The result of over five decades of judicious collecting by brothers Bob and Paul Milhous, the collection features a series of mechanical musical instruments, automobiles and collectibles, handpicked from around the world and representing the ‘best of the very best’.
In February, after playing host to countless visitors and charitable events, the museum doors will open one final time as the Milhous brothers offer the collection for auction. The upcoming sale will feature over 550 lots, presenting a diverse range of ownership opportunities for collectors.
“The Milhous Collection is one of the finest of its kind anywhere in the world, with a strong emphasis on rarity, authenticity and superior quality,” says Rob Myers, Chairman & Founder, RM Auctions.
“We are honored to have been entrusted with the sale of this important collection and delighted to be working in association with Sotheby’s for what promises to be an unprecedented sale. Never before has such a wonderful assortment of mechanical musical instruments, motor cars and collectibles been offered to the public in one location. Compiled by connoisseurs for connoisseurs, the sale presents an unrepeatable, once-in-a-lifetime ownership opportunity for discriminating collectors,” continued Myers.
For automotive enthusiasts, the upcoming Milhous Collection sale presents a gathering of over 30 automobiles, spanning the spectrum of the collector car market from Brass era cars to a roster of coachbuilt classics and Indianapolis racing cars.
Headlining the offering is a Pebble Beach class-winning 1912 Oldsmobile Limited Five-Passenger Touring, chassis number 64626, the only known surviving example from 1912 and featuring one-off coachwork (Est. $1,400,000 – $1,600,000). Other notable highlights from the various different genres include: the ex-Ralph Roberts 1933 Chrysler Custom Imperial Tourist with LeBaron coachwork (Est. $750,000 – $1,000,000); a 1939 Lagonda V-12 Rapide Sports Roadster, delivered new to actor Robert Montgomery (Est. $400,000 – $550,000); and the 1949 Rounds Rocket Race Car, the first mid-engine, rear-drive Indianapolis racing car and featuring superb provenance including an alleged Howard Hughes connection (Est. $250,000 – $350,000).
Other notable entries at the RM Auctions Milhous Collection auction include a 1930 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Convertible Sedan (Est. $900,000 – $1,200,000); a 1932 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Sedan, just four owners from new (Est. $400,000 – $600,00); and a pair of Fleetwood-designed Cadillac Sixteens (Est. $700,000 – $1,000,000 each), all of which are displayed in a faithful replica of the original Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg showroom within the private Milhous museum. The sale also features a selection of collectible motorcycles, including a 1949 Indian Scout Motorcycle and a 1972 Harley-Davidson FLH1200 Super Glide Motorcycle (Est. $20,000 – $30,000 each).
Mechanical Musical Instruments
Beyond the automobiles, the Milhous Collection’s focus lies in an assortment of mechanical musical instruments, the technical sophistication of which rivals the engineering found in the finest motor cars of the era. Highlighting the offering is over 100 theatre, fair and dance organs, considered among the rarest, largest and most mechanically complex and decoratively elaborate examples in existence. One of the many jewels of the prized collection is the original Wurlitzer Family Residential / Theatre Pipe Organ, a 30-rank theatre organ formerly in the Wurlitzer home in Cincinnati, Ohio (Est. $450,000 – $650,000). Other highlights include: an Art Deco styled Mortier Dance Organ (Est. $175,000 – $275,000); an ornate Ruth Style 38-B Fair Organ, one of the largest examples manufactured by the respected firm A. Ruth & Söhne (Est. $1,000,000 – $1,200,000); and, a Gaudin 125-Key Dance Organ, finished with gold leaf and delicate oil paintings (Est. $1,000,000 – $1,200,000). All are presented in restored condition.
The Milhous Collection sale also features the largest compilation of major orchestrion pieces ever to be offered at auction and a world-class selection of historic music boxes, faithfully restored and maintained by specialists. Among a long list of highlights is a Welte Wotan Brass Band Orchestrion, the largest model of the Welte line, originally from the immense Bob-Lo Island Dance Hall in Detroit, Michigan (Est. $1,500,000 – $2,500,000); plus a Hupfeld Super Pan Orchestrion, considered to be one of the most significant Hupfeld products ever built (Est. $800,000 – $1,200,000). Other notable entries include a Hupfeld Style B Phonoliszt Violina with Dea Violin System (Est. $350,000 – $450,000) and a large six cylinder Paillard Music Box (Est. $20,000 – $40,000).
Additional Milhous Collection Highlights:
Although selecting individual highlights is a challenging task, given the incredible quality of each piece, the ‘crown jewel’ of the collection is arguably the large, hand-built, 46-foot custom carousel. The centerpiece of the Milhous museum and specially commissioned and constructed by the Milhous brothers over several years, this exceptional piece features an extraordinary menagerie of 42 animals, all hand-carved in basswood. Accompanied by its very own Wurlitzer 153 Band Organ, it truly represents an opportunity not to be missed by established and burgeoning private collections. (Est. $1,000,000 – $1,500,000).
“It is a one-of-a-kind, fully-functioning work of art—an incredible example of custom craftsmanship, mechanical music and entertainment,” describes Myers.
The Milhous Collection is rounded out by an eclectic assortment of other collectibles, ranging from ornate hall and tower clocks to such decorative art pieces as Tiffany lamps and various artworks, as well as a diverse series of petroliana, neon and porcelain signs, unique gasoline-powered tether cars and models, and a large range of firearms from the late 19th century. Be sure to view the video below to see the jaw-dropping selection of automobiles, instruments and other interesting items up for sale.
[Source: RM Auctions]