|By Barb Van Loo
BRIGHTON, Mich. — Big Cheese Productions, located in Brighton, Mich., offers a wide range of petroleum-related products, including gas pumps, globes, neon and other signs, and antiques. Terry Hubert, owner of Big Cheese Productions, procures items in the above genres in order to be able to offer these items to collectors and other interested parties. His facility contains many hard-to-find pieces, which he offers at fair prices. Periodically throughout the year, he selects fine pieces and presents them to the public through the auction forum. With the assistance of guest auctioneer Mike Walrod, he recently presented many hard-to-find and interesting items with the primary focus being those found in the petroleum industry.
“Collecting petro is more than a hobby, it’s an invitation to meet, greet and enjoy!” Hubert says. “There are uncounted treasures out there to be found, restored, traded and displayed ... Collecting petro is FUN!”
In 1930, those charged with writing the advertising for Sinclair Oil found that the oils being refined came from Pennsylvania-grade crude oils that were laid down during the Mesozoic era when there were dinosaurs. They used a series of different dinosaurs in their ads but found that one of them definitely had more appeal with the public. This was the peace-loving Apatosaurus. Because of the public’s acceptance, this is the one that became “Dino” and he has been the symbol of Sinclair since that time. An 8-foot fiberglass Dino, when brought to the block, sold for $825.
Rat Fink is a hot-rod character created by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. Roth thought of him as an anti-hero to Mickey Mouse and created him in green with bulging, bloodshot eyes, an oversized mouth with narrow yellow teeth and gave him a yellow T-shirt with R.F. on it. This rather odd-looking creature was first advertised in July 1963 in Car Craft and continues to be popular in some circles. The fiberglass Rat Fink character at this auction sold for $475.
Did you ever wonder how the iconic Big Boy came to be? In 1936, Bob Wian purchased a small hamburger stand in Glendale, Calif., which he named Bob’s Pantry. The next year, one of his regular customers asked for something different and, in answer to this request, Wian made the first double-decker hamburger. This was especially popular to a chubby little 6-year-old boy wearing droopy overalls who would often help Wian around the restaurant in exchange for a free burger. In honor of this little kid, Wian named the burger Big Boy. Another customer made a sketch on a napkin of a little boy in overalls – thus, the Big Boy character came about. The 8-foot fiberglass Big Boy sold for $1,500.
The most desirable gas pump was the Fry Model 117 visible gas pump from the 1920s. This desirable piece sold for $3,100. A Texaco visible pump, a repro, sold for $1,000; a Wayne 70 pump saw $275; and a second Texaco pump crossed the block for $300.
Other gas pumps included a 1940s Erie with a Sinclair sign that sold for $300; a 1940s Tokheim 39 pump that also brought $300; a 1950s Wayne 80 pump that sold for $450; a 1950s Bennett pump that crossed the block for $200; and a Wayne 70 that saw $400.
An original one-piece globe for Qualiteed gasoline and oils was desired by many bidders and sold for $1,600. Two other original globes also demanded attention, resulting in final bids of $700 for a Midway High Power gas globe (some restoration) with the slogan “Hasn’t Knocked Yet” and a Fyre-Drop globe that sold for $625. A Red Crown globe sold for $245; a double glass Shell globe earned $200; and a double-sided Harley globe saw $105.
There were several sets of either two or three oil bottles including Polly, Sinclair, Shell and Texaco. These sets sold for an average of $95 per set.
With an abundance of neon signs, most of them petroleum-related, collectors had several from which to choose. $600 was the final bid for a large neon Polly gas sign, a neon Flying A gasoline sign, and a large neon Texaco sign.
A 46-inch Texaco neon sign with boats earned $500; a Ford V-I sign earned $350, as did a triangular Coca-Cola sign. Other neon signs included a round Harley-Davidson sign that sold for $250, as did a round Moline Plow Co. sign, a Super Bee gasoline sign, a sign for Ford, and an OK Used Cars sign.
An original neon pin-up sign for AC spark plugs sold for $220; and another pin-up sign, this one for Corvette, earned $400.
Other signs of interest included a vertical sign for Pepsi, “Say Pepsi Please,” that sold for $300; a double-sided Gulf sign that saw $425; and an oval Pennzoil sign that was declared “Sold” at $200.
Original signs included one for Wolf’s Head motor oil that sold for $160; a double-sided porcelain Phillips 66 sign described as “not in real good condition, but original,” which sold for $230; a porcelain Iso-Vis sign that earned $500; a Sunoco sign that sold for $190; and a porcelain double-sided Shell sign that crossed the block at $350.
There were several additional interesting and unusual items for bidders to obtain, some petroleum-related and some just plain interesting. One of these items was a 6-foot figure of a mechanic holding his wrenches in his left hand and not really looking like he was ready to begin work. He sold for $700. A 3 1/2-foot butler with a very dour expression and in a wrinkled suit with a red flower in his lapel didn’t find as much interest and sold for $140.
For the doting grandfather (or grandmother), there was an amusement ride, a Spider-Man car, to set up in the yard. This sold for $325. A Jet Rider arcade game sold for $600; and another arcade game, this one named Relief Pitcher, sold for $100.
Also for the grandkids, there was a Ford pedal tractor that sold for $95 and a Jeep pedal car that crossed the block for $150. Want something a little slower? There was a Mobo horse that sold for $110. For an older grandchild, there was a Honda 350 that sold for $500 and a red Kawasaki that crossed the block for $400.
Among the clocks, there was a 50th anniversary Mustang clock stating “The Legend Lives” that sold for $100; a 20-inch Super Bee double-neon clock that earned $95; and a Gulf clock with a double-band of neon that earned $130.
Wooden Indians included two smaller ones, each about 4 feet tall, that sold for $110 and $140; and a life-size one that crossed the block for $475.
There was a reproduction white milk glass eagle that sold for $200; and an oil rack on wheels in original condition that earned a final bid of $230. If there was a dedicated collector who purchased more than he could take home in the vehicle he arrived in, there was an enclosed trailer offered. It sold for $500.
This was a very interesting auction with many petroleum-related items to remind one of the past. For additional information, contact Terry Hubert at (819) 225-1886 or check out his Big Cheese website at www.bigcheesepetro.com