NEW HAMBURG, Ontario, Canada – A scarce, circa 1929 Johnson Sea-Horse outboard motor store display, made in America, with a tin litho frame and topper and lithographed paper insert, displaying excellent color and gloss, sold for $8,850 at an Advertising & Nostalgia Auction held April 6th by Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd., online and in the firm’s gallery at 59 Webster Street.
Headlining the event was the lifetime collection of Ryan McNabb, a lifelong, dedicated collector out of Sudbury, Ontario. His collection – with fresh-to-the-market additions – featured country store advertising, petroliana, vintage toys and premium nostalgia. The auction was packed with general store signs, gas and oil signs, coin-ops, radios, cars and motorcycles and rare nostalgia.
“Advertising as a category remains strong, and gas-oil reigns king in that category,” said Ethan Miller of Miller & Miller Auctions. Ltd. “Records were set on early En-Ar-Co tins and oil cans, but condition set top performers apart. Choice condition commanded a tremendous premium. High-grade reproductions have, in our opinion, bolstered the market for rare bona fide originals.”
The Johnson Sea-Horse outboard motor store display was the top achiever in a sale where just under 600 lots came up for bid and grossed CA$254,982, including buyer’s premium. About 170 in-person attendees accounted for a standing room-only crowd, while over 600 people bid across three online platforms: LiveAuctioneers.com, Invaluable.com and the Miller & Miller website (338 people bid via millerandmillerauctions.com). Phone and absentee bids were also accepted.
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include an 18 percent buyer’s premium and all prices shown are in Canadian dollars.
A 1967 English-made 650cc Triumph TR6R Trophy Sportmotorcycle with original seat, parts, accessories and literature, and excellent original chrome showing no pitting or corrosion, plus show-quality paint enhanced with pinstripe customization, roared off for $5,605. Also, a 1945 Black Cat Cigarettes porcelain sign, one of Canada’s most attractive porcelain signs, 50 inches by 48 inches, with highly detailed graphics and marked “P&M Orilla 45” lower right, hit $5,310.
A Canadian National Locomotive solid brass number plate, with photos and records indicating the locomotive was built in 1911 and scrapped in 1956, sold for its high estimate of $3,540. The lot included three photos of the locomotive while in service. Also, a 1950s Armstrong Tires two-sided tin litho flange sign, made in America, featuring an image of the Rhino mascot promoting Armstrong’s “Rhino Flex” model tires, measuring 17 ½ inches by 18 inches, finished at $2,950.
A 1930s Canadian White Rose painted wood thermometer, one of a few known and unusual in that it promoted multiple products, 21 inches by 8 ¾ inches and marked “Taylor Permacolor Thermometer, Made in USA”, changed hands for $2,124; and a two-sided porcelain sign for Studebaker cars, made in Canada in the 1940s by General Steel Wares, 24 inches in diameter with no restoration or-touch-ups and retaining its bold color and vibrance, breezed to $2,360.
A Salada Tea porcelain push bar, made in Canada in the 1940s, the scarcer black and yellow version, 31 ½ inches wide by 2 ¾ inches tall, knocked down for $3,245 despite having a few condition issues that eager bidders were happy to overlook. Also, a 1950s-era Drewry’s Dry tin litho sign (“Canada’s Pride”), with a colorful graphic of a Royal Canadian Mountie pouring himself a glass, marked “St. Thomas Metal Signs Ltd.”, 27 ½ inches by 35 inches, hit $2,124.
Two soda signs posted identical selling prices of $1,888. One was a Kist Stratford bottle sign, a rare Canadian released sign, made from heavy embossed tin and die cut. It measured 47 ¾ inches by 13 ¾ inches and had no touch-ups or restoration. The other was a Canadian 1940s Coca-Cola vertical tin litho sign, marked “Made in Canada ST” lower edge. The 53 inch by 17 ¼ inch sign displayed excellent color and gloss with only minor blemishes, and no touch-ups or restoration.
A set of two 1940s British-American gas globe lenses from the rare “Ethyl” series, marked “Made in USA” and 13 ½ inches in diameter, new old stock that were never installed, having no cracks or chips, hammered for $2,360; while a Canadian En-Ar-Co Separator Oil quarter-gallon size tin can from the 1930s, a stand-out example marked “Macdonald Mfg. Co. Ltd. Toronto”, 5 ¼ inches tall with fine color and gloss and retaining its metal spot and cap, commanded $1,770.
The auction was a generous offering of collectible advertising and nostalgia, dating from around 1900 to the 1970s. The petroliana included investment-grade tins and signs from Canada’s most highly collected brands, including Imperial Oil, White Rose, Red Indian and others. Additional consignments included select treasures from a multi-generational post office in Rostock, Ontario.
Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. is currently accepting quality consignments for a Fine Decorative Arts Sale planned for Saturday, June 8th, also online and in the New Hamburg gallery. Featured will be the Curt Davidson Pequegnat Collection. A preview will be held Friday, June 7th at 6 pm.
Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. is a seller of high-value collections between CA$200,000 and CA$3 million. Individual items of merit are always considered. It is Canada’s #1 trusted place for collectors to buy and sell. The firm is always accepting quality merchandise for future sales.
59 Webster Street
New Hamburg, Canada