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News Article  
Super Auction: The collection of collections
By Eric C. Rodenberg

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Auctioneer David G. Helmer’s semiannual “Super Auction” is becoming a legend in its own time.

“A lot of people now think this sale has been around 40 years,” Helmer says. “But, we’ve only been doing this for 10 years. We’re building a following. I can’t believe all the people that’s been coming here from Texas. When you see all the great stuff they buy – and sometimes sell – it’s phenomenal.”

At the 20th anniversary of the semiannual Super Bowl on Aug. 18, more than 500 bidders turned out. They were not disappointed. In rapid-fire succession, Helmer and other auctioneers knocked out more than 1,600 lots in quick fashion.

There was no simulcast live bidding. Super Auction personnel were taking phone bids, however.

“The Super Auction can best be described as an auction that features a collection of collections,” Helmer says. Working with other Michigan auctioneers, Helmer juries and organizes the auction into time slots. Pottery collectors will know pottery sells at 1 p.m., for example, while coin collectors know they have to “be on their mark” at 4 p.m.

It’s “no-mess around” old-fashioned auctioneering at its best. “The Super Auction can sell approximately 1,500 lots in a 6-hour period that is well organized and categorized,” according to Helmer.

Super Auction has become a popular niche for auctioneers. More than 30 auction companies have worked with Helmer during the past decade. Regular companies include the highly reputable Joseph Saine Auctions, Belhorn Auctions, Ken Lindsay’s American Eagle Auction Service and, of course, Braun and Helmer Auction Service.

The bidding public has also stepped up to its popularity, as witnessed by the busy day of auctioning on Aug. 18 at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor. With four auction rings running fulltime, the lifetime collection of Harold and Betty Gumtow drew not only Super Auction’s regulars, but also a bidding frenzy of petroliana and advertising collectors.

Fine examples that sold included a Mobil oil “AF” oil bottle rack, including bottles with caps, brought $2,090; a Mobil gas double-sided porcelain on steel dealer sign, measuring 56 inches by 56 inches, sold for $2,860; a small early porcelain sign on steel Goodyear Tires sign, brought $500; and a “Span-O-Life Batteries – Guaranteed for the Life of Your Car” double-sided dealer sign, measuring 3 feet by 3 feet, sold for $500.

All quoted prices include a 10 percent buyers premium.

Although the quality and quantity of advertising signs and gas pumps were impressive, it was only a small portion of the Super Sale.

Also selling was a sleek black 1955 Ford Thunderbird with a 292-cubic-inch engine and 3-speed overdrive transmission. This “pampered beauty,” with an odometer reading of 2,000 miles – said to be on it when the engine was “worked on” about 10 years ago – started and sounded great, according to the auctioneer who sold it for $20,900. The car, a hard and soft-top convertible, came with a new soft-top and cover and parts.

A 1971 Chevrolet Malibu 2-door with a 307-cubic-inch engine, with original paint and no rust, sold for $16,500. The car, formerly owned by a Texan, had never been in snow, according to Helmer.

Adding yet more variety to the Super Auction was several antique and collectible toys offered by Joseph Saine Toy Soldiers of Rossford, Ohio. Bidding was again keen, with a Reddy Kilowatt Japanese advertising nodder selling for $260; a dealers’ promotional model of a 1967 Dodge Charger Fastback selling for $325; and a great old cast-iron Champion motorcycle and sidecar bringing $400.

Also selling well among the vintage toys was an Arcade cast-iron Terraplane, measuring about 4-inches long, $330; and a pressed-steel Wyandotte LaSalle car and camper sold for $425.

The next Super Auction will be in February.

Contact: (734) 368-1733