Rare Cigar Tip Cutter realizes $60,500

Showtime Auction Services held an auction last month at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor, Michigan on April 20-22, 2007:


(Ann Arbor, Mich.) – An extremely rare cigar-tip cutter and trade stimulator sold for $60,500 at a sale of items from the Jim Cate Collection held April 20-22 by Showtime Auction Services, based in Chino, Calif. The auction was held at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor, Mich. Prices quoted include a buyer’s premium (10% for cash or check, 13% for a credit card).

“The sale was a huge success and everybody had a great time,” said Mike Eckles of Showtime Auction Services. “Advertising signs especially did very well, with many examples hammering for over $10,000.” Mr. Eckles said more than 1,700 lots changed hands over the course of the three days. Total sales grossed $2.1 million. Approximately 450 people were in attendance.

Jim Cate is an avid collector and long-time resident of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. His lifetime accumulation of country store and advertising items comprised a museum inside The Penny Candy Store in Coeur d’Alene. “The store was in an old bank building,” Mr. Eckles pointed out. “Two of the back walls were roped off and set up like a country store, to showcase Mr. Cate’s massive collections.”

Additional consignments were secured that complemented Mr. Cate’s offerings. “The things Jim didn’t collect much – like coin-op, trays, toys and banks – were what we sought out, from a variety of quality estates and other sources,” Mr. Eckles said. “Everything was high-end merchandise, and almost all of it was fresh to the market. Collectors had a field day. Three field days, to be exact.”

The cigar-tip cutter/trade stimulator is regarded as “the mother of all cigar-tip cutters.” It was featured in the Marshall Fey Slot Machine Book. When the user places his cigar tip into the top of the head to be clipped, a wheel is set into motion. The piece is one of only three known to exist, and was made more desirable by having the original marquee and dial. It was in overall fine working order.

Another item also sold for $60,500, to share top lot honors. It was an oak Regina musical china cabinet, one of only 13 made. Of those, only seven are accounted for, and of those, only two were made in quarter-sawn oak (as was the example sold). The bow front piece with stainless glass panel was in excellent, all-original condition and even included a set of discs for the 15″ Regina movement.

In other highlights:

– A salesman’s sample Hires Root Beer Dispenser, one of only two known, realized $55,000. The fact that it had no carrying case and exhibited some chips didn’t deter bidders who recognized it as a must-have for serious soda fountain collectors. The marble piece, in overall fine condition, stood just 12″ tall (the actual dispensers were 30″). The other known example sold for $70,000 twelve years ago.

– A Sleepy Eye flour tin embossed sign, in period wood frame, garnered a respectable $44,000. In overall excellent condition and measuring about 20″ x 24″, it had just a few minor scratches. Also, a rare Kelly Tires tin advertising sign, made in the 1920s, realized $31,200. The two-sided sign, measuring 24″ in diameter, was in near-mint condition and even had the original bracket.

– A Howard/Mills Uncle Sam grip tester, inviting customers to shake hands with Uncle Sam for a penny, hit $26,400. The cast-iron piece, a must-have for the dedicated arcade collector, featured a bust of Uncle Sam and a paper dial that registered the grasp strength of the user. It was perched on a nice oak stand, with a cast-iron base. The early 1900s machine had been professionally restored.

– An extremely rare Hood Tire Dealer two-sided die cut tin sign, measuring 11-1/2″ x 35″ and in excellent condition save for some minor rubs, soared to $24,000. Also, a Coca-Cola self-framed tin sign, dated 1905, went for $21,600. Anything from Coke’s early days is prized by collectors. This piece, in outstanding condition, featured a rendering of Lillian Nordice, a popular actress of the day.

– An M.K. Goetz Brewing Company self-framed tin sign, titled “Jerry’s Smile” and made in 1903 in St. Joseph, Mo., rose to $14,300. The 22-1/2″ x 28-1/2″ example showed only minor paint loss and scratches. Also, a Cream of Kentucky tin serving tray, made by the I. Trager Company of Cincinnati and one of the most desirable nude trays known, changed hands for a respectable $8,800.

– Also selling for $8,800 was a rare Shogun Mixture tobacco pocket tin. The piece, an honorable addition to even the most advanced collection, was made in 1910 by the Heeken Can Company. It had factory information on the bottom and a red lid. It was small, at just 3″ x 4-1/2″. Also, a baby rocker cradle bed sparked lively bidder activity before finally gaveling for $6,050.

A Curtis Hawk pedal car airplane, made by American National and all original, measuring 49″ long, achieved $12,100. Also, a Fish Brothers salesman’s sample farm wagon, an exact model of the full-size farm wagon with shaved spoke wheels and a spring-supported seat, rolled away for $8,250. Made in Clinton, Iowa, the wonderful piece sported good paint, decals and pin-striping (40″ in length).

Showtime Auction Service’s next big sale will be held September 28-30, also at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor, Michaigan. Headlining the weekend event will be the Jim Main Collection. Mr. Main, now 94 years old and living in Yucaipa, Calif., collected rare advertising signs for over 50 years.

The auction will also feature a spectacular collection of DeLaval Cream Separator advertising signs, calendars and memorabilia; an equally impressive collection of padlocks and handcuffs; and one of the rarest collections of cash registers ever offered at auction, with several one-of-a-kinds. Also featured will be items from additional categories, such as drug store; general store; country store; soda fountain; veterinarian; barber shop; gambling; coin-op; slot machines; furniture; toys; banks; tins; fixtures; showcases; lighting; and more.

To learn more about Showtime Auction Services, you may log on to www.showtimeauctions.com. The firm is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To consign an item, estate or collection, you may call Mike Eckles at (951) 453-2415. His e-mail address is MikEckles@aol.com.

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