Written by Barbara Toombs
The brilliant and glowing signage known as “neon” made its debut in the 1920s. The glass-sealed tubes twisted to form letters and shapes – filled with neon gas lit with electricity – mesmerized young and old alike.
That’s still the case to this day, as can easily be experienced by walking into the Barrett-Jackson auction arena on any given morning of an event, where the daily Automobilia Auction takes place before the gleaming collector cars have their turn on the stage. Once called “liquid fire,” neon signs attract the human eye with an electric allure that few other forms of advertising can command.
Neon porcelain signs continue to be the hottest category in automobilia today. At the 2020 Scottsdale Automobilia Auction last January, many records were set and broken, especially in the brightly colored world of neon: eight of the top 10 sellers were neon porcelain signs from the Mike Money Lifetime Collection. The results were indeed impressive. A stunning 1951 Mobil Oil left-facing Pegasus (pictured above), the neon animated to simulate the mythical horse’s flying wings, brought in a remarkable $80,000. An original Chevrolet OK Used Cars dealership marquee sign from the 1940s-50s sold for $55,200, while a 1950s Republic Oil Company sign went to its new home for $51,750 and an impressive GMC Trucks marquee sign from the 1940s scored a $46,000 sale.
More than 20 brilliantly blinking, enticing neon signs will also be among the star pieces offered during the 2020 Fall Automobilia Auction, including a rare and all-original 1940s Dodge Automobiles marquee sign, a striking Chevrolet Super Service sign from the 1930s-40s and an always-popular Mobil Oil Pegasus neon – this one a wonderful left-facing example from the 1950s.
In all, more than 350 authentic pieces of automotive memorabilia will be offered – all with No Reserve – during the Fall Auction, many of them hailing from the Cedarmore Collection, a Midwest collection acquired over a 40-year time frame.
There also will be several hundred cardboard, tin and porcelain signs pertaining to gas and oil, auto dealerships and soda. One of the highlights is a 1920s Francisco Auto Heaters tin lithograph sign with a period Packard depicted. Also included in the offering is a desirable 6-foot-tall Coca-Cola policeman school zone sign from the 1950s. “These pieces are highly coveted,” remarked Barrett-Jackson Automobilia Director Rory Brinkman. “We offered one at the 2017 Northeast Auction that brought in $11,500.”
Rounding out the offering at the 2020 Fall Auction will be an impressive selection of original, beautifully resorted gas pumps, which continue to be in high demand with car collectors. Over 20 examples will grace the Barrett-Jackson automobilia stage, highlighted by a magnificent 1955 Texaco Oil service station fuel island featuring two original Bowser Model #955 gas pumps. “It’s been professionally restored to the highest possible level,” noted Brinkman. “It would be a marquee piece for any car display or collection.”
The Automobilia Auction (view the docket HERE, with more items added daily) will begin at 9 a.m. each morning of the 2020 Fall Auction, October 22-24 at WestWorld of Scottsdale. Bidders registered to bid on vehicles are automatically eligible to bid on automobilia (click HERE for bidder registration options). To register to bid on automobilia only, email firstname.lastname@example.org.