The two-day sale of Vernon Walker’s massive collection of more than 400 vintage and primarily double-sided porcelain and neon signs produced $4.65 million at a Mecum Auctions event held in one of the buildings west of Memphis where Walker stored his signs.
All 421 of the signs were sold, topped by the $125,000 paid for a one-of-a-kind, animated Weakley Equipment Co. Lawn Equipment sign. The sign dated to 1948 and was more than 11 feet tall.
Other top sales included a Goodyear Tires C.O.D. Garage Co. sign from the 1920s for $100,000. The sign was made from tin with milk-glass lettering.
A rotating Mobil Pegasus sign went for $72,500, and Chevrolet, Dodge Brothers, Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealer signs, each sold for between $60,500 and $65,000 (prices include buyer’s fees).
Vernon Walker started collecting signs to keep them from being destroyed — or at least split into two signs sold separately — when he was in his mid-20s. At one point, he had enough that he thought about opening a museum. But he got so busy buying them that he didn’t have time to do a museum and now, at age 74, he decided to sell them.
“I figured they should be hung up so people can enjoy them,” he said before the sale.
A rare New Idea Farm Equipment sign sold for $38,000 to a buyer who found it irresistible.
“I hadn’t seen one in 70 years,” the buyer said, “and I couldn’t wait until 70 to find another one, so I just had to have it.”
Mecum stages its next sale April 9-11 in Houston, where some 1,000 classic and
collectible vehicles will be offered.