Dig into a trove of vintage automobilia up for grabs this weekend

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Mark Smith Auction - Ford Auto Company sign
Matthews Auctions

Mark Smith frequented classic car auctions, tours, swap meets, and concours with equal enthusiasm, and he certainly made an impression wherever he went.

“Any car of importance or significance was either bought, sold, or passed through the hands of Mark Smith,” says Matt Orendac, vice chair of Hagerty’s Concours Group. “It’s unfathomable the number of cars, automobilia, engines, and history that he stored, drove, or witnessed. There will never be another Mark Smith.”

Judging from the slew of comments on Antique Automobile Club of America’s forum page when Smith died last November, Orendac is hardly alone in his impression of the longtime collector.

Mark Smith Collection automobilia
Matthews Auctions

“Mark’s knowledge of cars—especially prewar cars—was second to none,” Motoringicons commented on the AACA forum page. “If you ever needed to know the history of a significant car, Mark could rattle it off without even thinking about it—and chances are he either owned it or was somehow involved with it … His entire life and purpose in life was dedicated to old cars …

“Mark was always one of the Old Car Hobby’s great characters. Horse trading with Mark was always an experience, but at the end of the day, always worthwhile.”

Smith’s collection of automobiles, motorcycles, signs, and automobilia was so vast that it was housed in two locations, one in Wisconsin, the other in Virginia. So, it’s no wonder that it has taken a string of sales, through Matthews Auctions, to find new homes for the trove of pieces. Three auctions remain: an advertising auction July 29–30 in Waterloo, Wisconsin; a vintage car and parts auction October 19–21 in Lynchburg, Virginia; and a motorcycle and memorabilia auction December 9 in Waterloo.

Mark Smith Auction - United States Tires display
United States Tires service station display. Matthews Auctions

Among the automobilia up for bids on Saturday, July 29, are vintage oil cans, oil barrels, and porcelain, metal, and wooden signs (like this classic Coca-Cola School Zone Crossing sign). Items offered on Sunday, July 30, include gas pump globes, service station clocks and thermometers, neon displays, and more oil cans and signs. Perhaps the biggest items—both in size and interest—are six huge gas station signs and poles (like this one from Sinclair) and an amazing oak gas pump and oil lubester cabinet on wheels. Potential buyers are allowed to bid by proxy.

Looking ahead to October’s auction of Smith’s remaining cars—held in conjunction with Polk Auction Company—Matthews Auctions says a complete list of vehicles will be posted at a later date. The same goes for December’s motorcycle auction, although the site does offer a few details. In addition to petroliana and motorcycle advertising, artwork, prints, and lithographs, more than 40 motorcycles and scooters will be offered, from Harley-Davidson, Indiana, Flying Merkel, Triumph, Moto Guzzi, Ariel, and others.

Whether or not you knew Mark Smith, he had an eye for great vehicles and automobilia, and he preserved some cool stuff that will soon be enjoyed by new owners.

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