A huge collection of motoring signs and automobilia numbering more than 400 individual pieces has sold at Mecum's West Memphis, Arkansas auction on 27-28 March. The highlight of the collection – and the sale – was a Weakley Equipment Co neon sign, which fetched a staggering $125,000.
The Walker Collection comprised hundreds of neon signs and double-sided porcelain advertisements and was the work of Vernon Walker’s life-long crusade to 'save the signs', which he began more than 50 years ago.
"Well, being a car guy, I thought owning some of the dealership signs would be something fun to get into," said Walker. "And once I got into that, I quickly found that the future of these signs was not shaping up to be such a pretty picture."
His passion for preservation intensified after discovering that fellow collectors were splitting the double-sided signs to double their profit. "They were destroying the history of these signs," he said. "When I realised what was going on, I just went crazy buying signs."
But all good things must come to an end: "I'm 74 years old and I've got to do something with them! It's certainly not that I don't enjoy them anymore. It was just that I figured they should be hung up so people can enjoy them."
“This was a great event,” said C&SC’s Sharon Spurlin. “I can’t imagine there will ever be an opportunity to see this many two-sided neon signs on display, lit and in working condition in my lifetime. It was a privilege to be there, and wonderful that Vernon Walker had the foresight to save these beautiful works of art.”
A stunning Goodyear Tire sign made in 1924 was the oldest item in the collection, bringing in a cool $100,000.
It was followed by a spectacular Mobil Pegasus, which fetched $72,500.
A rare Dodge Brothers sign featuring milk glass letters also proved popular, selling for $65,000.
Next came a brace of Ford hoardings – one sold for $61,000, while the second made $47,500.
Chevrolet sign ($6000)
Dixie Gasoline sign ($40,000)
Dog n Suds sign ($33,500)
Nash sign ($5000)
Ford script ($20,000), Lincoln Mercury Service ($19,000), Packard Service ($26,000), Firestone ($8500)
Packard sign ($23,500)
Studebaker sign ($5000)