The Contents of a Fire Fighting Museum, a Private Arcade Machines Collection and Nearly 150 Rare Toys and Banks will be Sold April 9-11, 2010

The three-day weekend event will be held in Ann Arbor, Mich., by Showtime Auction Services.

(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) – Nearly 2,000 lots from several major collections in an array of categories – firefighting items from the Granite Handtub Museum in Newmarket, N.H., a private arcade machine collection, around 150 rare toys and banks and more – will be sold Apr. 9-11 by Showtime Auction Services, at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The three-day Spring “Live” Auction will also feature advertising, country store, barber shop, coin-op, gambling, general store, soda fountain, Coca-Cola, breweriana, petroliana, automobilia, Western Americana, tobacciana, saloon, brothel, die cabinets, showcases, store fixtures, Black Americana, salesman’s samples, Native American items, trade signs and more.

The first day of the sale (Fri., Apr. 9, noon to 5 p.m.) will be for live attendees only (no phone, absentee or Internet bidding). The Saturday and Sunday sessions (Apr. 10, 9-6, and Apr. 11, 9-4) will have live bidding plus phone, absentee and Internet bidding (via A preview will be held Friday, Apr. 9, from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, with a free hot breakfast from 8-10.

Mermaid Arcade Game and Cigar Store IndianThe top lot of the auction is expected to be a vintage pistol-operated Mermaid “The War Game” coin-op arcade machine (est. $200,000-$300,000). The exceedingly rare coin-op arcade machine, one of only twelve made and one of only ten known to exist today, was made by the Matheson Manufacturing Company. It was repainted and is in overall good working condition. Seventy other coin-op machines, most of them rare arcades, will also be offered at the auction.

Also expected to do well is a beautifully restored Hunneman hand-drawn hand tub/fire pump (est. $30,000-$40,000), one of three handtubs in the auction and one of over 200 fire fighting items from the Granite Handtub Museum. Built in 1854 (Button #364), the handtub originated in Cleremont, N.H., and was purchased in 1860 by the town of New Ipswich, N.H.

Another item from the museum is a decorated lamp for the button handtub used by a veteran firemen’s organization called the Red Jackets (est. $5,000-$10,000). In 1892, the tub was entered into a pumpers’ competition at a local muster in Massachusetts and won first prize. The piece was considered the most decorated tub of its time and still resides in Massachusetts.

Vintage toys will include three examples by Buddy L: an extremely rare toy bus that was once ridden by children who would steer it from side wheels (est. $8,000-$12,000); a red baby toy truck in excellent condition with the original tag (est. $6,000-$10,000); and an outdoor toy train with nine cars, complete with five pieces of track and connectors (est. $12,000-$20,000).

Another one of the 150 or so rare toys to be sold is a pre-war Japanese early tin toy race car, very rare and in very good condition (est. $2,000-$4,000). From a completely different category, but not to be overlooked, is a handsome Cigar Store Indian, possibly a Samuel Robb, but with no signature (est. $25,000-$40,000). The piece’s later re-paint has an emerging patina.

Over 20 rare mechanical banks will be offered, to include a cast-iron Boy Scout Camp example in excellent original condition, with 90 percent of the original paint still intact (est. $1,000-$3,500); and a rare circus bank (est. 2,500-$5,000). Also sold will be an extremely rare Pepsi-Cola can in the shape of a spool of thread, the only one Showtime has ever seen and in excellent condition (est. $2,000-$3,000).

A dozen automatons will include a one-cent, coin-operated gambling automaton, featuring a monkey who waves a magic wand, causing a dice table to drop down and then pop up quickly again, sending the dice rolling (est. $10,000-$20,000); and a store window automaton depicting a clock works gentleman. Wind him up and his head moves back and forth (est. $4,000-$8,000).

Additional top lots include a Studebaker & Rockne Authorized Service & Parts two-sided porcelain sign, the only one known and in very good condition (est. $7,500-$10,000; Note: Rockne cars were only manufactured for two years); an 1891 calendar for The Great Rock Island Route Train Company, with full pad (est. $3,000-$6,000); and a Mosley folding bath tub, the same type used in brothels in the 1800s (est. $8,000-$10,000).

Mr. Eckles, owner of Showtime Auction Services, said of the auction, “This is the most diversified selection of merchandise with high quality and rare items in over 60 antique collector categories represented.”

The preferred hotel for the auction is The Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor, Mich., located about 25 minutes from the Detroit airport (DTW). The phone number for reservations is (734) 769-2500. Room-hopping is encouraged. A flyer providing more auction info has been printed. A full-color catalog is also available, at a cost of $35 (to order one, call Carol, at 316-721-5236).

The Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds (the venue of choice for Showtime Auction Services over the past several years) is located at 5055 Ann Arbor-Saline Road in Ann Arbor. Showtime conducts only four auctions a year (two live, two absentee), and they need to be held somewhere commensurate with the importance of the auction. The Apr. 9-11 sale is important.

Showtime’s next auction after this one will be a Summer Absentee, Phone and Internet Auction, scheduled to end July 9. Featured will be a fabulous collection of arcade, firefighting memorabilia, advertising, country store, barber shop, gambling, coin-op, toys, banks, general store, Coca-Cola, breweriana, petroliana, automobilia, Western Americana and much more.

After that, Showtime will hold a big Fall “Live” Auction Oct. 1-3 (also at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor). Then, a Winter 2011 Absentee Auction will end Jan. 15, 2011. Flyers will be mailed out mid-December and an online catalog will be posted about Jan. 1. The categories for these sales will be similar to those of the Apr. 9-11 and Jul. 9 auction events.

Showtime Auction Services is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To consign an item, an estate or a collection, you may call Michael Eckles at (951) 453-2415. His e-mail address is To learn more about Showtime Auction Services and the Apr. 9-11 auction, please log on to Updates are posted often.

Some current live auctions for Mechanical Banks on eBay:

Some current live auctions for Toy Banks on eBay:

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