Last week I received an unusual request. Michael Black, an antiques and furniture dealer from New Hampshire, wanted to get my opinion about the value of an item he saw for sale in a local auction. He said it was a car from a children’s ride made by allan herschell. He told me there were photos of it online and forwarded me to the website where they could be seen.
He also explained that due to the terms of the auction he would need to know my opinion within the hour. I asked him why he had called me. He said I don’t know anything about items from the amusement world. And when I am thinking of buying items I don’t know about, I look for an expert. He said when he went online looking, he determined that I was that expert. Now, I have done a couple of appraisals before, but this was the first time I was asked to help a buyer set his bid at an auction. I told him I would do my best and that I would call him back within the hour whether I could give him a good answer or not.
So, being blind, the first thing I did was call my brother Michael in Florida. Luckily, he wasn’t busy right that minute and promised to look at the photos and try to help me determine the value of the item. The owner had already told me that the car said 1910 FORD t and Allan Herschell. This worried me a bit because I knew Allan Herschell didn’t start building rides under their name until 1915. So, while Michael was looking at the photos, I was researching online trying to find some more details on the rides from Coney Island, the Allan Herschell turnpikes, or anything that would shed light on the authenticity or value of his item. Michael called me back and said that the 1910 on the license plate in the photo of the car referred to the fact that it was a copy of the FORD model t built in 1910. That eased my fears about it being a replica or an outright fake. Then Michael told me he had found some old black and white photos for sale on “ebay” showing people riding the cars in question. He said he could not find any actual cars for sale, but that probably just meant they were in the hands of collectors and rarely came up for sale. And my brother verified what the owner had told me about the condition of the car for sale. It is in amazing condition for something that old.
So, I called the potential buyer and informed him that he was looking at purchasing a rare if not one of a kind piece of amusement industry history. I told him things like this are very valuable not only to people who grew up in the fairground business but to fans of amusement parks, carnivals, and fun fairs. And of course, don’t forget that this was made specifically for Coney Island. We couldn’t find any record that Allan Herschell ever built a ride with the same cars on it for anyone else. Mr. Black told me of the range he planned to bid in, and I told him that if he could buy it for that, I would be very confident that he could resell it for a significant profit. Happily, he called me back that night to tell me he won the auction and would be picking up the car the next day.
Now, I am very happy to have helped him with this problem, but there is more to the story. The new owner has decided he wants to sell the car through the midway marketplace. He has decided to have an auction to take place on July 1st. The minimum bid is $2,000, and he will accept bids in $250 increments. The winner will be declared when no one tops a given bid for one hour. He wants me to help vet potential bidders. So, if you would like to bid on this item, You need to email me It was an honor to help Mr. Black with the bidding process, and I’m looking forward to the auction. Its always a great day when you can do or learn something new in your business. If you need an appraisal, feel free to call, email or text telling me your needs. And if you have any items to list, please click here to submit your listing. Be sure to include as much information as possible. I’m always here to answer questions, swap stories, or just talk about the amusement industry. Feel free to drop by any time. Thanks, Max