San Antonio’s cultural treasures go up for auction
Trish Hoover recently finished redecorating her husband Michael’s downtown office in a mid-century modern style. So when she heard there was going to be an auction of items related to San Antonio’s history, including memorabilia from HemisFair ’68, she knew she had to be there.
She quickly spotted a pop-art style poster of the Tower of the Americas and the city skyline. When it came up for bid, she was ready.
Others apparently had their eye on the poster, too, and the bidding quickly spiraled upward: $600, $700, $850. She finally won it with a bid of $1,150.
“I know exactly where it’s going to go in his office,” she said afterward, her night complete. “My budget was $500, so I’m done. But the one I got was in the best condition of the four that were there tonight.”
Several hundred people attended the SA 300 Auction at Vogt Auction House on Blanco Road, where approximately 150 items were up for sale Tuesday.
Although items from San Antonio’s long history were featured, the sale was not an official Tricentennial event, according to Robert Vogt, director of the auction house.
“We thought we were going to get official status, but we ran out of time last summer when there was all that confusion with the planning committee,” he explained.
One of the highlights of the auction, an Isaac Maxwell punched copper floor lamp, sold for $5,500, well above Vogt’s $2,000 to $3,000 pre-sale estimate.
“It’s one of the best arts and craft pieces to come out of San Antonio,” he said during the bidding.
On ExpressNews.com: For sale: San Antonio historical icons
Other pieces didn’t fare quite as well.
Until a few days before the auction, there was only one Brackenridge Park skyride gondola for sale. But after a story previewing the event ran in the Express-News, two more gondolas “walked into” the auction house, according to Vogt.
He’d previously estimated the one gondola, in relatively good shape considering it had sailed between the San Antonio Zoo and the Sunken Gardens for 35 years before the ride was grounded in 1999, would go from $8,000 to $12,000. It sold for $4,000. The other two, which were not in as good shape, went for $3,000 and $2,100.
Jim Bennett bought the third one and he said he plans on putting it in the backyard of the Fredericksburg bed and breakfast he and his girlfriend Toni Marshall own.
“We’ll have to fix up the seats, but I like the beat up look of the original,” he said.
Most items sold briskly, and Vogt banged his proverbial gavel frequently, closing sale after sale. A pair of altar gates from San Fernando Cathedral went for $4,000. Several Fiesta Coronation dresses sold for $100 to $300. To the surprise of many, a pair of HemisFair Men’s and Women’s bathroom signs sold for $350 each. (”Let’s get more bathroom signs,” Vogt suggested to his colleagues.)
A set of four hanging pendant lamps from HemisFair by Beaumont Mood sold for $600 and a triangular clock that was one of several located around the fairgrounds, went for $300. An architectural model of the Hilton Palacio del Rio was bought for $600.
Albert Lemus was at the auction in search of beer signs and other memorabilia to decorate the bar he’s set to open near downtown. He was also on the lookout for paintings and silverware, which he collects.
Lemus’ daughter Stephanie also tagged along out of curiosity.
“This is my first time here, but I love everything about HemisFair and Playland Park,” she said.
With a winning bid of $500, local businessman Robert “Dick” Tips, bought an 11-foot-wide Christmas wreath that for years hung in the Rivercenter Mall lagoon area during the holidays. He plans to hang it at the Fairmont Hotel, which he owns.
“I want to keep it downtown where it belongs,” said Tips, who also bought several Fiesta Coronation gowns.
Unfortunately, not everyone went away completely satisfied. Former City Councilman Roger Flores bid on a poster for the exhibit “El Encanto de un Pueblo” (The Magic of a People), which was designed for the children of men and women on the HemisFair staff.
Flores’ efforts came up short however, and the poster sold for $400. Was he unhappy?
“I was a little disappointed,” he said. “My parents met at the fair and it’s always had a special place in my heart. HemisFair was a catalyst for so much of what this city is today.”
One item missing from the auction, much to Vogt’s disappointment, was an original monorail car from Hemisfair ’68, promised to him by the owner who died before it could be delivered to the auction house. The futuristic people-mover is perhaps best remembered for the accident in which 11 cars derailed, killing one woman and injuring 48 others.
Richard A. Marini is a features writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | email@example.com | Twitter: @RichardMarini