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Double-sided Kelly Tires trade sign brings $13,200

Matthews Auctions' Spring Petroliana & Advertising Auction
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The top lot of the sale was this extremely rare Kelly Tires
double-sided tin sign ($13,200).

PEOTONE, Ill. – An extremely rare Kelly Tires double-sided tin trade sign, 24 inches in diameter and showing a lady waving while driving, sold for $13,200 at a Spring Petroliana & Advertising Auction held March 5 by Matthews Auctions, LLC. The auction was conducted on the day before the popular Chicagoland Petroliana & Advertising Show, held each spring in Peotone.

The Kelly Tires sign – the top earner in a sale that saw nearly 500 lots change hands – was rated 8.9 on a scale of one to ten for condition, both sides, and boasted super color and shine. The only flaws were a few very small paint chips. It was marked Stout Co., St. Louis. According to legend the lady on the sign was modeled after Shirley Temple, who never gave her authorization.

“This was our first big sale since November, so I didn’t know what to expect going in,” said Dan Matthews of Matthews Auctions, LLC, “but, considering the economy, it exceeded my expectations. Prices were strong, proving to me that the market for petroliana and advertising collectibles is healthy. And it didn’t hurt having the Gulf Oil collection of Pat Lutz in the sale.”

Approximately 125 people attended the sale in person, while just under 200 bidders participated online through Proxibid. “There were between 45 and 70 people online at any given time,” Matthews remarked. “The Internet was one of the main reasons the sale was as successful as it was.” Absentee bidding was strong and the few phone bids that were taken were mostly winners.

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

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Avio Motor Oil (“a Product of Midwest Oil
Company”) single-sided embossed tin sign ($5,500).

A hard-to-find Avio Motor Oil single-sided tin sign, 14 inches by 20 inches, saying “a Product of Midwest Oil Company,” rated 8.5 and with only some minor staining in the middle of the field, brought $5,500; and a rare United Motors Service arrow sign, double-sided porcelain, 14 inches by 42 inches, with an early touring car logo and graded a stout 9.5, rose to $6,050.

United Motors Service arrow die-cut sign, double-sided
porcelain, graded a stout 9.5 ($6,050).

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An Alligator Boot (“the Only Boot That Eliminates Shock”) metal counter display with great graphics, 24 inches by 12 inches by 13 inches, marked Leo Meyer Co. (Akron, Ohio) and graded 8.75, coasted to $5,500; and a rare Gulf Oil (“the Oil of Untold Uses”) counter-top metal display with original handy oiler, 12 inches by 10.45 inches and graded 8.0, garnered $4,070.

A Perfect Circle Piston Rings single-sided tin embossed sign (“Don’t Drive an Oil Hog”), with great graphics, 36 inches by 30 inches, with great color and shine and only light wear, graded 7.9, fetched $2,640; and a Columbia Gorge Stage Depot double-sided tin display sign, with a photo of an early bus, 24 inches by 18 inches, with good color, graded 7.9, made $3,190.

An exceptional Sinclair Opaline Motor Oil single-sided porcelain sign (“Made Expressly for Ford Cars”), 20 inches by 48 inches, graded 9.5 with just some minor chips along the bottom edge, breezed to $3,630; and a large-size Time Gas double-sided porcelain die-cut sign (“10 ‘Til 1 O’Clock”), 72 inches by 48 inches, graded 9 on one side and 8.75 on the other, brought $3,575.

A Firestone Aircraft Tires & Accessories single-sided tin sign dated 1946, 30 inches by 72 inches, graded 8.0, hammered for $3,025; a rare Gardner Automotive single-sided tin sign, graded 5.5 and with heavy wear, finished at $1,072; and an Invader Motor Oil double-sided die-cut tin sign with knight on horseback graphics, 30 inches by 30 inches, graded 9.5, hit $1,650.

A Penn Trump Motor Oil one-quart metal can, unassembled (and unable to be assembled), graded 9.5, realized $715; a Wadhams Tempered Motor Oil salesman’s sample 5-gallon motor oil can in rocker box, graded 8.0, demanded $743; and a rare Fleetwing Vertical Bird license plate attachment, single-sided tin and die-cut embossed, graded 7.0, went for $462.

For consignment information, call Matthews Auctions toll-free at 877-968-8880 or e-mail them at To learn more about the firm and its calendar of upcoming sales, visit

Photos courtesy of Matthews Auctions, LLC.


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