|Stagecoach gallops away at Showtime auction
|ANN ARBOR, Mich. – “It was one of the best Fall auctions we have ever had,” said Michael Eckles, owner of Showtime Auction Services after a colossal three-day sale of some of the rarest Western and Native American artifacts that have ever come to market.
The 1,800-lot sale, held in three sessions from Sept. 29-Oct. 1 was characterized by its extensive diversity and unusual material. The depth of the material was impressive. It offered the iconic collection of Brad and Mary Watts, as well as an exceptional advertising collection, guns and knives, art pottery, tribal weavings, cigar store Indians, and a one-of-a kind stagecoach.
“Over 3,000 online bidders participated in the sale, with many from Australia, France, Germany, Japan, China, and many other countries,” Eckles said. “My wife Lori and I are very hands-on about our business and prefer to run our company without any fulltime employees. Therefore, we only have two sales a year, one in the Spring and one in the Fall, and because of our all-out approach to each and every sale they are always “blockbusters,” so to speak. We get stronger and stronger with every auction. This sale was remarkable by any standard. It took us 10 days to set up and the staging was terrific. We typically sell over 50 different categories of antiques and collectibles, but are mostly known for country store and advertising. The Western genre was something that was a little different for us. We got to meet new people and expand our knowledge, as well as our client base. It was a lot of fun and well received by bidders, both nationally and internationally.”
One head-turning attraction was an all original 1840s Concord stagecoach. It was in excellent original condition and made to hold up to 12 people inside and three on top. The coach was elaborately detailed and sold complete with two trunks and a mail bag for the handsome price of $96,000.
Firearms and gunpowder posters sold exceedingly well. An 1889 calendar for Union Metallic Cartridge Co., made by G.H. Buck and Co. Lithographer, believed to be one of only a few in existence, commanded the strong sum of $15,080. It depicted an attractive woman hunter breastplated with artillery from shoulder to shoulder as she loaded her rifle. She was appropriately dressed in feminine attire, wearing a floppy bonnet, a ribbon at her neck, and gloved hands, a social must for any respectable woman of the day.
A pair of extravagantly detailed women’s cowgirl boots from the 1950s was embellished with a red Victory Eagle and star motif in multi-colors of black, red, green, tan and white. The pair was cataloged as ‘Fabulous’ and were estimated at $1,000 to $1,500, but flew past the mark to achieve $6,710.
Another auction highlight was a self-framed tin sign by Geo. Benz & Sons, St. Paul-Minneapolis, which advertised Uncle Sam’s Monogram Whiskey. It portrayed an unusual illustration of Uncle Sam smiling as he poured himself a shot. The catalog noted, “This piece has not been offered at auction and is the only one known.” It was in excellent condition and realized $24,570.
Fourteen Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show programs, that dated from 1885 to 1909, were offered individually and sold for the total amount of $15,136. Each one illustrated a dramatic presentation in excellent color and all were in good condition.
The Brad and Mary Watts Collection is renowned for its outstanding Native American Indian Ollas. An Apache pictorial Olla jar, circa 1915, was made with willow and martynia coils on a willow rod foundation. It was decorated with triple step diagonal bands that framed panels of ladders, dragonflies, and human forms. The piece was featured in Arizona Highways magazine in July of 1975. It stood 22 inches tall with a 19 ½ inch diameter and realized $19,520.
Among the many unusual items offered was a pair of figural Native American Indian cigar lighters. The solid bronze figures, one male and one female, stood with emerald green swirl glass globes hoisted on their shoulder with one hand. In the other hand the woman held a spear and the man lifted a bow. Each measured 19 inches tall, and the pair sold more than five times the high estimate for $5,185.
A Rookwood silver-overlay humidor had an image of a Native American man, circa 1896. It was marked with the Rookwood flame on bottom, numbered S1229, and signed by Matt Daly (1860-1937), a renowned Rookwood pottery artist. The piece was 8 inches tall and 6 1/2 inches in diameter and brought $7,930.
Firearms of special note included a Winchester Model 1894 “Deer Slayer” rifle. It was a 25/35 gauge trapper’s model that was made in 1913. It had a leather covered stock, was in excellent original condition, and fetched $11,590.
Other high achievers were represented by a Zang Pilsner Beer reverse glass sign that brought $19,720. This hard-to-find piece, from the Ph. Zang Brew. Co. Denver, was mounted in a period gesso frame and was in exceptionally good condition. An original Stetson Hat Co. window card, titled “The last drop from his Stetson,” portrayed a weather beaten cowboy down on one knee with a water canteen by his feet. He held his Stetson upside down using it as a water trough for his horse to drink the last of the water. This work opened at a modest $100, flew past the estimate of $350 to $750, and commanded $5,490.
An especially appealing work among the paintings was an oil on canvas, titled The Dog Soldier, by Gerry Metz. It depicted a winter scene in which an Indian hunted on skis in a snow covered landscape. He was dressed in what we now call a Pendleton Glazier Park pattern blanket. The gilt framed piece measured 30 by 20 inches and sold for $3,660.
Prices include a 16 to 22 percent buyer’s premium.