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Gumball dispensers top sellers at Mosby’s
By Jim Rutledge

FREDERICK, Md. — Early 20th Century gumball dispensers drew international interest and topped estimates at the June 8 Mosby and Co. auction with a rare 1915 penny gum dispenser falling to the hammer at four times its pre-sale estimate.

“I knew the gum machines would do well but they performed above estimates across the board which was better than I expected,” said Mosby owner Keith Spurgeon. “It was hard to estimate some (dispensers) because they were pretty rare with no sales histories.”

Topping the 17 lots of gum machines, consigned by a California collector, was a 1915 Digesto gum dispenser with its original label of the manufacturer, the Blue Ridge Gum Co. of Susquehanna, Pa., on the face of the glass gumball bowl. The 10 1/4 inch high, 8 inch deep dispenser sold for $3,400. It’s pre-sale estimate was $900.

It was listed in very fine condition. Mosby said the gumball machine is listed as “rare” in Bill Enes’ price guide Silent Salesman Too: The Encyclopedia of Collecting Vending Machines.

A second vending dispenser, the “Little Nut” twin vendor machine, sold for $3,200, four times its high estimate of $800. Cited in very fine to excellent condition, Enes’ guide lists the machine also as a “rare” dispenser. It is made of cast iron with twin glass bowls dispensing gumballs for a penny and with a painted red top and base.

Another scarce vending dispenser was the 1909 Rex Manufacturing gumball machine, and sold for $2,200, twice its estimate of $1,000.

The six-hour auction recorded total sales of $245,000 including a 12-15 percent buyer’s premium. A total of 700 bidders participated in the auction, 559 bidders from 26 countries on the Internet site Live Auctioneers. Winning bidders were from Canada, Germany, France, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Japan and 35 U.S. states.

The top selling lots in the auction were a very rare boxed 1944 Buddy “L” golf game in very good to fine condition selling for $6,000, and a highly sought after 18 1/2 inch 1903 Hilda Clark Coca Cola serving tray, also falling at the hammer for $6,000, twice the estimate.

The Hilda Clark tray features the popular Coca Cola Clark icon in beautiful lithographed colors holding a glass of Coke, with a letter opener and letters, with Clark wearing a very early pre-Victorian style dress. The Coke tray was bought by a bidder’s agent for an unidentified Coca Cola collector.

The Buddy “L” golf game came in a slightly damaged 22-inch long, seven-inch tall box with the only known original box for the toy game. The game was un-played and came with the original score sheets. Mosby cites in its auction catalogue that the “toy was original sold at the Buddy “L” Archives Sale and is rarer than that of the elusive Buddy “L” schoolhouse toy. The golf game was bought by an unidentified telephone bidder.

Popular old-country store and vintage advertising, and gas and oil collectibles dealer Carter and Irene Davis, of Tasley, Va., outbid everyone to grab an extremely rare Pure Oil gas station radio and birdhouse. “This is going into our collections,” Mrs. Davis proudly told Antique Week. Mosby’s said the figural radio is shaped like a 1930’s style English cottage, similar to what Pure Oil gas stations looked during the period. The couple had winning bids on nearly two dozen lots, but it was the Pure Oil radio that they were not going to loose. They paid $6,325 including the buyer’s premium, just under the $7,000 high estimate. In very find to excellent condition, the 15-inch long, 14.25-inch tall tube radio was painted white with blue roof and came with all original parts and knobs. The radio does not work, but Mosby said, “likely, it needs new tubes.”

The birdhouse is figural cottage-shaped with its original tin enameled tin roof and is 10 inches long and 8.75 inches tall, painted in the same white and blue design as the radio.

The Davis’ operate the Studebaker’s General Store and websites and They also published the quarterly Antique Back Roads newsletter free to collectors and dealers featuring articles from collectors.

A Great Britain collector paid $4,000 for a very rare 4-foot-long Eureka Bugatti tourist model pedal car. The 49-inch long, 21.5-inch wide pedal car was made by the French company Eureka and is similar models produced during the “golden age,” of the 1930’s-1950’s. The car still has a working hand brake with a custom-made original style hood ornament. A lot of three l930-era Eureka Bugatti pedal cars sold at Christie’s, 14-years ago, in l999 for $3,400.

Spurgeon, Mosby’s owner, said the 700-lot auction was one of the most varied auctions he’s produced to date. Mosby’s averages four to five auctions a year. The June 8th auction showcased lots from five various collections, including one large collection of advertising items that Spurgeon said he picked up in California and personally trucked to Maryland.

Another highlight of the auction that drew international bidding auction were 21 lots of gas powered, tether racing cars and windup racers. Several of the models had winning high bids from $1,000 to $1,600 dollars, including the top seller, a Dooling Arrow tether racer with a Dooling ’61 motor in original racing condition. A phone bidder from Monaca won one of the gas cars.

A turn-of-the 20th Century tin advertising sign, a 23 inch by 17 inch sign for Thomas Inks and Mucilage, sold for $4,025 with buyer’s premium, twice the estimate. Spurgeon, who has sold hundreds of tin signs, says “This is the nicest one I’ve ever come across personally.” The sign is a colorful and profusely detailed Thomas sign beautifully lithographed depicting a black kitten tipping over a jar of red ink. The sign was produced by Tuscarora Advertising Company of Coshocton, OH, between 1887 to 1901. The sign was framed in a period wood frame.

Mosby’s next auction will be in the fall.

Contact: (301) 304-0352

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