. November 30, 2011 . 0 Comments

The lens, just the fourth one known, was the top lot of the nearly 500 items that changed hands.

(RAYMOND, Ill.) – A Richfield Aviation Gasoline 15-inch single lens in a high-profile metal globe body, just the fourth such lens known and rated 9 out of 10 for condition, sold for $15,400 at an auction held Nov. 26 by Matthews Auctions, LLC, based in Nokomis, Ill. The sale was held at the gallery of Gavin Pope Auction, with whom Matthews Auctions often partners.

The lens, boasting a crisp airplane logo, showed a little rust, but that didn’t deter bidders who recognized the piece’s rarity and collectability. “Anything related to aviation or marine is automatically hot, because there are far fewer airports and marinas than there are gas stations,” said Dan Matthews of Matthews Auctions. “Plus, that lens was so rare it was bound to do well.”

The auction featured nearly 500 lots of mostly petroliana, automobilia, country store and farm advertising. It would have had even more had a truck carrying 15 neon signs to the sale not broken down en route. “That probably represented $30,000-$40,000 in lost revenue,” Matthews said with a laugh, “but we’ll offer them in another auction and I’m sure they’ll do just fine.”

Mr. Matthews added that gas and oil collectibles “still reign supreme” at his sales, which typically feature petroliana and a smattering of other categories. “Aviation signs are hot right now, and aviation items in general are turning into a nice little hobby for a lot of people. One area that seems to be soft is soda collectibles, although we did sell a lighted Pepsi sign for $600.”

Just shy of 100 people attended the auction live, while another 250 registered to bid online, through Proxibid. Internet sales represented a 50 percent sell-through, while phone and absentee bidding combined for 5 percent of sales. But the phone bidders were aggressive. In fact, the Richfield Aviation lens came down to a test of wills between two determined phone bidders.

Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 10 percent buyer’s premium.

The auction’s second top lot was a road sign, or historical marker (another rapidly rising star in the collecting world) for the Santa Fe Trail. The scarce, single-sided porcelain oval sign, measuring 16 inches by 24 inches and featuring a covered wagon scene for graphics, topped out at $3,520. It was rated 9.5 out of 10, in super condition, and was marked “Irving Shope 1948.”

Two other lots also topped the $2,000 mark. One was a Shell “Aviation Service” 5 inch by 16 inch porcelain pump plate sign, rated 8 due to a minor chip. It hammered for $2,530. The other was a Power-Lube Motor Oil “Smooth as the Tread of a Tiger” double-sided porcelain sign, measuring 20 inches by 30 inches, rated 8.5 on one side and 7.5 on the other. It hit $2,200.

A pair of Gulf Marine White “Special For Marine Use” 13.5-inch lenses on a glass globe body, with both lenses caulked in and rated 9, coasted to $1,980; a Shell double-sided porcelain clam-shaped sign, 48 inches by 48 inches, rated 9 and 8.75, brought $1,760; and a Signal Gasoline porcelain pump plate sign, 12 inches in diameter, rated 9, changed hands for $1,430.

A Quaker State “A Quaker State Product” porcelain pump plate sign, measuring 10 inches by 12 inches and rated 9, garnered $1,210; a Veedol Motor Oil-Greases double-sided porcelain curb sign with the original cast iron base, 24 inches and rated 8.9, rose to $1,210; and a “We Use Genuine Chevrolet Parts” tin die-cut flange sign with bow-tie graphic brought $1,100.

A Target Regular porcelain pump plate sign, 11 inches by 11 inches and rated 9, achieved $825; an H-C Sinclair Gasoline porcelain pump plate sign, 14 inches by 14 inches and rated 9, breezed to $1,155; an Atlantic Refining Company fried egg-style porcelain pump plate, rated 9, made $633; and a Pepsi-Cola “Hits the Spot Whether It’s Cold or Hot” tin thermometer hit $550.

A Real Ice Cream double-sided tin sign with a farm scene at the bottom, dated 1964 and rated 8.5, demanded $468; a Mecca Cigarettes “Perfect Satisfaction” framed paper poster with lady graphics, marked Earl Christy, brought $330; a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 light saddle metallic promotional toy car, new in the box, 8 inches long, rated 9.5, went for $275; and a Harley Davidson Motorcycles “Genuine Oil” one-quart round metal can, rated 9, made $275.

Matthews Auctions, LLC has three Internet, phone and absentee bid only (no live audience) auctions slated for Dec. 7, Jan. 4 and Feb. 1. All three will be dedicated mainly to petroliana and advertising. Then, on Friday, March 2, at 12 noon (CST), the firm will hold its annual Spring Peotone Petroliana Auction (featuring live and Internet bidding) in Peotone, Ill.

Matthews Auctions, LLC is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign a single item, an estate or an entire collection, you may call them toll-free at (877) 968-8880, or you can send an e-mail directly to Dan Matthews at

Mr. Matthews recently completed writing a book about petroliana, titled The Fine Art of Collecting and Displaying Petroliana. For information on how to order a copy, please log on to the Matthews Auctions, LLC website, at

For more information about Matthews Auctions, LLC and its upcoming sales, log on to

Category: Auction News

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