|By Nancy Kelly
Ottawa Lake, Mich. — This year brought the 13th annual New Year’s Day sale for Leonard’s Auctions, and the second time it was expanded to a two-day sale. Richard Leonard and his staff worked hard to assemble a beautiful catalog featuring color photos and descriptions of each item. This preparation was necessary because his auctions were simultaneously held online. There were approximately 50 people in attendance in the room, but Leonard noted that more than 500 people from more than seven countries had registered to bid online. While he enjoys the added exposure (and resulting competitive bidding) he said he felt like he was in mourning due to the loss of interaction with his on-site buyers.
The 553 items for both days were nicely displayed around the spacious, heated pole barn and tagged with lot numbers. The exceptional merchandise ranged from fine quality furniture to bronze statues, collectible glassware, vintage advertising signs, art, and a variety of antiques. There was a 15 percent buyer’s premium charged, which was reduced to 10 percent if paying by cash or check; that is not reflected in the final prices here.
The stars of the day were the advertising signs. In particular, a porcelain yellow and red striped barber shop advertising sign measuring a massive 72-inches wide by 20-inches high was the highest selling item of the day with a final bid of $2,000. It had small holes through the body of the sign and it was speculated that there used to be neon letters attached on the front using those holes for anchor points. Not far behind was a Super Pyro snowman sign with the slogan The money saving anti-freeze, lasts longer.
It measured 18-inches wide by 32-inches tall and came complete with a built-in thermometer. It proved popular with a final bid of $1,800.
Other interesting signs included a diamond-shaped RC Royal Crown Cola sign 51-inches wide by 54-inches tall that was claimed for $400, a smaller RC Cola sign that also went for $400, and a vintage Vernor’s Deliciously Different double-sided sign that finished at $200.
Those looking for furniture had an amazing array of items of which to choose. Elegant china cabinets in a variety of styles and woods, buffet servers, ornate Victorian secretaries and hutches, walnut desks and tables, and so many more handsome wood furnishings were all offered and eagerly claimed.
Most sold in the $130-400 range. However, one of the most popular furniture items was a much more basic style. It was a rustic, sturdy Mission oak drop front desk with many hand-made features including the drawer handles, hinged desk surface and two side doors. It stood 46-inches tall by 42-inches wide. This item left for a new home with a high bid of $435. A wooden chest that was offered as a 1794 dowry chest proved to be a very popular treasure from the past, drawing a final bid of $700. Another rarely seen item that could be of service was a “traveling funeral kneeler,” a fancy silver metal frame covered in pale green fringed cloth and cushions. The high bidder took it home with a closing bid of $350.
Collectible art proved to be very popular with the bidders, and some unusual and lovely items offered earned respectable prices. A signed head bust done by African American artist Ed Dwight cast in metal saw active bidding, ending with a high bid of $1,000.
A pair of identical bronze Foo dogs or Chinese Guardian Lions measuring 29-inches tall was also in demand, commanding a final bid of $775. Two Dali pieces were offered, including Head of Women Forming for Battle a lithograph etching that saw a bid of $600. A Dali Grand Paranoia lithograph etching finished at $350.
A statue of Marilyn Monroe in her famous skirt flying up pose from the movie The Seven Year Itch was claimed for a final bid of $60. Many more figurines, vases, paintings, and other appealing accessories also crossed the auction block.
While some small toys were offered, two larger items drew the most attention. A purple Schwinn Sting Ray Grape Krate bicycle complete with white banana seat in very good condition left with a high bid of $500. An eye-catching pedal car shaped like a plane complete with wings and a Lucky Lady logo on the front cruised away with a high bid of $250.
After the auction catalog had been created, two more items were added and offered for sale. First was a brilliant 1927 Pine Tree 72-piece International Sterling Silver flatware set in the wooden box that ended with a high bid of $800. The second was a 1902 14K gold Waltham pocket watch featuring Roman numerals that was eagerly claimed for a final bid of $550.
One of the more unusual items offered was a vintage Heidbrink Kinetometer Anesthesia Machine. A quick glance online cautions that this machine is for display purposes only, as the intricate array of tubes, knobs, and buttons certainly conjures up an earlier period in medical science. This fascinating device was claimed with a high bid of $350.
Richard Leonard is always accepting items from estates to feature in upcoming auctions, and the new year promises to be a busy one. He is also a licensed Realtor and can assist in real estate transactions. Serving southeast Michigan and northern Ohio, he can be reached at 734-856-6530 or via his website www.leonards.us.