Just Because It's Old Doesn't Mean It Is Worthless....

Neon Automobilia is “Smokin” 
This year we witnessed two auctions – one a Barrett-Jackson and the other a Mecum – where a tremendous focus was paid to automobilia collectibles. 

The Hemi Hideout - Brookshire, Texas 
Last Fall Garagistry visited the "Hemi Hideout", the "Ponder Collection" and the "Martin Automobile Museum" with their excellent collections of automobilia on display. Before that, Garagistry visited Tim Wellborn’s "Muscle Car Museum" and noticed his wonderful collection of signage, dealer showroom display materials and related automobile memorabilia which well-defined a magical time in American automotive history.

So, What’s Going On?

The March 27-28, 2015 Mecum Auction held in West Memphis, Arkansas witnessed the automobilia collection of Vernon Walker – of Walker Radiator fame – go to auction.  A total of 421 pieces were sold yielding a total of $4.65 million in sales.

This past January, we witnessed an incredible collection of 2,000 pieces of automobile memorabilia go to auction, with many of the pieces coming from the famed Ron Pratt Collection. The results of that auction: a reported $6.65 million in sales. 

Whether it was signage, glass gas pump globes, used oil cans or toys, the market's collectors appear very eager to own a piece of yesterday.

Special Moments

The top seller at Mecum's Walker Auction was the Weakley Lawn Equip. Co. sign. The top seller from the Barrett-Jackson January Pratt auction was a 1930’s Harley-Davidson neon porcelain dealership sign.

The Barrett-Jackson January Top Ten

1930's Harley-Davidson neon porcelain dealership sign (above) – $86,250  
A Harley-Davidson Bar and Shield logo double-sided dealership sign. This sign is considered to be the nicest survivor known of the iconic logo sign. 

1950's Humble Esso Aviation airport sign – $80,500
Humble Esso Aviation Products restored single-sided porcelain airport hangar sign with animated neon. Wings alternate being lit to simulate flight.

1950's Chevy Boy dealership sign – $69,000
Chevrolet's "Chevy Boy" single-sided neon porcelain dealership neon. One of only two ever created. This one is near mint and features articulated neon around the wheels.

1940's Beacon Gas sign – $47,150
Beacon Security Gasoline single-sided porcelain service station sign with "light house" graphic. One of the most sought after of Petrolinia signs.

1953 Ford Jubilee dealership sign – $46,000
Rare Ford Jubilee restored single-sided neon porcelain dealership sign. One of the most desirable of period neon signs.

1950's Dogs-N-Suds sign – $44,850   
Dog-N-Suds single-sided neon porcelain drive-in sign with animated bulb lit arrow.

1953 Mobil Pegasus Kiddie Ride – $40,250
All original Mobil Oil "Pegasus" coin-operated kiddie ride. Probably one of the rarest of Mobil pieces. Built and authorized by Mobil Oil for usage and display at the 1953 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. When the fair was cancelled Mobil executives awarded the rides to their top performing distributors to be used for promotional purposes.

1923 Wayne Roman Column Gas Pump – $40,250 Extremely rare Wayne 490 "Roman Column" ten gallon visible gas pump with original Buffalo Gasoline milk bodied globe on top. Considered the "Holy Grail" of gas pumps with beautiful styling and lots of brass.  

1930's Sinclair Aircraft porcelain sign – $40,250
Rare Sinclair Aircraft Gasoline double-sided porcelain service station sign with Spirit of St. Louis style airplane depicted.    

The Mecum Walker March Top Ten Results

1948 Weakley Lawn equipment Company sign (above) - $125,000 
The animated sign has been preserved in original working condition

1920’s era Goodyear Tire sign - $100,000    
It pre-dates the use of neon and features vintage milk-glass lettering. Signs of this type were extremely fragile, but this one has survived in outstanding condition.

1911 Mobile Oil Pegasus sign - $72,500 
This original rotating porcelain Pegasus is still in working condition
W.F. Chase Chevrolet dealership sign - $65,000   
Still in working condition

Dodge Brothers Motor Vehicle sign - $65,000     
The 7-foot-long sign was made by the American Sign Corporation of Kalamazoo.

An 8-foot-tall Ford Jubilee neon porcelain dealership sign - $65,000   
One of two sold with both sales in the Top 10. 

An art deco Lincoln Mercury sign - $60,500  Nearly 11 feet in length

A 6-foot-tall sign of the Siesta Motel - $55,000
Who knows the fate of the motel, but the sign remains and sold.

A "Leader Newspapers" sign - $52,500 

The second Ford Jubilee neon porcelain dealership sign - $47,500  
Both sold in working condition

Notice Something?  

Three identical (or possibly identical ) Ford Jubilee Signs have been on the block in the past four months...

Sign 1 at Barrett-Jackson @ $46,000
Sign 2 at Mecum @ $65,000
Sign 3 at Mecum @ $47,500

With increasing prices... 

We don't know if either of the recent two signs could be one and the same from the January auction. Regardless, it shows a high degree of interest and value in what have been described as rare signs.


Next time you are at a swap meet or yard sale or an out-of-business auction, keep your eye out for the old sign leaning up against a wall someplace. It could be worth some serious coin for you!

And, if you are a fan of the TV program, "American Pickers", watch how Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz pay specific attention to automobilia - and in particular automobila signage. Kinda make us wonder when we'll see their signs at the next car auction...

Happy hunting and safe driving, always....

The Garagistry Team