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Gas Station Memorabilia, Petroliana Signs, Automobilia Do Well In Miller & Miller's Auction

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By Author: Ethan Miller
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Two Supertest Service Station (“Canada’s All Canadian Company”) double-sided porcelain hanging signs sold for a combined $41,300 and a Bennett 541 Supertest gas pump from the 1940s brought $20,060 in an online Petroliana & Advertising auction held May 15th by Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. The auction overall grossed $341,905.

All prices quoted in this report are in Canadian dollars and are inclusive of the buyer’s premium.

The auction was headlined by the Bill McNevan collection of gas station memorabilia that featured items from Supertest, Red Indian, British American, Imperial, Reliance, Texaco, Fina, Cities Service and White Rose. Automobilia included signs from Ford, General Motors, Dominion Tires, Good Year, Goodrich and AC and Champion Spark Plugs.

“Collectors are hungry for advertising, and petroliana remains the hottest form of advertising right now,” said Ethan Miller of Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. “This sale was proof. Porcelain dealer signs were in some cases tripling the high estimates. Good porcelain and tin litho signs are off the charts. Many longtime collectors ...
... called me after the sale in bewilderment. They can’t participate in the market with prices at these levels. Some have coined it ‘COVID craziness’.”

The Supertest Service Station (“Canada’s All Canadian Company”) double-sided porcelain hanging signs both carried estimates of $6,000-$8,000. One, from the 1930s, 48 inches in diameter and housed in the original frame, went for $20,060. The other, from the 1940s and larger in size, at 60 inches in diameter, in the original aluminum frame, realized $21,240.

Vintage gas pumps are hugely popular. The 1940s Bennett 541 Supertest pump, repainted to Supertest branding, sailed past its estimate of $4,000-$6,000 to bring $20,060. The 92-inch-tall steel gas pump featured new decals, hose and globe, and had the original ad glass and register dials. The pump was tagged, “Service Station Equipment Co., Ltd., Toronto SSE Bennett ECO”.

Following are additional highlights from the auction, which attracted 352 registered bidders who placed 6,452 online bids. Internet bidding was facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.com and the Miller & Miller website (www.MillerandMillerAuctions.com). One hundred percent of lots were sold, 66 percent of lots met or exceeded estimate, and 31 percent of lots surpassed the high estimate.

A Depression-era Goodrich Tires “Mountie” porcelain sign, 56 inches by 20 inches and arguably Canada’s most recognizable automotive advertising sign, featuring a full-figure Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer in uniform represented in eight colors, garnered $16,520; while a rare 1930s porcelain Canadian Tire Products sign with the early “CTC” maple leaf logo, 24 inches in diameter, with light craze lines, blew past its $2,000-$3,000 pre-sale estimate to finish at $5,015.

Two 1940s Canadian automotive dealer signs, one Ford and one GM, beat their $3,000-$4,000 estimates. The Ford double-sided painted sign (“Ford Genuine Parts”), made from lithographed steel, with applied reflective sand script, 20 ¾ inches by 27 ½ inches, went for $11,210; and the General Motors Products two-sided porcelain dealer sign, displayed back-to-back in its original frame and marked “Property of General Motors Products”, 54 inches by 56 inches, hit $12,980.

A Canadian Red Indian single-sided porcelain service station sign from the 1940s, five feet in diameter, marked “The W. F. Vilas Co. Limited, Cowansville, P.Q.” lower edge, knocked down for $10,620. Also, a Canadian Orange Crush steel and wood store soda cooler from the 1920s, having four embossed lithographed tin panels (two with chalkboards), commanded $7,670.

A Good Year Tires double-sided porcelain wall-mounting flange sign from the 1930s, quite rare and featuring Good Year’s “tire around the world” graphic, 27 ¾ inches by 20 inches, changed hands for $6,490; while a monumental Good Year Tires porcelain sign, also from the 1930s and also scarce, 60 inches by 30 inches, achieved $4,425. Both were made for the Canadian market.

An AC Spark Plugs Chevrolet store counter displays made for the American market in the 1920s, having a lithographed tin body and featuring a rotating integral spark plug storage shelf complete with plug fitting charts, hit $4,130. Also, a 1940s General Motors Trucks double-sided porcelain dealer hanging sign manufactured for the Canadian market, 30 inches in diameter, made $5,310.

A Canadian 1930s Johnson Sea-Horse Outboard Motors single-sided tin litho sign from the Shields General Store in Coboconk, Ontario (still in existence today, as a home hardware store), 11 ¾ inches by 24 inches, earned $5,605. Also, a 1930s-era Fundy milk gas pump globe with a reverse painted glass lens, sold for $3,835. Fundy gas stations were located in eastern Canada.

Miller & Miller Auctions has three auctions lined up for June. They are as follows:

- June 5 - Canadiana & Sporting Auction, featuring the Don & Joyce Blyth collection.

- June 12 - Watches & Jewels

- June 19 - Advertising

The opportunity to consign advertising for the June 19 Sale ends May 22. Contact 519-662-4800 or consignments@millerandmillerauctions.com. To learn more about Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. and their calendar of upcoming auctions, please visit www.MillerandMillerAuctions.com.

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