A monumental mahogany front and back bar made around 1893 by Brunswick, Balke & Collender Co., the desirable Los Angeles model and with an original matching liquor cabinet, soared to $302,500 at the living estate of Ron Wallace – a dedicated collector and former president of UPS – held Oct. 2-4 at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The three-day auction was held by Showtime Auction Services, based in nearby Woodhaven. The front and back bar was one of the top earners of about 1,700 lots that changed hands in a sale that grossed around $2.2 million. “It was our best auction ever in terms of average dollar amount per lot,” said Mike Eckles of Showtime Auction Services. “It was a very successful sale with several records set.”
One of those records was the front and back bar – 24 feet in wide and 11 feet tall, with hand-carved, life-size nude supports between beveled mirrors, each weighing 140 pounds and standing 5 feet 4 inches tall. The matching liquor cabinet had adjustable shelves and a zinc-like base. “We’ve only seen two of these bars in 25 years, and only one with a matching original liquor cabinet,” Eckles said.
Another record was established for saloon doors when a set made circa 1902, also by Brunswick, Balke & Collender Co., brought $77,000. The solid mahogany swinging saloon doors, 96 inches wide by 78 inches tall, were originally from a saloon in Milwaukee and had applied carvings at the top. They were refinished 25 years ago and had a great patina, with beveled glass incorporated in all the panels.
Wallace, the sale’s headliner, is a larger-than-life figure. He resides in a spectacular, 44,000-square-foot home in suburban Atlanta, where his collections of vintage firearms, advertising, gambling, saloon, brothel and country store items were kept. But the auction also featured a treasure trove of over 1,000 rare and vintage toys, plus barber shop, soda fountain and advertising collectibles, and other items.
About 350 bidders attended the auction in person, while another 100 people bid by phone and 125 others submitted absentee bids. Online bidding was facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.com and iCollector.com, with over 150 people registered to bid online. “The bidders in attendance had a great time and really enjoyed room hopping at the Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor,” Eckles said. “We didn’t see much evidence of a recession. People came to spend money.”