Highly refined estate collection includes very rare rail transportation artifacts, locomotive hardware, 60 porcelain signs, station clocks, gate & station signage, more
LONE JACK, Mo. – Collectors won’t need a ticket to “ride the rails” at Soulis Auctions’ December 14 sale of the late Edward P McHugh III’s railroadiana collection. All are welcome to view, enjoy and bid on the historically significant relics from the golden era of rail travel (1865 to 1960) amassed over a lifetime of involvement in the hobby.
The McHugh collection consists of rare and iconic railroadiana, historical locomotive hardware, mid-20th-century transportation artifacts, 60 porcelain signs, and a specialty sub-collection of nautical antiques. To refine the railroad-related items even further, there are locomotive bells and lights, lanterns, china and silver, railroad station clocks, gate and station signs, and much more.
If the objects in the McHugh collection could talk, perhaps none would have more interesting tales to tell than the builder’s plate from the SS President Warfield. Christened in 1927 by Bessie Wallis Warfield, niece of the ship’s namesake Solomon Davies Warfield and the future Duchess of Windsor, the SS President Warfield plied the waters of Chesapeake Bay without fanfare for 20 years. That is, unless you count the experiences of folks like Hans and Frieda Marx of Baltimore.
Before the Warfield – later renamed the SS Exodus 1947 – became historically important for transporting displaced Jewish refugees during World War II, it was Hans and Frieda’s “honeymoon boat.” Throughout the 1930s and ’40s they would take many other pleasure trips aboard the Warfield, thus strengthening their ties to the vessel. However, when Hans learned that the Warfield was to be dismantled, he rushed to the shipwreckers’ scrapyard and obtained permission to take a few souvenirs, including the builder’s plate. Soulis Auctions will offer the bronze plate, together with period photos of the ship and passengers Hans and Frieda Marx, with a $3,000-$5,000 estimate.
A stylish witness to the Art Deco period, a streamlined backlit aluminum railroad passenger car sign designed by Henry Dreyfuss (1904-1972) was commissioned by New York Central Railroad for its luxury train the 20th Century Limited. An industrial designer of renown, Dreyfuss’ commissions included smaller functional items like fountain pens, cameras and appliances, as well as the complete interiors and exteriors of trains and even 20,000-ton ocean liners. The sign to be auctioned has a slightly convex polished-aluminum frame with horizontal bars enclosing the message “20TH CENTURY LIMITED.” The highest-estimated of the sale’s eight drumhead lots, it could command a bid in the range of $10,000-$15,000.
Dirk Soulis noted that railroad “drumhead” or tail signs are “very rare and somewhat of a Holy Grail in collecting.” He went on to say that the McHugh collection includes “more authentic drumhead signs than have been offered in all other railroadiana auctions on record with LiveAuctioneers, combined.”
Among the drumheads offered are: a reverse-painted example for the Wabash Limited Kansas City-Omaha-Des Moines train, estimated at $3,000-$5,000; B&O Railroad signs for the Capitol Limited and National Limited, each estimated at $2,500-$3,500; and a lighted, chrome-bezel Santa Fe Super Chief sign with a striking Indian chief graphic. $2,500-$4,000.
Vibrant and eye-catching, a high-quality enameled-porcelain sign advertising Santa Fe Railroad’s Chicago to Los Angeles train “The Scout,” which operated from 1936 to 1948, depicts a rider on a galloping horse, with the distinctive Santa Fe logo in the background. The 20¼ by 40½-inch sign is a rare original in very fine condition and was part of the Ed McHugh collection “long before any copies came to the market,” Soulis said. Estimate: $4,000-$6,000
Dirk Soulis’ Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 Auction of the Edward P McHugh III Railroadiana Collection will begin with an uncataloged session at 10 a.m. CT /11 a.m. ET, followed by the cataloged session, which starts at 11 a.m. CT/12 noon ET. All forms of bidding will be available including absentee and live online through LiveAuctioneers. The gallery preview will be held on Friday, Dec. 13 from 2-5 p.m.; on auction day from 8:30 a.m. till start time, or by appointment. Gallery address: 529 W. Lone Jack Lee’s Summit Rd., Lone Jack (suburban Kansas City), MO 64070 Questions: Tel. 816-697-3830, email Dirk@SoulisAuctions.com.