An extremely rare El-Bart Dry Gin tin advertising sign, made in 1905 for the Wilson Distilling Co. Kaufmann & Strauss Co., Lithographers, of New York, sold for $60,500 at the sale of The George Cross Collection in Ann Arbor, MI.
“This was one of the finest collections of its kind in the United States,” said Mike Eckles of Showtime Auction Services. “Nearly everything Mr. Cross owned was in mint or near-mint condition. It was a treasure trove for serious collectors who were attracted to the high quality merchandise and the fact that every lot was sold without minimums or reserves. Everything went, regardless of price.”
Cross, who died several weeks before the auction, had a huge collection that included advertising and country store collectibles, Old West memorabilia, etc. By the end of the weekend, about 1,880 lots had changed hands.
The El-Bart Dry Gin sign, still housed in its original gesso frame, was the sale’s top lot. About 500 people made it to the event, in addition to the nearly 2,000 registered online bidders through eBay Live and iCollector.com. Also, more than 1,000 phone bids and about 1,500 absentee were recorded. The sale grossed about $2.7 million.
Other alcoholic-beverage-related highlights from the sale:
• A Buffalo Brewing Co. tin charger in a gold gesso frame and in near-mint condition, was expected to bring about $12,000, but soared to $57,750.
• A rare Buffalo Brewing Co. reverse glass sign (for Buffalo Beer), near-mint and in a gold leaf gesso frame, brought $50,850.
• An H. Guggenheimer & Co., reverse glass sign (Distillers of Fine Whiskies, Cincinnati, OH; Napoleon Wine Co., Napoleon, OH), possibly a one-of-a-kind and in near-mint condition, with a sepia-tone image of a nude at a dressing table, brought $38,500.
• A rare Henry Hunter Fine Old Rye Whiskey tin sign, titled “East Meets West” (A. Hirschman& Co., Proprietors, St. Paul, MN.; Tuscarora Advertising Co. Lithographers, Coshocton, OH), brought $38,500.
• A Days of 49 Whiskey paper sign (Meyerfield, Mitchell & Co., San Francisco), 43” x 30” overall, in its original frame and in excellent condition, brought $33,000.
• A Cyrus Noble Whiskey paper gambling scene sign titled “Bucking the Tiger” — framed under glass in a period oak frame – went for $28,600.
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