The late Charlie Schalebaum was known as the King of Hershey because of his high-quality displays of automobilia at the famed Hershey, Pennsylvania, car shows and swap meets.
Milestone Auctions of Cleveland, Ohio, recently held a 496-lot sale of Schalebaum’s automobiles, automotive art and unique collector’s items, which included a life preserver from the U.S. battleship Maine; the 1898 explosion and sinking of the warship helped provoke the Spanish-American War under the battle cry, “Remember the Maine.”
The sell-through rate for the collection of the popular Schalebaum reached 98 percent with a total of $341,000. (All sales results include buyer fees.)
The top sale was for his ultra-low-mileage 1982 Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible that sold for $39,600 against a pre-sale estimate of $15,000 to $25,000. The Rolls, in blue over silver with a black interior, has a remarkably low 15,707 miles on its odometer.
The second-highest sale was a polar opposite from that of the Corniche, a 1972 Volkswagen panel van in like-new, all-original condition with just 25,000 miles showing. It went for $20,400 against an estimated value of $8,000 to $12,000.
“It’s very unusual to see a VW delivery van in such great condition, so we knew there would be a lot of interest in it,” Milestone co-owner Chris Sammet commented in a news release.
Another strong seller was a vintage 21-foot 1961 Chris-Craft Continental wood boat with stylistic flourishes that include jet-age tailfins. The powerboat was beautifully restored and sold with a tandem-axle trailer for $34,800.
As well as his cars and watercraft, Schalebaum collected a sundry array of historic artifacts.
“Charlie had a real curiosity for objects of the past,” Sammet said. “He loved historical memorabilia, antique advertising, folk art, nautical memorabilia, antiquities – you name it.”
Among the seagoing items, the original canvas life saver from the USS Maine sold for “a buoyant $3,360,” the news release said, while a “very large and impressive Chelsea-style brass ship’s clock manufactured by Smith & Sons of London garnered $3,000, going six times over the high estimate, and a flag flown on the MS Stockholm on the day in 1956 that it tragically collided with the Andrea Doria reached an above-estimate price of $1,380.”
Perhaps most unusual among the nautical items was an authenticated bronze spike from Christopher Columbus’ ship the Santiago de Palos, which sank in St. Anne’s Bay, Jamaica, in 1504 during his final voyage to the Americas. It exceeded pre-sale expectations at $870.
“We were overwhelmed by the number of positive comments people made about Charlie,” Sammet added. “He was very well-liked and respected by his fellow collectors. His name brought a lot of people to the sale, and they were spenders.
“If they knew a piece had come from Charlie’s collection, that was all the provenance they needed.”