The 40-year collection of antique advertising tins, signs, store displays and promotional items amassed by Chicago design executives David and Marcia Hirsch kept bidders busy in a Pennsylvania auction.
More than half of the articles offered in the 1,520-lot November sale pertained to tobacco, with as many as 500 of them associated with cigars – a category that has continued to show strength in the marketplace. The auction’s top lot was an early, richly illustrated tin that once held Home Run Cigars. As implied by its name, the tin’s motif depicts baseball players in action on a baseball diamond, with a runner sliding across home plate to score a run amid clouds of dust. Described in the auction catalog as “one of few known examples,” and displaying the best condition among those whose existence is known, it easily surpassed its $8,000-$12,000 estimate to achieve $18,400.
Made by a different cigar manufacturer but having a similar name, a Home-Run Stogie tin from J.A. Rigby Cigar Co., of Mansfield, Ohio, featured images of baseball players on both sides and the price “3 for 5 cents.” Retaining its rich sky blue, crimson and white coloration, the near-mint tin shot past its estimate to land at $4,600.
Yet another rarity with a baseball theme, a Spalding Athletic Goods double-sided porcelain flange sign depicting the company’s stitched-baseball trademark measured 19½ inches in diameter and was in eye-popping near-mint condition. Estimated at $3,000-$5,000, it was bid to $7,500.
In all, the collection realized $560,000 (inclusive of 15% buyer’s premium).
“Everyone who collects antique advertising knows David and Marcia Hirsc,” said Dan Morphy, of Morphy Auctions, which conducted the sale. “They are two of the most involved and best-liked collectors in the hobby,” Morphy said. “It was such a pleasure to be able to offer their collection at auction. Our entire team loved working with them and handling the amazing assortment of signs and tins they had acquired over so many years.”
Marcia Hirsch remarked that she and her husband did not fully realize what a major undertaking it would be to prepare their collection for auction until they were actually immersed “into the process…Unless you were there, you couldn’t imagine the amount of detailing and quality of service we received.” As for seller’s remorse, there wasn’t any, Marcia said. “We had no regrets about parting with the collection, but once the decision was made to sell it, we just moved forward. It was the right time to do it, and we were just fine with it,” she said.