Union Minute Man Service sign hits $12,938 at Matthews Auctions

A round Union “Minute Man Service” double-sided porcelain sign with graphics, 30 inches in diameter and boasting great gloss and color, sold for $12,938 – a new record price for that sign – at an auction held April 16 by Matthews Auctions, LLC. The sale was held in the modern facilities of Redlands Antique Auction in Redlands, Calif. Matthews Auctions, LLC typically holds two sales a year there.

The sign was rated 9 out of 10 for condition on one side and 8.9 on the other (a tiny chip in the field center was the only flaw). It was the top lot at a sale Matthews Auctions, LLC billed as the Spring 2011 Petroliana & Advertising Auction. Headlining the event was the collection of Sally Parks of Thousand Oaks, Calif., nicknamed ‘Gas Pump Sally’ for her many rare gas pumps.

One of Sally’s gas pumps was the second top lot of the auction. It was a Wayne Roman column ten-gallon visible gas pump, complete and in very good condition. It climbed to $12,650. The fully complete gas pump was primed and ready to paint, with a good cylinder and all of its original pieces. Of the 430 lots that changed hands, only the pump and the sign topped $10,000.

Attendance drove the auction’s success. Over 200 people attended in person (accounting for 55 percent of the total lots sold), while Internet bidding (facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.com and Proxibid.com) drew about 400 registered bidders (representing a 10 percent and 30 percent sell-through, respectively). Phone and absentee bids combined for a total of 5 percent of sales.

A Union Ethyl Gasoline double-sided tin die-cut tombstone sign, with logo graphic and measuring 12 ½ inches by 10 inches, both sides showing minor wear and rated 8.9, marked “Donaldson Art Sign,” garnered $2,300; and an Eco Model 224 air meter with water dispensers, 57 inches, in very good condition and with the light and meters both working, brought $1,955.

A pair of Phillips pieces sold for identical prices of $1,035. One was a Phillips Unique globe with 13 ½ inch lenses on a glass globe body, featuring a good body and with the lenses rated a respectable 8.5. The other was a Phillips 66 double-bubble clock with red and white logo, 16 inches in diameter and rated 9+ for condition. The clock was functioning and in good shape.

Rounding out the day’s top lots, a Union Products “No Trespassing” single-sided porcelain sign, measuring 8 inches by 24 inches and rated an excellent 9.75 for condition, breezed to $1,035; and a Mobiloil “E” double-sided porcelain paddle sign for Ford cars, with a gargoyle logo, hit $518. The display side was rated 9, while the reverse (with crazing) was 8.5.

Following are additional highlights from the sale. All prices quoted include a 15 percent buyer’s premium.

A Signal Gas double-sided porcelain sign with a black stoplight graphic, 45 inches in diameter and with both sides rated 8 out of 10, with good gloss and color (its only blemish being a few small chips in the field) topped out at $4,600; and a Union Service Stations bench with a porcelain back rest, rated 8.9 and measuring 32 inches by 50 inches by 29 inches, rose to $4,312.

A Hi-Power Gasoline globe with ethyl logo lenses in an original red ripple glass globe body, with the lens rated 8.5 and the body in good condition, went to a determined bidder for $2,760; and a very rare Union Oil Company single-sided porcelain sign with red, white and blue logo, measuring 7 inches by 7 inches and rated near-mint at 9+, changed hands for $2,300.

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