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On May 18, Freeman's auction house in Philadelphia held the first-ever sale of vintage Times Square signs and related material from the Artkraft Strauss Collection. As Freeman's notes, "For more than a century, Artkraft Strauss, creator of one-of-a-kind spectacular displays, has provided the world with some of the most innovative and iconic advertisements ever conceived." That would include the famed "smoking" Camel sign, a framed 1940 drawing of which, with production notes, will be on the block, estimated at $1,000-$2,000. However, we lead this showcase with a 1992 55-inch-tall model of a "legendary Coca-Cola display that represents a pinnacle of Artkraft Strauss design, combining numerous light sources, thousands of feet of neon tubing and computerized controls to provide an empty-to-full image of a giant Coke bottle," according to the Freeman's catalog. "This spectacular display tipped its cap 1,000 times a day against a rotating neon background. The minutely detailed scale model in the sale also includes rolled blueprints of the sign, a framed elevation print and photos of the display in situ, in Times Square." It's estimated at $10,000-$20,000.
In the PDF: Chevrolet Corvette Roadster (2002, H: 15 feet, W: 45 feet), $8,000-$12,000 estimate. "This mega-display, vibrantly printed on vinyl mesh, was once part of an immense billboard that promoted the History Channel's 2002 series Boys' Toys; a 2-foot-tall segment of a 1998 Jell-O spectacular "that featured hundreds of neon-outlined spoons, mounted in sections around an oversized spoon" and a Jell-O logo, $3,000-$5,000; Planter's Peanuts (1997, H: 7 1/2 feet, W: 19 feet), $2,000-$3,000. "This large-scale replica of the famous 1952 Times Square display that featured the iconic Mr. Peanut, complete with monocle and blinking red neon 'pointing' cane, was painted by the French artist Sam Quinone, for exhibition at The New-York Historical Society"; and, finally, the actual The Sound of Music marquee from the Mark Hellinger Theatre, 1962, $5,000-$10,000. See www.freemansauction.com and www.artkraft.com for more.