers, petroliana, showcases, store fixtures, millinery and more.

One of the expected star lots is an 1880s cigar store Indian with forged iron wheels, with attributes suggesting it was carved by Thomas Brooks (est. $50,000-$75,000). The figure is 83 inches tall (including the base), in very good condition and with most of the original paint intact. Also sold will be an excellent 1870s zinc cigar store Indian by William Demuth of New York.

This extremely rare Mills Silver Cup trade stimulator slot machine, one of only four known in existence, may gavel for between $30,000 and $50,000.

This National Cash Register Model #6, commonly known as “the barber shop model” and desired by collectors, could find a new home for $3,000 to $4,500.

Just two of the many rare and desirable automobilia and petroliana items being offered will include a Kelly Tire tin sign in good original condition, 24 inches in diameter (est. $15,000-$25,000), and a Hudson neon outdoor dealer sign in near-mint condition (est. $12,000-$15,000).

Bidders will be impressed by the rare Mills Silver Cup trade stimulator slot machine, one of only four known and in excellent, restored working order (est. $30,000-$50,000); and a full set of War Eagle slot machines with various denominations represented (est. $10,000-$15,000).

West Coast breweriana collectors will doubtless do battle over the Bellingham Bay Beer reverse glass sign, housed in its original frame, 19 ½ inches in diameter (est. $20,000-$30,000); and a rare Buffalo Brewery reverse glass corner sign with factory scene (est. $30,000-$45,000).

Certain to garner attention is a spectacular saloon back bar with four fancy columns with cast-iron embellishments, impressive at 12 ½ feet by 9 ½ feet (est. $25,000-$50,000). The back bar boats high relief applied trim, beveled mirrors, marble top, slag glass cameos and original lights. Also sold will be a bank wall with teller window, post office, hardware wall unit, soda fountain front and back bar, plus many other desirable turn-of-the-century store fixtures.

Vintage cars will roar off with new owners at the wheel. These include a fresh-to-the-market 1948 Pontiac “Woody” 8-cylinder 4-speed station wagon with Hydramatic transmission, mechanically sound and ready for a road trip (est. $30,000-$40,000); and an eye-catching 1947 Fleet Mfg. “cabin car” wood tear-drop travel trailer, 14 feet in length (est. $3,000-$5,000).

This circa 1880s wooden cigar store Indian, 83 inches tall, possibly carved by Thomas Brooks, could garner $50,000 to $75,000.

This Munsingwear tin die-cut store display, complete with three boxes of product, excellent condition, could demand $2,000 to $4,000.

If cash registers are your collectible of choice, this auction features more than 15 rare National Cash Registers, ranging from $1,000-$7,000 in value. One is sure to stand out, though. It’s a National Cash Register Model 6 (commonly known as “the barber shop model”) and it has been fully restored to its original condition, with an extended oak base (est. $3,000-$4,500).

Native American items will include an 1890 Sioux beaded horse saddle blanket in excellent condition (est. $2,500-$4,500). The early saddle blankets are some of the more rare beaded pieces available for collectors. Also being sold will be many other beaded Native American artifacts, to include moccasins, gauntlets, pipe bag, a complete suit and a baby’s cradle.

Many rare store displays and products will come under the gavel, such as a Munsingwear tin die-cut store display in excellent condition, with 9 ½ inch square base and 45 inches tall (est. $2,000-$4,000). It is one of four Munsingwear tin displays to be sold, along with other makers.

A 1948 Pontiac “Woody” station wagon, 8-cylinder, 4-speed, with Hydramatic transmission, ready for the road, will drive off for a price of $30,000 to $40,000.

The first day of the auction—Friday, April 12—will be for the live audience only (no phone or Internet bidding). The hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (EST), with previews on Thursday, April 11, from noon to 5 p.m and Friday from 8-10 a.m. The next two days—Apr. 13-14—will feature live, Internet, absentee and phone bidding. Auction hours are Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (with a preview from 8-9 a.m.) and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (with uncataloged items for live bidding only from 8-10 a.m.

For more information about this auction, call 951.453.2415; or, you can e-mail him at or visit the Showtime Auction Services website.

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