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News Article  
School Zone sign sells for $240 at Mel White auction
By Nancy Kelly

DEWITT, Mich. – After years of accumulating Joyce Hoover and her husband decided it was time to part with their collections.

Auctioneer Mel White said he has been in the auction business for 45 years, and some of the things for sale on this day he had never come across before, such as the large cast iron “School Zone” sign, which was claimed with a $240 high bid. The pole barn was filled and Mel sold as fast as the words could come out of his mouth, but it still took eight hours to disperse it all. There was no buyer’s premium charged, so prices listed here are the actual selling prices.

There was a mix of antique and contemporary furniture segregated to one side of the building, and while the modern furniture drew modest bids, the antique wood furniture was much more popular. Topping out the bidding for the day were two very unusual pieces. First was a huge dry sink, measuring about 6 feet in length with two cupboard doors below that was rehomed with a high bid of $600. The other was an unusual 8-foot long wooden counter containing 15 bins or drawers with glass fronts to show the grain or other substances inside which looked like it belonged in a retail establishment. This massive piece generated an enthusiastic bidding volley before also finishing at $600. An antique pie safe with two doors, four sturdy shelves, and an ornate top decoration closed at $270, an impressive two-piece painted antique kitchen cabinet with hutch and numerous drawers went for $525, and an oak icebox with two doors in excellent condition also sold for $525.

Antique stepback cabinets also proved popular, with one that had cloth curtains in the windows of the cupboard doors faring the best with a final bid of $400. Large, imposing antique wardrobes were offered in a variety of sizes and styles, including one that had spoon-carved detail that cleared at $90 and one that had a hidden trap door compartment inside the base that finished at $110. Other unusual and functional antique furniture, including cabinets, chests, and shelves, were offered and quickly claimed.

Several people studied the antique Home Comfort wrought iron wood cook stove model A1 with its massive structure, but the general feeling was that it would be a real challenge to transport. In reasonably good condition, it did find a new owner with a high bid of $160. A beautifully ornate antique Oakland parlor stove by the Wehrle Co. of Newark, Ohio, was taken away with a final bid of $75.

Some of the unique items were real puzzles. At one point, Mel said “I don’t know what it does, but if you buy it, you get to decide.” Other pieces were appealing and delightful to consider. A light cover or globe that was the size and shape of a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and also bore the logo and likeness of the Colonel generated several comments and laughter. The high bidder eagerly claimed his prize with a bid of $150, and then jokingly said he was going to put it up in his bathroom. A very large tin box with the logo for Boston Roasted Coffee was a surprise star when its bidding soared to a final price of $180. Two antique carriage-style lights whose make was thought to be Ford were carried off with a final bid of $80 for the pair and a beautiful, ornate metal terrarium on a floor stand finished at $110.

Numerous stoneware crocks and jugs were offered, some antique and some contemporary. There was a Rockdale crock honoring Ingham County with a drawing in blue ink of the courthouse in Mason, Mich., and the date 1983. Although not an old item, it still proved popular with a final bid of $55. Crocks for DeWitt and Fowlerville did not fare as well, with closing bids of $7.50 to $10. A small crock with numerous characters on it that Mel felt dated it to the 1800s was claimed with a high bid of $70, and a butter churn was eagerly won with a $140 bid. A 5-gallon crock with handles closed at $75, a 5-gallon jug went for $45, and an attractive large stoneware bowl crossed the block with a final bid of $30. A few of the crocks had cracks, but most were in very good condition.

Enamelware and graniteware bowls, plates, and pans were popular with the bidders, and there were a variety of items to choose from. The most unusual of the group was yet another piece that Mel White said he had never seen in all of his years of business. It was a graniteware small tub, about 24 inches long by 14 inches across, with what appeared to be a built-in soap holder at one end. He guessed that it might have been for giving baths to youngsters. After discussing the item, it was quickly claimed with a high bid of $60. A small soapstone footwarmer left with a high bid of $30. Enamel-coated cast-iron kitchen items were also sought after, with a turquoise-colored coffeepot finishing at $40, a matching turquoise cook pot at $27.50, and a colander at $35. When a similar iron was held up for bids, Mel commented that he remembered his mother using one on their clothes, which dated it back to the late 1940s. It finished with a high bid of $15. A miniature washtub with a miniature wringer mounted on it along with a miniature washboard was debated as to whether it might be a salesman’s sample, but the consensus was that it was too big for that. The cute ensemble finished with a high bid of $110.

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