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Old Gas Signs Bring Good Prices At Auction
No one likes the high price of gas but collectors don’t seem to mind spending money for old gas signs. At a recent auction a Penn-Empire Gasoline porcelain sign sold for $6,875. A Sentinel Motor Oil sign sold for $6,325.
  While those are good prices, some really rare signs in good condition can go as high as $70,000 to $80,000, says Dan Matthews, owner of Matthews auctions, which specializes in anything associated with gas stations and car dealerships.
  The former farmer turned auctioneer found his niche in 2007 when he opened his own auction business in Nokomis, Ill. Besides appealing to his rural background, he appreciated that average items sell for $500 to $700. Sales were stagnant during the economic downturn but are steadily on the upturn, thanks in part to television shows focused on buying and selling antiques and collectables.
  Like other collectables, sign prices are determined by condition, rarity, graphics and size.
  “Collectors like 30-in. signs or less. It lets them have more small signs on their walls,” Matthews explains.
  Signs from small gas stations that didn’t last long often bring in the most money. A Harbor Petroleum Products sign recently sold for $55,000. A Musgo sign sold for $20,000 because the Musgo company of Muskegon, Mich., was only in business a short time.
  Matthews Auctions holds about five petroleum and auto-related petroliana/automobilia auctions a year in Illinois, Ohio, Iowa and California. Matthews also holds several specialty auctions a year and offers internet bidding for all offsite buyers.
  Matthews receives an average of five calls a day from people asking about the value of signs. When supplied with a photo and description of condition, Matthews is able to supply potential sellers with good “auction estimates”.
  Many old gas station signs were used to patch holes in barns, as Matthews admits his father used to do. That means the signs are often in rough condition because of nail holes or exposure to the elements. Surprisingly, they can still be worth several hundred dollars or more depending on their rarity. Matthews welcomes all inquiries.
  Besides petroleum signs, Matthews Auctions also sells many tractor and farm related signs. These signs sell very well, and rare signs in good condition have brought up to $40,000.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Matthews Auctions, LLC., 19186 Nokomis Rd., Nokomis, Ill. 62075 (ph 877 968-8880; www.matthewsauctions.com).

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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #4