|By Nancy Kelly
Battle Creek, Mich. — The Mingus Creek area on the edge of Battle Creek had been their home for nearly 30 years, but it was time to downsize and move on. The homeowners contacted auctioneer Claud McMillen and his capable crew to organize and disperse the contents of the house. With items spread around the front yard and driveway on auction day, the staff nervously watched the weather forecast while playing tag with the raindrops. McMillen and his auctioneer sister Holly Johnson ran two rings to quickly move through the inventory. There was no buyer’s premium charged, so final bids listed here are the actual selling prices.
Many typical household furnishings, decorations, lamps, and furniture pieces were offered and sold. As expected, the more unusual items drew the most interest and highest prices. For example, described as a make-up stand, a very narrow and eye-catching wooden vanity with two drawers, an inset flat surface, and a large wooden-framed mirror proved to be popular, drawing a final bid of $160. A small-scale but fully functional oak roll-top desk could possibly have belonged to a child or young adult. The top rolled up smoothly and there were no cracks or chips in the wood. It was claimed with a final bid of $55. A Cable Nelson spinet (small upright) piano in excellent condition was offered along with a matching wooden piano bench filled with music books and a soft tapestry dust cover. Bidding proceeded at the house, but the winning bid belonged to an absentee bidder who purchased the piano for $50. An antique round piano stool with glass ball claw feet and decorative trim on the legs left with a high bid of $55.
The small rooms of the old house made it necessary to move most items outside, but the bedroom set that filled the master bedroom was offered in place. A few people gathered in the room as the handsome queen-sized brass bed frame along with a very clean mattress and box spring set were claimed with a high bid of $50. A very tall and narrow seven-drawer pine dresser fit snugly in the corner and provided a lot of storage in a small footprint.
It was rehomed with a final bid of $60. Other bedroom furnishings were also dispersed. An interesting black enamel painted Asian art cabinet featuring two birds and several flowers on the front was opened to reveal a substantial supply of stemware and other glassware inside. It left with a final bid of $17.50.
Tucked away in a side room there were several pieces of wall art. They included landscape prints, vintage black art, and a few portraits. But the winner in this category by far was the movie poster from The Black Cat, which featured Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in this Edgar Allen Poe 1934 thriller presented by Carl Laemmle. The framed poster had suffered a break in the glass, but it didn’t affect the poster’s condition nor the enthusiasm of the bidders, who drove the final bid up to $100. A few unusual items were also included in this group of decorative pieces. A framed black and yellow jersey with the number 31 and the name Miller was autographed by Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers. This sports souvenir went to a new collector with a final bid of $30. Another sports collectible was a framed blade from the hockey stick of Dino Ciccerelli, #22 of the Detroit Red Wings. This autographed keepsake left with a bid of $5. The pinball fan in the audience had a golden opportunity to add the back glass from the Sharpshooter pinball game to their collection with a final bid of $2.
Boxes and stacks of paper items occupied some of the tables in the front yard. Magazines with names such as Life, Good Housekeeping, Wild West, and Adventure dating from the late 1800s up through the 1950s were stacked for consideration and claimed by various buyers. One particular box that featured 1940s copies of Cosmopolitan and Farm Journal proved very popular, requiring a final bid of $95 to take it home. A stack of vintage Playboy magazines drew a final bid of $35. As he took possession, the high bidder claimed he had only bought the pile because there was a Dodgers program in the stack. A beautiful album containing about 40 local vintage post cards was gladly claimed with a final bid of $40.
McMillen examined one box lot, paused, and carefully drew a single item out to feature it. The vintage book was titled Roll Out the Barrel and it appeared to be the history/yearbook journal for a World War II armored unit. Inside the cover were several signatures, and there were many photos plus text inside. This very special historical record was taken home with a high bid of $20.
Several vases, plates, bowls, and other beautiful glassware and pottery items were available throughout the auction, some selling solo and most in groups. Names such as Roseville, Weller, Lenox, McCoy, and Fitz and Floyd were sprinkled around among the Made in China pieces. However, the star of this category was an approximately 14” tall turquoise-colored Van Briggle Lorelei earthenware vase that finished a bidding volley with a final price of $70.
Being located in the City of Battle Creek, the home of the WK Kellogg cereal company, there were several related items scattered around the sale. The object generating the most discussion was the quart-sized glass milk bottle with the lettering “WK Kellogg Farms Pasteurized Milk”. This unusual collectible sold with a high bid of $65. A box containing Kellogg ornaments, banks, and other miscellaneous related items closed at $35, a framed collection of about 50 Kellogg pins finished at $4, and several boxes stuffed full of unused flat cereal boxes and print test sheets for box artwork were claimed with a bid of $5 per box. A carton of “cereal box stuffers” consisting of numerous small, desirable trinkets drew a final bid of $27.50.
Two legitimate firearms were offered, along with one silly parody. The Remington semi-automatic 12 gauge Sportsman shotgun in clean condition finished at $150 while the Remington Airmaster 77 pump air rifle closed at $20. A weird shot-gun-shaped brown plastic object with a black rubber toilet plunger on the end of the barrel had a label that read “Red Neck Plunger”. It featured gun sound effects when demonstrated and also bore the slogan “The Poo Is Thru”. When the joking and laughter settled down, it was humbly claimed with a bid of $2.
Claud McMillen Auctions & Real Estate Company is a family-run business that has been around since 1982. Along with occasional on-site sales, McMillen hosts numerous auctions throughout the year in his spacious indoor facility in Bellevue, MI. More information is available on his website at https://www.mcmillenauctions.com/ or by calling 269-763-9838