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An important Black Cat Shoe Dressing clock (known to collectors as “The Black Cat Clock”) sold for $11,210, and an early 20th century Peabody’s Overalls single-sided porcelain sign realized $8,850 in Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.’s online-only Advertising & Breweriana sale held June 19th. All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars.
“Antique and vintage advertising continues to flex its muscles,” said Ben Lennox of Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. “A whopping 68 percent of the top 50 grossing lots from the 650-lot sale smashed past the high estimate. The desire for high-end advertising continues to climb at a feverish pace with both new and seasoned collectors looking to add rarities to their collections.”
The iconic Nonsuch Black Cat Shoe Polish clock settled in as the top lot, just as one did almost 40 years ago, in 1982, at the famed Bill & Pauline Hogan Collection auction – a sale that really solidified country store antiques and collectibles in Canada. While the clock hammered down $5,400 back then, in the recent sale it more than doubled that, when adding the buyer’s premium.
Well represented throughout the sale were signs and advertising pieces covering tobacciana, breweriana, gas station memorabilia (petroliana), soda pop collectibles and work wear. “In speaking with collectors post-auction,” Lennox said, “the consensus is that the rare and unusual will always attract eager buyers, and this has led to many signs hitting new price benchmarks.”
He added, “There is really no sign of a letup. Country store, service station, general store – whatever term you choose to put around it – the trajectory for advertising antiques continues on an upward trend with no signs of slowing down.” The auction grossed a healthy $389,164 and was headlined by the Peter Rea breweriana collection, a superb assemblage of top-quality pieces.
Following are additional highlights from the auction, which attracted 467 registered bidders, who participated through LiveAuctioneers.com and the Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. website: www.millerandmillerauctions.com. Just under half of lots sold met or exceeded estimates, and 20 percent of lots blew past the high estimate. All prices include an 18 percent buyer’s premium.
The Black Cat Shoe Dressing clock is considered one of the most significant pieces of Canadian advertising ever produced. It depicted a black cat, its jaws and whiskers erect, engaging with the product in pursuit of something beyond. It boasted, “Leads all others / Challenge the world to produce its superior” and was clearly marked lower left, “MacDonald Mfg. Co. Ltd., Toronto”.
The Peabody's Overalls single-sided porcelain sign, 15 ¼ inches by 48 inches, is one of Canada's great general store porcelain signs, achieving everything a good sign should. The "Peabody's Overalls" script spanned the sign, but the humor and salesmanship filled in the blanks: "Wears like a pig's nose", "Guaranteed Honorable" and "Railroad King".
Four lots finished with identical selling prices of $5,015. They were as follows:
- A Teddy Chocolate Soda single-sided embossed lithographed tin sign (Canadian, 1920s), 13 ½ inches by 20 inches, marked “St. Thomas Metal Signs, St. Thomas, Ontario”.
- A Ward’s Lime Crush porcelain syrup dispenser (American, 1920s), the rarest of the three Ward’s figural syrup dispensers, with a ball style pump, 14 inches tall by 9 inches.
- A Forest & Stream Tobacco lithographed heavy cardboard die-cut sign (Canadian, 1930s), 39 inches by 41 inches, with remnants of an easel on the rear, for counter display.
- A Firestone Tires double-sided porcelain wall mounting porcelain flange sign (1940s), marked “Made in USA”, 36 inches by 28 ¼ inches, with no restoration or color touch-up.
A circa 1938 Orange Crush porcelain sign, although not marked, was certainly a product of St. Thomas Metal Signs, Ltd. (Canada). The store side sign was made from self-framed heavy-gauge pressed steel with heavy-shelved porcelain and went for $4,720. Also, a Stubby Soda vertical tin lithographed sign (Canadian, 1940s), changed hands for $4,425. The single-sided embossed sign, measuring 47 ½ inches by 17 ¼ inches, was marked “CCC WS166” to lower right and left edge.
The Kuntz Brewery beer tray is among Canada’s most sought-after beer trays. It’s called “The Bologna Girl” because the subject, a young woman, is shown serving a bologna sandwich alongside a bottle of Kuntz Export Lager. The tray in the auction, 13 ¾ inches in diameter, was marked, “Kaufmann & Strauss Co. N.Y.” It finished under estimate, gaveling for $3,540.
A Brading Brewery Company early Canadian paper-under-glass lithograph from the 1910s, featuring the Brading’s “Stag” trademark icon flanked by the product, 23 ½ inches by 33 inches (sight), knocked down for $4,720. Also, a Kuntz Park Brewery lithographed paper, extremely rare, featuring a vignette of the Waterloo (Canada) brewery, followed by photos depicting the various equipment involved at each stage of the brewing process, framed, commanded $4,130.
A Regal Brewery (Hamilton, Ontario, 1920s) lithographed tin beaver tray, among Canada’s most sought after beer trays, featuring an outdoor scene with two beavers constructing a dam by a riverside, 13 ½ inches in diameter, brought $4,425. Also, a Pay Roll Tobacco single-sided tin lithographed sign (Canadian, 1920s), measuring 16 ¾ inches by 11 inches and marked bottom right, “The Thos. Davidson Mfg. Co. Ltd. Montreal”, went to s determined bidder for $3,540.
A Teddy Chocolate Soda single-sided lithographed tin sign (Canadian, 1930s), a product of Renfrew Bottling Works, 13 ½ inches by 20 inches and marked bottom center, “St. Thomas Metal Signs Ltd., St. Thomas, Ont.”, went for $4,130; while a Stubby Root Beer single-sided embossed lithographed tin sign (Canadian, 1940s), 19 ¼ inches by 27 ¼ inches, hit $3,540.
Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. has three major auctions planned for autumn, all of them falling on a Saturday. A Toys & Nostalgia auction featuring the Bryan Beatty collection will be held on September 11th; a Canadiana sale is scheduled for October 9th; and a Watches & Jewels auction will take place on November 20th. All will be online-only.
To learn more about Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. and the auctions planned for fall, please visit www.MillerandMillerAuctions.com.