NEW HAMBURG, Ontario, Canada – A bright red 1963 Chevrolet Corvette coupe with the rare and highly desirable split rear window roared off for $129,800 in an online-only Automobiles, Advertising & Toys auction held December 3rd by Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. The runner-up lot was a 1940s double-sided porcelain Chrysler Plymouth Fargo dealer sign that made $29,500.
Prices quoted are in Canadian dollars and include an 18 percent buyer’s premium.
All 241 lots in the sale were from the lifetime collection of the late Gary Archer, a collector who aggressively sought out gas pumps, petroliana advertising, automobilia, soda signs and old toys. “The family reflected on what Gary paid for certain pieces. It was like winning the lottery,” said Ethan Miller of Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. “Overall the auction was seen as a great success.”
Mr. Miller said that as the market for petroliana (gas station collectibles) matures, buyers are becoming increasingly more sophisticated. “The results in this auction showed that rarity and condition are trending as the most important predictors of price,” Miller observed. “While the top 20 percent crushed our highest expectations, the more common material was flatlined at best.”
Auto buffs are familiar with the ’63 ‘split-window’ as one of the most rare and coveted Corvettes out there. Mr. Archer imported his from the U.S. in 1983 and stored it away as an investment in a dry, heated garage. Prior to that, the car received a cosmetic restoration that included a color change to red and many interior upgrades. The car more than doubled its $60,000 high estimate.
The Chrysler Plymouth Fargo dealer sign was produced for the Canadian market and measured 44 ½ inches by 41 ½ inches. The sign blasted through its pre-sale estimate of $4,000-$6,000. Following are additional highlights from the auction, which grossed $478,018 and attracted 382 registered users, who placed a combined 6,478 bids. One hundred percent of the lots were sold. Internet bidding was facilitated by both LiveAuctioneers.com and the Miller & Miller website.
Two signs posted identical selling prices of $12,390. One was a Chevrolet “Super Service” dealer neon sign, made in America in the 1940s. The single-sided porcelain sign measured an impressive 42 inches by 49 inches. The other was a Red Indian (“Gasoline / Motor Oils”) 5-foot single-sided porcelain sign (Canadian, 1930s), marked “The W. F. Vilas Co. Limited, Cowansville, P.Q.” Both signs finished at way above their estimates.
A Supertest (“Canada’s All-Canadian Company”) 1940s double-sided porcelain service station sign, round, 5 feet in diameter and in the original ring, marked “P & M Orillia”, sold within estimate for $10,030. Also, a larger Supertest double-sided porcelain sign, also round, 6 feet in diameter and made in the 1950s, in the original aluminum ring with hangers, with only minor porcelain loss, brought $5,900, which was also within estimate.
A Canadian 1950s Gulf Service Station double-sided porcelain sign in the original aluminum ring, 68 inches by 74 inches, fetched $7,670; a Canadian 1920s Gray-Dort Automobile dealer sign, single-sided tin and embossed, 11 ¾ inches by 35 ½ inches, also brought $7,670; and a Canadian 1960s GMC Trucks double-sided vacuum formed plastic illuminated sign, very rare, tagged “TEK Plastics Ltd., Rexdale, Ontario”, made $7,080.
A round White Rose double-sided porcelain service station sign with very good color and gloss (Canadian, 1940s), in a steel frame, 48 inches in diameter, settled at $6,490, which bested the $3,500 high estimate. Also, a rare 1940s Indian Motorcycle prismatic sign, made in the U.S. (“Genuine Indian Accessories / The Complete Quality Line”), celluloid over embossed tin backed with cardboard, 11 ¾ inches by 6 ¾ inches, reached $5,900.
A Canadian 1950s Fina Service Station double-sided porcelain sign, impressive at 72 ½ inches by 68 ½ inches, marked “P&M Orillia” on the lower edge, both sides exhibiting scattered chips, changed hands for $6,490. One of the sleepers of the auction was an American 1950s Bee Line Wheel Alignment single-sided tin sign, embossed, marked “Stout Sign Co., St. Louis, Mo.” The sign sold for $5,310 against a $400-$600 estimate.
Two very different lots realized identical selling prices of $5,015: the Canadian 1940s boxed pressed steel Minnitoy Pepsi truck (“Enjoy “Pepsi-Cola”), the box marked “Made by Otaco Limited, Orillia, Ont.”, new old stock in the original box; and the Canadian 1957 double-sided porcelain Texaco Service Station sign in the original metal ring, 5 feet in diameter, retaining the original mounting chain attached from the sign’s lower bracket.
Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd., has two major auctions planned for the first quarter of next year. They include an Advertising & Historic Objects auction on Saturday, January 21st; 2023; and a Canadiana & Folk Art auction on Saturday, February 11th. Both auctions will be online-only.
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 email@example.com. To learn more about Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. and the firm’s upcoming sales, please visit www.millerandmillerauctions.com.
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Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.
59 Webster Street
New Hamburg, Canada