Morphy’s to roll out 1,100+ premium-grade advertising signs, gas pumps & globes, and railway rarities at Oct. 3-4 Automobilia, Petroliana & Railroadiana Auction

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Featured: Private collection of 50 neon signs, including Mohawk Gasoline, Chevrolet, Edsel & Lincoln/Zephyr car dealerships, United Motors Service with ‘spinning’ tires

DENVER, Pa. – An exciting array of antique and vintage automobilia, petroliana and railroadiana is revved up and ready to power across the auction block at Morphy’s Lancaster County, Pennsylvania gallery on Sunday and Monday, October 3 and 4. All remote forms of bidding will be available for those who cannot attend in person, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live.

Rare and outstanding Bruinoil & Bruin Gasoline double-sided die-cut tin flange sign, circa 1920s, Butler Oil Co., Butler, Pa. Likely new/old stock and one of the best of all known examples. Estimate $35,000-$50,000
Rare and outstanding Bruinoil & Bruin Gasoline double-sided die-cut tin flange sign, circa 1920s, Butler Oil Co., Butler, Pa. Likely new/old stock and one of the best of all known examples. Estimate $35,000-$50,000

More than 1,100 premium-quality lots will be offered, including 471 gas/oil signs, 59 gas pumps and 53 globes; 40 branded product cans, and much more. A special highlight of the October 4th session is a private collection of approximately 50 breathtaking neon signs led by two different designs touting Mohawk Gasoline, and a 134-inch-long porcelain “torpedo” sign from Bob McDorman Chevrolet, a legendary Ohio dealership founded in 1965. In addition, there are 397 golden-era railroadiana lots that run the gamut from functional items such as lanterns, locomotive steam whistles and ornate fire gongs to scarce and pristine signs representing storied railroad lines. 

Many of the colorful petroleum signs in the October sale are from collections that were established decades ago, when pristine examples were much easier to find. But those days are long gone, and many of the country’s top collectors rely on Morphy’s as a source for signs that either have eluded them or never before appeared at auction.

Absentee bidders are already lining up to vie for a Bruinoil and Bruin Gasoline double-sided die-cut tin flange sign with the image of a ferocious bear with its mouth agape. The circa-1920s sign in eye-catching red and yellow was produced for Butler Oil Co., of Butler, Pa., and based on its exemplary condition, is likely from new/old stock. Graded 9.25+ on one side and 8.9+ on the other, it is unquestionably one of the finest of all known survivors of its type. Estimate: $35,000-$50,000

A double-sided Good Gulf Gasoline & Supreme Auto Oil service station advertising sign has an appealing primitive look that collectors really go for. While many people are familiar with later Gulf signs designed as an orange ball with the brand name in navy blue against a white ground, few have seen a sign like the one in Morphy’s sale. Predominantly black with red and known as a Flexlume sign, it has bright, clean milk glass lettering on each side and an internal light that illuminates beautifully. Measuring 57½ by 74 by 9 1/3 inches, it is expected to sell for $25,000-$50,000.

Morphy’s gallery is aglow with neon colors from a stellar selection of signs advertising various car manufacturers, gasoline brands, service and parts retailers and gas stations. Leading the group is a fantastic Mohawk Gasoline circular porcelain neon service station with the image of a Native American brave, mounted on its original cast-metal stand. Made in the 1930s for Mohawk Oil Co., of Bakersfield California, it is in 9.0+ condition and estimated at $80,000-$120,000. A different Mohawk neon sign, double-sided with a bullet shape, is on target to reach $20,000-$35,000.

A statement piece for any collector’s man cave or hobby room, a double-sided “torpedo” porcelain neon dealership sign for Bob McDorman Chevrolet dealership in Ohio exhibits beautifully illuminating bright pink neon on each side. A massive 75 by 134 by 32 inches, it is in excellent condition, and like a number of other signs in the auction, has been TAC-authenticated. Estimate: $25,000-$40,000. Also, one of the finest of all known examples of a vertical, double-sided green neon sign for Edsel automobiles measures 127 inches long and is estimated at $20,000-$30,000.

Those who like movement with their neon might steer their bidding toward a United Service Motors porcelain and neon advertising sign that depicts an early open-top car in profile. When the sign is activated, the neon around the car’s tires “spins,” rendering the illusion of a car in motion. Estimate: $20,000-$40,000

A very rare Wayne Boyle Dayton Model #1950 clock-face gas pump in excellent condition, with a milk glass clock face on both sides, is set to hit $15,000-$30,000. A highly desirable 1930s Marland Aviation Gasoline (Ponca City, Okla.) gas pump globe lens depicting a single-engine airplane in flight is cataloged with a $15,000-$20,000 estimate, while a lens created for the venerable Oklahoma brand Kerr McGee Oil Industries / Sooner Supreme Products may settle in the $15,000-$25,000 range.

Highlights among the nearly 400 lots of railroadiana include a full-scale trade show exhibit prototype model of a Slawson Automatic Railroad Crossing Warning Signal. Made entirely of welded sheet steel and wired for four warning lights, it stands 106 inches tall. It comes with an extensive archive of photos, patent drawings, railroad correspondence and more. Estimate: $10,000-$20,000

Sixty-six railroad lantern lots include many with gorgeous colored glass globes. An 1880s MM Buck brass-top bell-bottom lantern has a selenium-red No. 39 extended-base globe embossed ‘D. & R G. R.R” in strong relief. Its estimate is $2,000-$15,000.

Every imaginable type of railroad sign can be found in this sale, from station, ticket office, cautionary and directional signs to train number plates, announcements and advertisements for particular railroads, including a Canadian Pacific beaver mascot die-cut porcelain sign, $3,000-$5,000. A 3-piece set of Union Pacific Railroad “Wings, either from an earlier diesel locomotive or gas turbine and executed in UPR colors measures 108 inches when the full set is combined. In excellent condition, it is estimated at $7,500-$10,000.

Morphy’s Sunday/Monday, October 3-4, 2021 Automobilia, Petroliana & Railroadiana Auction will be held live at Morphy’s gallery, 2000 N. Reading Rd., Denver, PA 17517, starting on both days at 9 a.m. Eastern Time. Preview by appointment. All forms of bidding will be available, including live online via Morphy Live. For additional information, call 877-968-8880, email [email protected]. View the fully illustrated catalog online at www.morphyauctions.com.

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James Ardis
James Ardis
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James Ardis is a writer, editor, and content strategist focused on the auction industry. His company, James Ardis Writing, has partnered with auction houses, galleries, and many clients outside the art world.

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