Pennsylvania minister’s 50-year collection of farm antiques, lanterns, dairy bottles headed to auction, Aug. 14 at Morphy’s

August 9th, 2010 by

Metal pharmaceutical company sign advertising veterinary product Kreso Dip. Sign features images of horses, turkeys, roosters, pigs, sheep and cows; est. $800-$1,200. Dan Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, Pa. – In 1960, Frank Zeager, a Mennonite minister from Lancaster County, Pa., attended his first auction and impulsively purchased a pair of old door hinges. His father-in-law, who was with him at the auction, asked Frank where he planned to use the hinges. Frank replied, “I just want to look at them.”

Little did Frank suspect his first auction purchase would lead to a 50-year pursuit of country antiques and farm-related Americana. Together with his beloved late wife, Rhoda (who passed away in May), Frank wended his way through thousands of flea markets, antique shops and auctions over the decades, as the two of them amassed a collection of objects they would proudly display and enjoy in their home, a 100-year-old homestead.

The Zeager collection is a living testament to rural Pennsylvania’s early agrarian culture. It encompasses hundreds of rare dairy bottles, glass jars, railroad and skaters’ lanterns, insulators and farm utensils. There are tractor seats and tools, utensils, chicken feeders and graniteware, and an assortment of fascinating kitchen implements including corn shellers and cherry seeders.

Their wonderful array of advertising signs, numbering in the hundreds, includes some real gems that advertise, for example, Vitalic Tires & Motorcycle, Old Fort Seeds, and a veterinary product called Kreso Dip No. 1. A double-sided flange sign emblazoned with the image of a comical, scraggly-looking rooster advertises Conkeys First Aid Products. Many of the rare and colorful signs are in pristine condition.

Circa-1934 emerald green glass eggnog bottle from East End Dairy, Harrisburg, Pa.), 9 ¼ inches, near mint, extremely rare, est. $1,500-$3,500. Dan Morphy Auctions image.

Frank’s interest in milk bottles began more than 30 years ago when he purchased a Foltz Dairy bottle for $40. Today, that bottle might be worth $2,000-$3,000. Rhoda, on the other hand, had a passion for peanut butter tumblers – the decorative glasses that served yet another utilitarian purpose after the contents had been consumed.

On Aug. 14, 2010, the Zeagers’ collection will be auctioned at Dan Morphy’s gallery in Denver, Pennsylvania (approx. 1 hr. 20 mins. northwest of Philadelphia). “Many outstanding collections pass through our doors, but we’ve never seen anything like the collection Frank and Rhoda Zeager built over 50 years’ time,” said auction company owner, Dan Morphy. “Frank grasped one of the most important lessons about collecting with that very first purchase of door hinges. He bought something he genuinely wanted to look at, and that’s something he and Rhoda continued to do throughout their collecting journey. They bought what they liked, and they always went for quality first.”

The auction of the Frank and Rhoda Zeager collection of farm antiques, glass lanterns, dairy bottles and advertising signs will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010, at Dan Morphy Auctions, 2000 N. Reading Road, Denver, PA 17517. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet as the sale is taking place through Morphy Live (www.morphyauctions.com) or LiveAuctioneers.com.

All items are available to preview now at Dan Morphy’s gallery. For additional information on any item in the sale, call 717-335-3435 or e-mail dan@morphyauctions.com. View the fully illustrated color catalog online at www.morphyauctions.com.

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