Last call for Bobby Knudsen Jr Automobilia & Petroliana Collection, headlining at Morphy Auctions Sept. 29-Oct. 1
Knudsen’s world-famous assemblage of gas & oil advertising signs will be auctioned on Day 1, with select pieces from other high-end collections offered on Days 2-3
DENVER, Pa. – It has been an exciting year-long journey for automobilia and petroliana collectors since Morphy Auctions first announced a series of sales dedicated to the Bobby Knudsen Jr Collection. Known far and wide for its ultra-rare and super-fine gas, oil and soda pop signs, the Knudsen collection rocked the hobby at no-reserve sales held in fall 2022 and spring 2023, both of which attracted aggressive bidding and set dozens of world records. But all good things must come to an end, and that will happen when the third and final installment of the Knudsen collection is offered exclusively and with no reserve on the opening day of Morphy’s Sept. 29-Oct. 1 Automobilia & Petroliana Auction.
“Many great signs were intentionally set aside for Part III of the Knudsen series,” said John Mihovetz, Morphy Auctions’ Automobilia & Petroliana department head. “Bobby wanted it that way, and so did we. It will be a worthy farewell to a legendary collection.” Days 2 and 3 include select consignments of rare and fresh-to-the-market signs, globes, cans, and gas pumps from other high-end collections, with pre-sale estimates ranging from $100-$100,000.
A valuable bonus applies to all pieces from the Knudsen Collection Part III. Each and every item has been graded, certified and stickered by AGS, the recently launched expert grading service that specializes in antique advertising. Also, two hardbound catalogs have been produced for the upcoming auction: one specifically for the Knudsen Collection Part III, and a second edition that covers the Day 2-3 sessions. The two books are sold as one bundle which also includes a custom slipcase designed to hold the Knudsen catalogs from Parts I, II and III. “The Knudsen catalogs are already regarded as essential reference books. A slipcase is the right way to store them, and we felt it was important to honor Bobby’s collection in that way,” Mihovetz said.
If any auction item has the power to lure collectors to the gallery on September 29th, it’s the rare and outstanding Beacon Ethyl Gasoline (Caminol Co., Los Angeles) single-sided porcelain service station sign from the 1930s. Realistically designed as a lighthouse, it appears to emit beams from its lantern room as ocean waves lap around its base. This sizable (48in x 30in) treasure from the Knudsen collection is AGS-certified and graded 89 on a scale of 1-100. Estimate: $50,000-$100,000
Another dazzler is the circa-1930s Sinclair Aircraft Gasoline double-sided porcelain sign with an early airplane graphic, distinctive Sinclair script, and “orange peel-like” surface. Measuring 48 inches in diameter, this striking, bright-red sign is AGS-certified and graded 88/87 per side on a scale of 1-100. Estimate: $40,000-$80,000
Opportunity rarely knocks for collectors to acquire an extremely rare 1920s Mobiloil double-sided porcelain service station sign with a die-cut graphic of a race car and helmeted driver. “Mobiloil – RECOMMENDED FOR ALL RACE ENGINES,” its message states. Mihovetz observed that the 16-inch-long sign is “one of the most highly sought after of all Mobiloil advertising pieces. It would be nearly impossible to find another one.” AGS-certified and graded 83/80 per side on a scale of 1-100, it is estimated at $20,000-$40,000.
Every petroliana collector recognizes “Oswald the Driver,” the cap and goggle-wearing character who touts “Oilzum Motor Oils & Lubricants – The Cream of Pure Pennsylvania Oil.” A 1937 double-sided tin service station sign bearing the slogan and Oswald the Driver graphic measures 24 inches in diameter and has been AGS-certified and graded 85/81 per side on a scale of 1-100. A winning bid in the $10,000-$20,000 range is predicted.
Moving on to highlights of the September 30 and October 1 sessions, there’s no better way to begin than with an iconic Musgo Gasoline (Muskegon Oil Co., Muskegon, Mich.) one-piece baked gas pump globe with a wonderful image of a Native American chief. The globe is dated September 27, 1929 and stamped “Made In USA.” An incredible example in 9.3 condition, it comes to auction with a $20,000-$40,000 estimate.
Morphy’s called upon AGS to grade and certify some of the auction entries to be sold on Days 2 and 3, including a Hancock “Cock of the Walk” Gasoline single 15-inch gas pump globe lens. Designed with a low-profile metal body, the lens is emblazoned with an eye-catching graphic of the company’s strutting-rooster mascot. AGS-graded an enviable 97 on a scale of 1-100, its auction estimate is $6,000-$12,000.
Bold primary colors and distinctive lettering are seen on a beautiful and very rare McCoard Airliner Gasoline (Provo, Utah) single 13.5-inch gas pump globe lens with a single-prop airplane graphic. Described as “near perfect,” this lens has been AGS-certified and graded 97 on a scale of 1-100. Estimate: $15,000-$25,000
Brimming with vitality and posed against a dazzling background of the Northern Lights, the popular canine mascot for Husky Heavy Duty Motor Oil appears on a 1-quart can that once held the Western Oil and Fuel Company lubricant. The colorful container displays excellent gloss and condition, and is AGS-certified and graded 91 on a scale of 1-100. The pre-sale estimate is $2,000-$4,000.
For the home “service station” or man cave, Morphy’s recommends a circa-1950s GulfLube oil rack complete with 11 GulfLube motor oil cans. All have their top and bottom lids and two of them still contain oil. As complete and nice as any collector could hope for, the rack has an overall excellent appearance and is graded 8.9++. Estimate: $2,000-$4,000
Another gem that would make a great addition to any service station setup is a Wayne Model #50 showcase gas pump that has been professionally restored in Firestone Tires livery. It illuminates perfectly and has all of its glass shelves. Estimate: $10,000-$20,000
Morphy’s Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2023 Automobilia & Petroliana Auction featuring the Bobby Knudsen Jr Collection Part III (Sept. 29 session) will be held live at Morphy’s gallery, 2000 N. Reading Rd., Denver, PA 17517, starting on all three days at 9 a.m. Eastern Time. All forms of bidding will be available, including absentee, phone and live via the Internet through Morphy Live. For questions about any item in the auction, to reserve a phone line or leave an absentee bid, call 877-968-8880 or email [email protected]. View the auction catalog online at www.morphyauctions.com.