ANN ARBOR, MICH. – A magnificent Rock Island Railroad reverse glass sign, made in 1890 by an employee of the firm who fashioned reverse glass lamp shades for the Pullman cars, sold for $165,000 at an auction held April 1-3 by Showtime Auctions, at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds.
The 54 inch by 43 inch piece was beautifully housed in the original gilt frame. “Not only was the sign the earliest and most important piece of advertising
ever made for the Rock Island Railroad, the price realized was the most ever paid for an advertising sign,” said Michael Eckles of Showtime Auctions, adding, “The previous record was $66,000, set at one of my previous auctions.” The Rock Island sign had been in the same family for over 80 years.
The auction was a huge success by anybody’s yardstick. Nearly 1,900 lots changed hands, and by the time it was all over the sale had grossed just under $3 million. About 800 floor bidders attended the event over the course of the three days, grabbing 69 percent of all lots sold. Online bidding saw a 23 percent sell-through.
Headlining the auction was the Earl Hagerman collection of country store and advertising items, many pieces from the Chesapeake Bay Fire Fighting Museum in Maryland, and over 200 rare and vintage toys out of Kansas. “Nearly every lot that crossed the block was an investment-grade, quality collectible item,” Mr. Eckles said. “It was easily the best sale we’ve ever had.”