Would you spend $189,750 on an Orange Crush sign?
A man in Arizona did last month at an auction held by Richmond Auctions in Greenville.
It is, of course, not your standard soft drink sign. It is lit with neon, is at least 70 years old and it had never been taken out of the crate it was shipped in.
It is the highest price paid in an auction for a soft drink sign, which is actually quite a large market, said Jordan Richmond, owner of the auction company.
He said the sign originally sold for $315 and was shipped to Kewaunee Orange Crush Bottling Company in Wisconsin by Empire Signs in Rochester, New York.
How it came to be abandoned in a storage unit in New Mexico is anyone’s guess. Or why it had never been taken out of the crate it was shipped in — label still attached.
Richmond bought it from a picker who bought the contents of the storage unit, which didn’t hold anything else of value.
The previous world record for a soda sign was $46,000.
Richmond began his auction house, which specializes in soda and gasoline signs, in 2020. He had was a collector before he was a seller, buying old soda machines and soda signs that he stores all over — his warehouse, office and farm.
He sold his nutrition company, Advanced Nutrition Systems, in 2015 and did consulting for a time. But his passion for collectibles was gnawing at him to do something different.
He staged his first auction in 2020 in Spartanburg. It was so successful, he closed his consulting business.
He said collectors are drawn to such pieces for any number of reasons. For him, they are art — colorful pieces of Americana.
Others buy items for sentimental reasons or they are car collectors and want a sign from the same era to hang on a garage wall.
“It’s a passion,” he said.
A passion that pays well. Richmond also sold a Musgo Gasoline sign from Muskegon, Michigan, last August from the 1920s for $1.5 million. Another world record.
It’s made of porcelain, 48 inches wide, from a business believed to have closed within six months. Richmond, in announcing the sale last year, said most of Musgo’s signs were used as septic tank lids.
The previous record for an antique advertising sign was $400,000. Antique magazine said collectors considered the sign the “holy grail” of antique advertising.
Next up for Richmond are two days of auctions in June. One will be for 1,000 soda signs from a Newberry family and the other the sign collection of Michigan-based Spomer Classics Museum, an automobile museum that is going out of business.