|By Eric C. Rodenberg
LEONARD, Mich. – “Nothing beats an old-fashioned country auction,” says Auctioneer Brian Rowley, who after 28 years in the industry, has not lost his enthusiasm.
And Rowley had much to be enthused about on Oct. 20, looking at the bidders filing into “The Village Museum,” the unofficial name for the Tom and Nancy Spencer home from Leonard.
The 82-year-old Spencer has been a mechanic all his life — and a collector since 1978. “I was just buying anything old. I always looked for odd stuff. Doing that for so many years, I wound up with all kinds of stuff.”
He explained that he and his wife were doing some serious downsizing and moving to another “easier to keep” property. “I didn’t really want to sell a lot my things, but I had to … had no choice.”
Rowley — from nearby Attica, Mich., — sold more than 1,100 lots; with three rings going throughout most of the sale.
The auction encompassed everything from Ford Model T windshields and frames to antique motorcycles and parts. Also, at auction were hit-and-miss engines, vintage bicycles and petroleum advertising pieces and pumps.
More than 100 small engines went up for auction, in addition to automotive tools, old farm hand-tools and primitive pieces.
The auction drew a good crowd of 380 registered bidders, according to Rowley. And, from all appearances, it looked like they came to bid.
Top sellers of the day were three vintage Ford pick-up trucks: A 1981 Ford step-side pick-up brought $6,300, the top bid of the day; a 1984 Ford F-150 pick-up sold for $4,100; and a 1963 F-100 sold for an even $4,000.
Rowley’s Auction Service does not charge buyer’s premiums for their onsite auctions.
Also bringing an even $4,000 was an antique Frye 5-gallon gas pump. “They say the overall market is down,” Rowley says, “but not for the petroleum collectors. That stuff has taken off this year.”
Backing up Rowley’s statement was a Tokheim 36B gas pump with a blue Sunoco globe which brought $2,200, while a circa 1916 Wayne hand-crank gas pump with a clock face sold for $650.
Bicycles have really soared in value, according to Rowley, who credited the Spencers with keeping the bikes in good condition. There were two Whizzer bicycles – one, black and the other, red – which each sold for $1,800. A Century black bike sold for $1,450, while a “bone-shaker” sold for $1,1,00.
A Schwinn Orange Krate bike brought a final bid of $1,350. “That Schwinn stuff has really picked up over the past 10 years. I always get bidders on bikes anymore.”
Also selling was a Century bike, entirely made of wood (except for the pedals) with a siren that sold for $1,450. A blue Rainbow bicycle sold for $700, while a Shelby Bicycle brought $525.
After years of riding and “tinkering” with motorcycles, the Turners had an alluring collection of older powered bikes. Chief among them was a 1956 Harley Davidson Tail Glide Hummer which sold $3,800. A curious piece, a 1938 Francis-Barnett motorcycle with an accompanying (unauthenticated) letter attesting the bike was brought new by “Davidson of Harley Davidson Family,” sold for $3,500.
The consigner also collected several smaller motorcycles, or scooters, which were popular with bidders. A 1965 Cushman Silver Eagle sold for $2,200; a red 1957 Simplex Scooter brought $2,100; and a 1951 yellow Cushman brought $1,900. A 1963 Simplex Compact Sportsman sold for $1,650; a yellow Cushman Trailster sold for $950 and a 1975 Indian 4-stroke moped brought $850.
And what good country auction would be without the sounds of antique and vintage hit-’n-miss engines popping off in the background? A Pontiac hit-’n-miss, with a pump and cart, sold for $850, while a Fuller & Johnson brought $375. A Briggs & Stratton power wheel engine also sold for $2,100.
Despite an initial lack of enthusiasm involved in “downsizing,” Spencer said he was delighted with the results. “I was really pleased with Brian Rowley and his crew,” Spencer said. “As for the prices, I think they did very good. As far as I’m concerned, we’re happy all the way around.”
Rowley Auction Services has several auctions coming up in future weeks, including estate sales in Marine City and Dryden, Mich. on Oct. 29 and Nov. 3.
Contact: (810) 724-4035