Dazzling vintage petroliana signs, many of them Canadian, do well in Miller & Miller's March 11 auction

  • NEW HAMBURG, Canada
  • /
  • March 24, 2023

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The top lot of the auction was this round White Rose Gasoline double-sided porcelain sign, six feet in diameter. It blasted through its $10,000-$13,000 estimate to finish at CA$44,250.
Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.

NEW HAMBURG, Ontario, Canada – A pair of Canadian White Rose Gasoline service station signs from the 1940s sold for a combined $63,130, and a red 1951 Ford Custom convertible car sped off for $17,700 in an online-only Petroliana & Advertising auction held on March 11th by Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd., based in New Hamburg. Prices quoted are in Canadian dollars.


“It was a well-rounded sale full of quality, fresh-to-the-market, investment-grade material,” said Ethan Miller of Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. “Buyers jumped on many high-grade and seldom seen signs. With many rare pieces hitting the market after years tucked away in private collections, this was an exciting opportunity for collectors.”


Mr. Miller added, “We continue to see strong results in the petroliana and advertising categories. It’s all on fire. Nearly half of the top fifty lots exceeded their high-end estimates. The upward trend continues. Condition has always been the great divider. Many of the top lots sold to buyers that were investing in condition. Some of the numbers were staggering.”


The top lot of the auction was a round White Rose Gasoline double-sided porcelain sign, six feet in diameter and marked “P&M Orillia” lower edge. It blasted through its $10,000-$13,000 estimate to finish at $44,250. The other White Rose sign – a three-piece single-sided porcelain banner sign – the more difficult-to-find scaled up version of the set, with the round center sign 48 inches in diameter (typically 36 inches) and each of the banners 119 ½ inches long, hit $18,880.


The 1951 Ford Custom convertible, professionally repainted in Carnival Red, retained its original 239 cubic inch flathead V8 engine with two-barrel carburetor and a three-speed manual transmission. The car had just 82,870 original miles and was a mostly original low-mileage survivor with a straight-fitting body. It was built in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and spent years in Edmonton, in a salt-free environment. Remarkably, it fell short of its $20,000-$25,000 estimate.

Canadian 1950s North Star Gasoline double-sided porcelain service station sign, 71 ¼ inches in diameter (CA$12,980).
Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.


Just over 300 lots came up for bid in an auction that grossed $419,225 and featured categories that included automobiles, petroliana (gas station collectibles), breweriana (beer collectibles), soda advertising, bicycles and advertising signs. A total of 433 registered bidders combined for 6,726 bids. Online bidding was via LiveAuctioneers.com and MillerandMillerAuctions.com.


Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices include an 18 percent buyer’s premium.


The two runners-up to the top three finishers posted identical selling prices of $12,980. One was a Canadian 1950s North Star Gasoline double-sided porcelain service station sign, 71 ¼ inches in diameter, that bested its $7,000-$9,000 estimate. The other was a Canadian 1930s Red Indian Gasoline single-sided porcelain service station sign, 60 inches in diameter, marked “The W. F. Vilas Co. Ltd., Cowansville, P.Q.” lower center edge. It was also estimated at $7,000-$9,000.


The Ford brand was well represented in the auction and managed to muscle its way into the list of top lots. A few of the better performers are as follows:


  • A Canadian 1940s single-sided porcelain Ford Monarch dealer sign with bullnose ends, 45 ¼ inches by 74 inches. It would have originally been displayed with a second sign, identical to this one, attached back-to-back, creating a double-sided sign ($10,030).
  • A Canadian Ford “winged pyramid” double-sided porcelain sign from the 1920s, retaining the original hanging loops and short lengths of chain, 12 inches by 30 inches. The sign went way over its $3,500-$5,000 estimate to change hands for $8,850.
  • An American 1940s Ford Dealer single-sided porcelain sign made for neon by the Frohling Sign Co. (Nanuet, N.Y.), measuring 29 ½ inches by 60 ½ inches ($5,605).


Canadian 1930s Red Indian Gasoline single-sided porcelain service station sign, 60 inches in diameter, marked “The W. F. Vilas Co. Limited, Cowansville, P.Q.” (CA$12,980).
Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.

A 1930s French Canadian single-sided porcelain sign for Molson’s Beer, a “hotel sign” with script in French that translates to “Here we serve Molson’s Beer”, rare, with great color and gloss, 23 ¼ inches by 48 ¼ inches, rang up $8,850. Also, an American Coca-Cola double-sided porcelain drug store sign, marked “Tenn Enamel Mfg. Nashville” and “Made in U.S.A. 1933” lower left, impressive at 48 inches by 63 inches, went to a determined bidder for $7,080.


A Canadian 1930s McColl-Frontenac single-sided porcelain grease gun holder sign, marked “The W. F. Vilas Co. Limited, Cowansville, P.Q.” lower edge, 64 inches by 40 ¼ inches, rang up $5,015; while an American Dodge Trucks / DeSoto single-sided porcelain neon sign from the 1940s, originally outfitted with neon and stout at 44 ¼ inches by 72 inches, garnered $5,900.


One of the sleepers of the sale was an Indian 1940s-era Eveready Flashlights, Batteries & Bulbs single-sided porcelain sign in excellent condition, showing a detailed image of a small man in a pillbox hat carrying a flashlight across a line of batteries, 19 ¼ images by 30 inches and boasting exceptional color and gloss. Only expected to bring $1,200-$1,500, it ended up rising to $5,605.


An NOS (new old stock) 1971 Schwinn Sting-Ray three-speed muscle bike, made in America in 1971 with applied decals and rubber components, painted campus green, including factory sales literature, left the room for $7,670. The bicycle came from a closed down Schwinn dealership in the U.S. and was originally found in the factory-sealed box with the original order slip attached.


An American Winchester Repeating Arms Co. 1897 calendar on lithographed paper, with artwork signed by the famed illustration artist A.B. Frost titled A Chance Shot and An Interrupted Dinner, 27 inches by 14 ½ inches, hit the mark for $5,310. Winchester began issuing an advertising calendar each year beginning in 1887 and still does so to this day.


Miller & Miller Auctions Ltd. will hold a Canadiana & Decorative Arts auction on Saturday, March 25th, followed the very next day by a Historic Lamps & Lighting auction. Then, on Saturday, May 13th, the firm will offer the Jean-Marc & Danielle Belzile Collection, live, at 20000 Route Transcanadienne, Baie-d’Urfe, in Quebec, HX9 0B3. The spring season will end with two sales in June: Petroliana & Advertising (June 10th) and Luxury Watches (Date TBD).


Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. is Canada’s trusted seller of high-value collections and is always accepting quality consignments. The firm specializes in watches and jewelry, art, antiques and high-value collectibles. Its mission is to provide collectors with a trusted place to buy and sell.


To consign a single piece, an estate or a collection, you may call them at (519) 573-3710; or, you can e-mail them at info@millerandmillerauctions.com. To learn more about Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. and their calendar of upcoming events, visit www.millerandmillerauctions.com.


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Ethan Miller
Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.

Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.
59 Webster Street
New Hamburg, Canada
(519) 573-3710

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