Successful Rich Penn auction despite weather

The Spring Rich Penn Auction Event seemed like it was ‘Spring’ only in name. The April 28 auction in Waterloo, Iowa had a special gift from Mother Nature. Saturday's session was given four inches of snow. But those in attendance weren't hampered by a bit of snow. Cabin fever quickly turned to bidding fever!

The auction kicked off at 10 a.m. on Saturday with more than 200 lots of non-cataloged items, for just in-house bidders. Auctioneers Fred Van Metre and Tom Millie sailed through those by noon. When the first cataloged lot came to the podium, the house bidders were joined by an additional internet following from 37 countries across the globe. When Sunday's session wrapped up, those bidders captured nearly half the auction. According to Penn, “We continue to see increased participation from our online clients. But when it comes to some of the more serious items, many bidders want to be here and see it and examine it for themselves.”

The Saturday session included Salesman Sample Stoves, Country Store and Soda Fountain Items and Pressed Steel Toys. The top two lots for that session were both Salesman Sample Stoves. A Home Comfort No. CB, in Exc. Restored condition sold at $4,000. A Quick Meal No. 407-16, also beautifully restored, sold at $3,500. Two other stoves that warmed up bidders included the c.1900 Karr Range Co. w/blue & white enameled finish. In Exc. orig. condition it sold at $2,750. The c.1900 Great Majestic Junior, in Exc. Restored condition sold at $2,250.

Pressed steel toys showed strong prices too. According to Penn, “In our last two auctions we've seen the interest start to come back with good toys. Pressed steel is definitely showing strength again, especially Buddy “L.” The c.1927 Buddy "L" Flivver One-Ton Express with original paint and transfers was a great example. It sold at $3,250. Close behind was an unusual and quite rare Buddy "L" Railroad Double Trestle Bridge. It came with 10 pieces of track. Each piece of the track was stamped with the Buddy “L” name.” When all the bids had rolled across the sold at $3,200. All prices are hammer prices and do not include the buyer's premium.

Rich Penn Auctions has a strong tradition for offering a great selection of Country Store artifacts. This auction was no exception. And signs are always a favorite. A colorful self-framed metal sign for Sunbeam Rolls, picturing Little Miss Sunbeam, sold at $2,750. Bidders were charmed by the graphics and the Near-Mint condition. A 39” dia. Frostie Root Beer die cut metal bottle cap sign, with fun Frostie graphics, sold at $1,600. More fun graphics came on the always popular Grape-Nuts sign. This self-framed litho on tin featured a pretty little girl on the way to school with her St. Bernard. With strong color and overall scratching it dished up a top bid of $1,000.

Among the other items doing well on Saturday was the Triple XXX Root Beer keg-shaped syrup dispenser. In Exc. condition, it pumped up a top bid of $1,500. A c.1909 National Cash Register, Model No. 327, in Exc. orig. cond., rang up a high bid of $1,300. And coffee grinders are still grinding out bidder interest. A cast iron counter style, Enterprise No. 8, w/orig. orange paint, decals and Eagle finial, sold at $1,100.

The Sunday session took on a totally different flavor. It was about things that were BIG, made music, took coins or sparkled and glittered!!

Coin-operated machines showed great bidder interest as well. The top lot on Sunday was a classic c.1941 Paul Fuller designed Wurlitzer model 750E Jukebox. Fuller was single-handedly responsible for designing the 1938-1949 line of Wurlitzer 24 selection machines. His designs set the stage for other manufacturers to follow. None did it quite as well as Fuller. As a result, his machines are among the most desirable with today's collectors. This machine, largely complete but with a few minor issues, still played up to a $5,500 high bid. Another jukebox from Wurlitzer's rival Rockola was their circa 1947 Model 1426. A great Art Deco design, this 20 selection machine was in Good orig. condition, but needed amp work. It still hit a high note at $1,800.

From pumping out great tunes to pumping gas, bidder interest was strong! And the gas pumps all had High Octane bidders in the Sunday session. The Eric Motor Systems clock face pump had an older restoration. It looked plenty good enough to pump out a $3,500 bid. The American Oil Pump & Tank Co. visible pump, c.1920s brought $1,900 as did the Wayne clock face Model 861. A Red Crown Gasoline bulk drum from Standard Oil Indiana, with great graphics, brought $1,700.

In the days of the classic jukeboxes it wasn't unusual to see a slot machine or two in the same establishment. Any machines that took in extra money helped the merchant make a bit more profit. So coin-operated machines were in every little town and big city in America. You could buy a song for a nickel and the same for a pack of gum. Or buy a pencil, a soda or take a chance on winning some money! Many of those coin-operated machines survived. A nice group of them found their way to the Rich Penn Auction.

The top selling slot machine was an unusual Watling Rol-A-Top with a Diamond Front jackpot. This 25 cent machine from the 1930s took in a $2,750 winning bid. A rare $1 play Jennings light-up Club Chief, in a console cabinet, hit the jackpot at $2,300.

Decorative items, which have been a softer side of the market in recent years, seemed to be making a modest comeback in prices. A colorful signed Handel leaded glass lamp had strong internet and in-house bidding. It ended up selling at $$1,800. Another stained and leaded glass table lamp, from Duffner & Kimberly, settled in at a winning bid of $1,100. A c.1900 disc German music box, with 9 discs played beautifully. As a result...several in-house bidders played it up to the winning $1,500 bid.

If you wanted something that glittered & sparkled and have it be something you could wear, a nice 1.59K diamond ring was offered. It went to a lucky winner with a size 7 ring finger for $1,300.

According to Penn, “The wide variety of lots kept bidders interested throughout both sessions and many commented about that fun variety. We plan to continue that”. Penn's November auction, also scheduled at the Sullivan Bros. Convention Center in Waterloo on Nov. 1-3 reflects another great variety. That November auction includes a Coca-Cola collection, Coin-operated machines, Gas & Oils signs, Automotive, Country Store, Toys, Western & Cowboy items as well as quality Decorative pieces. For more information or to consign, call 319-291-6688 or go to Penn's web site:

For additional information contact Rich Penn Auctions at 319-291-6688 between 9 AM & 5 PM CST, M-F.