A standard glaze portrait vase showing a beautifully rendered cocker spaniel sold for $2,640 on the last day of a three-day auction held February 15-17, 2013 by Matthews Auctions, LLC, based in Nokomis, Illinois. The 13-inch vase, signed “M. Timberlake,” was in good condition, with no chips, cracks or repairs. It was the top achiever of the 1,200 lots up for bid.
The sale was conducted at the gallery of Pope Auction Center in Raymond, Illinois, with whom Matthews Auctions often partners. Headlining the event was an exceptional group of antique toys and signs from the Joe Russell estate out of New York City. The toys in particular were of high quality and in excellent condition. A smaller New York toy collection was also offered.
The Feb. 15-16 sessions also featured many fine advertising and petroliana (gas station) signs – categories for which Matthews Auctions has become renowned in the industry over the years. But on Feb. 17, decorative arts took center stage. These consisted mainly of art pottery, early American pattern glass, Pickard china and other items. The portrait vase was in this group.
“Day three was a bit of a departure for us, and it may have taken some folks by surprise that we were offering decorative arts at all,” said Dan Matthews of Matthews Auctions. “But the items were very well received, and I want this to be a signal that we’re more than just gas station collectibles and advertising signs. That’s still our bread and butter but now we’re branching out.”
Around 70 people attended the auction live, while another 450 registered to bid online, through Proxibid.com. Many absentee bids were fielded, to go with a handful of phone bids. “It was a good sale, with robust bidding throughout,” Mr. Matthews said. “The crowd was mainly toy buyers, who were happy to be bidding on the mostly medium-to-upper quality merchandise.”
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 10 percent buyer’s premium.
Another portrait vase also did well in the Feb. 17 decorative arts session. That one was a Roseville Rozane vase, 14 ½ inches in height, showing a man wearing a hat and artist signed “A. Williams.” Like its cocker spaniel counterpart, this example was in great shape, with no chips, cracks or repairs. It was marked “Rozane RPCo” on the bottom and changed hands for $1,265.
Two pump plate signs took place and show honors for the auction. The first was a Husky Tri-Power porcelain pump plate sign with dog graphics, 12 inches by 12 inches, rated 8.9 out of 10 for condition, with strong gloss ($2,310). The other was a Pacer 400 porcelain pump plate sign with ethyl logo, 14 inches by 9 inches, with great color and gloss, rated a robust 9 ($1,815).
Two other lots managed to top the $1,000 mark. One was a Zerolene (“The Standard Oil for Motor Cars”) single-sided porcelain sign, 6 inches in diameter, with fabulous color and gloss, rated 8.9 and showing only minor wear in the mounting holes ($1,045). The other was an Iroquois Chief single-sided porcelain convex sign with Indian Chief graphics, rated 9+ ($1,350).
Highlights from the toys category included a Strauss “Ham and Sam the Minstrel Team” tin litho wind-up toy, 8 inches tall, rated 8.75, in good condition with an operational motor and only minor wear at the joints from routine use ($660); and a Japanese X-5 tin litho friction drive space ship, 12 inches long, rated 9, in good condition. It went to a determined bidder for $495.
A Sports Land Japanese tin litho wind-up Cardinal ride, 5 ½ inches tall, rated 7, showing wear but with a working motor, changed hands for $440; an All-Stars Mr. Baseball, Jr. tin litho battery-operated toy, showing Mickey Mantle, 7 ½ inches tall (no baseballs) went for $413; and an Arnold “Mac 700” tin litho wind-up motorcycle with rider, 7 ¾ inches long, rated 9, hit $468.
Tops in the advertising signs category was a Diamond Horseshoes Calks single-sided tin embossed sign in a wood frame, 36 inches by 24 inches, with superb graphics and in great shape with only minor wear, marked Donaldson Art Sign Co, Covington, N.Y. ($1,705). Also, a metal Penny toy ship with two stacks, 4 ¾ inches long, in very good condition, rated 9, went for $319.
Rounding out just some of the sale’s top lots, a Chein Hercules Royal Blue Line (“Coast to Coast Service”) tin litho bus, 18 inches long, rated 7.9, in good condition and with a straight body, having only minor paint damage and rust, rolled off for $633; while a die-cast Matchbox Major Caterpillar Earthmover #M-1, new in the box, rated 9.5, 4 inches long, topped out at $275.
Matthews Auctions’ next big sale is right around the corner: a Feb. 28-Mar. 1 event to be held in Peotone, Ill., prior to the start of the very popular Chicagoland Petroliana & Advertising Show, held twice a year in Peotone. Mr. Matthews said this auction could well be his biggest sale of the year, one filled with high-value petroliana and advertising signs – truly exceptional items.
Then, on Wednesday, Apr. 3, Matthews Auctions will conduct an online-only auction, featuring 250 lots of toys (many of them automobile-related) and gas station collectibles. Items already consigned include a Marx Sunnyside gas station with the original car, Wyandott and Japanese tin litho toys and Metalcraft examples. It will be a timed event, set to begin closing at 6 p.m., with a staggered ending. Watch their website for more details.