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Collectors Drive Bumper Sales at Billy’s Service Station Memorabilia Auction

Collectors were out in force on Sunday April 20 at Billy’s Service Station near Brisbane, where Shannons knocked down 160 lots of garage memorabilia – with some setting Australian record prices.

service-station.jpgThe clear-out auction of rare neon and enamel signs, Australian and American petrol bowsers and many other garage items assembled by Queensland enthusiast Greg Kowplos over the past 30 years, attracted an enthusiastic crowd of more than 400 people to his home at Rochedale, where all 160 lots sold for a total of around $350,000.

The biggest interest from the many collectors present was in the collections of rare petrol bowsers, with the record prices achieved for a number of lots reflecting their rarity and competitive bidding.

The top pump price of $25,000 was shared by two American pumps – a circa 1937 Wayne Model 60 ‘clock face’ Gilmore in Red Lion Gas livery and an imposing, black 2.3 metre tall circa 1931 American Model 277 in Johnson Gasoline livery, with spirited floor bidding for both amongst six or seven collectors.

Other notable petrol bowser sales included a shapely 3.0 metre tall circa 1924 Fry Ten Gallon Model 117 in Red Crown Gasoline livery – best known as the ‘Mae West’ pump, because of its voluptuous styling – sold for $22,000, while a 1928 Fry Ten Gallon visible Model 73 in Polly Gasoline livery went for $19,000.

Amongst the Australian petrol bowsers, a 1930 ERL Simplex Six 5-Gallon visible model in Dixie Gasoline livery sold for $9,250, while a 1950 Gilbarco CM in Phillips 66 livery went for $7,000.
Neon garage signs were also in very high demand, with the top auction price of $6,500 being paid for a 1.6 metre diameter ‘Billy’s Service Station’ sign.

Other notable neon sales included $6,200 for a two metre Poly Gas ‘bird’ sign, followed by a 2.4 metre. Sunoco Blue Motor Fuel sign ($5.750) and a 2.2 metre ‘Budnick Wheels’ neon ($5,600).
Of the many enamel signs, standout sales were the $4,700 paid for a 1.6 metre 1950s Mobil Pegasus die cut sign and $2,900 for a 1.83 metre 1930s Castrol Wakefield ‘Bowtie’ sign.
An eight- metre wide Holden Racing Team sign autographed by both Mark Skaife and Craig Lowndes brought $2,600, while a Dick Johnson Racing V8 Supercar front mudguard signed by Dick Johnson sold for $425.

Amongst the auction’s more unusual items, a comprehensive American Lionel train set with numerous engines, rolling stock, buildings and accessories sold for $14,000, while an original 1978 Brea cast iron Californian fire hydrant went for $4,000.

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