|By Carole Deutsch
PITTSFIELD, Mass. – A collection of more than 100 fine antique clocks sold with 275 lots of stand-out advertising signs and country store items at Fontaine’s Auction Gallery on Aug. 25. “It was a classic performance that sold as expected,” said John Fontaine. “The signs were especially well received and we had many first-time customers. We offered a nice and unusual selection and people appreciated it.”
John Fontaine has been in the business for 45 years and enjoys what he does so much he often remarks that he feels he has never worked a day in his life. When asked for his take on the state of the present day market, he commented, “There is an uptake in the market. More merchandise is coming out. I’ve seen so much interesting material that I have never seen before. Buyers are a little more discriminating and are looking for rare pieces and good condition. This sale sold as it should with high-end items selling strong and medium range articles bringing in conservative prices, and then there were those surprise lots that went well beyond anyone’s expectation. It’s what makes our business exciting, with never a dull moment, but you have to be ready to act on instinct, as well as knowledge, when taking in a sale, and that comes with years of being in the business.”
Topping the clock segment of the auction was an extremely rare Baird Coca-Cola advertising clock with an original 12 inch paper dial signed “Seth Thomas Movement, Edw. P. Baird & Co., Plattsburg, NY.” It had black Roman hour numerals and large open moon hands. The brass 8-day spring driven time only movement was signed, “Made by Seth Thomas for Edw. P. Baird & Co., NY & Montreal.” The unusual case had doors made from wood with the relief papier-mâché advertising applied within the door frame. The advertising read, “Coca-Cola, The Ideal Brain Tonic - Delightful Summer and Winter Beverage, Specific for Headache.” There were rosettes at the shoulder which displayed the price as 5 cents. The catalog had in-depth informative descriptions and noted, “Baird manufactured multiple Coca-Cola advertising clocks and this clock may be the earliest known example and possibly the earliest known Coca-Cola advertising clock in the company’s history, making it extremely rare and important, circa 1889.” The 30.5 inch high clock was overall in excellent original condition, had the original setup instructions paper label inside, and sold for $18,150.
Another rare Baird self-advertising calendar wall clock, also with an all original 12 inch paper dial and signed “Seth Thomas Movement,” had black Roman hour numerals, spade hands, and a 31 date calendar with a red sweep calendar hand. The original 8-day brass time and calendar spring driven movement was signed, “Made by Seth Thomas for Edw. P. Baird & Co., Plattsburg, NY.” It had a rustic figure-eight style wood and papier-mâché case with relief lettering around the door and lower door which read, “Advertising Clocks For Clothiers, Etc. - Baird Clock Co., Write For Price Lists, Plattsburgh, NY.” The circa 1891 clock, measuring 30.5 inches tall, was in excellent original condition, had the original setup instructions label inside, and brought $15,730.
Advertising signs offered a set of four hand-painted on tin Ithaca Sign Works clothier signs. All advertised “C.E. Haugen Clothing & Shoes, Spring Valley.” Each had a unique design that depicted a portrait of a man wearing the product, and showed the topics of “Auto Clothing,” “Business Suits,”
“Raincoats” and “Latest Styles.” They were all cataloged as in very good condition with almost no paint loss, surface rust, or bending. Each measured 48 ¾ inches high by 12 inches wide. The fetching foursome realized a strong $11,193, against a high estimate of $3,500.
An energetic Dupont De Nemours advertising sign, that depicted a rousing portrayal of a frontiersman riding on horseback at a full gallop as he aimed a rifle to shoot a running buffalo, had an arched banner that read “E.I. DuPont De Nemours * Co.” and “Gunpowder, Wilmington, Del.” The hand painted on tin advertising sign, by Wells & Hope Co., Pat. Metallic Advertising Signs of Philadelphia was 17 inches high by 23 inches wide and sold for $4,538.
A 5-cent coin-op floor model Mutoscope viewing machine, made with a cast-iron floor standing case that was heavily ornamented with large seashell panels, turned corner columns, and rampant lions, realized $7,260. The banner at the top in a nouveau style frame had a card reel displaying a playful scene of a woman undressing to her underwear while a man “sneaks a peak.” The 82 inch high piece was marked, “American Mutoscope Co. New York, USA,” serial number L5651, had the keys, and was in working condition.
A large size Enterprise floor model, No. 16, coffee grinder was made of cast iron and had the original paint and stenciling, as well as the original eagle finial and tin pan below. It had 30.5 inch diameter wheels and was signed, “Enterprise Mfg. Co., Philadelphia, USA”, Pat. July 12, 1898. It stood 64 inches tall, was in excellent condition, and sold well beyond the mark of $3,000 to $5,000 when it commanded an impressive $12,650.
From a 40-year old collection of 100 ship models came a large Italian sterling silver sailing ship that had five masts and all sails open. It was finely detailed and hallmarked “925” on one of the sails. The highly presentational piece was from the second half of the 20th century and bore an Italian hallmark with maker’s number “847” and initials for Firenze (Florence). It measured 19 inches high by 39 inches wide, weighed over 30 lbs., and sold for the handsome price of $7,563, sailing well past the high estimate of $2,500.
Prices include a 21 percent buyer’s premium.