Beer signs and more

Cindy Morrison shows her late father Fred Robertson’s “museum/man cave” featuring alcohol-related memorabilia.


A collection of signs, glasses and other alcohol-related memorabilia goes on sale Saturday morning, one of several sales of items from two eclectic Chanute collectors.

Cindy Morrison said she has cleaned and priced 775 items from her father’s collection of beer signs and other memorabilia for the sale. Other items have been promised to friends and relatives. The sale of beer and liquor-related items includes figurines, displays, steins, glasses, serving trays and ash trays. And signs – lots of signs.

Morrison said her father, Fred Robertson, began collecting beer signs when her sister Gina gave him a lighted Goetz sign in 1974.

“He just kind of exploded from there,” Morrison said. 

Her father died in 2006 and her mother, Virginia, died in the past year at the age of 91. They left behind a house built in 1880 filled with several kinds of historic and collectible items.

The sale starts at 9 am Saturday at Playmakers.  It is not an auction, and items will have fixed prices. Morrison said a lot of items are priced at $50 or less.

She said her father enjoyed items that moved or lit up. A few of the beer collectibles go back as far as the 1940s, some from the 1950s and ‘60s and a lot from the 1970s on.

“There’s no discrimination,” Morrison said. “If it was neat-looking, that’s what he wanted.”

He also collected bottles, cans and pull-tabs. One room of the house, once a den or library, became a sort of museum or “man cave” and he would light up all the signs for visitors. He also had five arcade machines including pinball.

The exploding popularity of “man caves” has created a high demand for beer and liquor memorabilia, and Morrison said her father would be surprised at the modern prices. Now collectors tend to seek specific brands, although her father had broader interest.

He didn’t drink the St. Joseph, Mo.-based Goetz brand, but did have a keg of beer in a refrigerator in the basement.

One item was a hanging lamp from 1969 that featured the Budweiser Clydesdale horses and wagon on a carousel that turned. Morrison said her parents also collected St. Clair glass and custard glass, a cream-colored type of glass often used in souvenirs from small towns, including Iola.

Virginia collected magazines from the early decades of the 20th Century and string holders, artistic wall-hangings that dispensed packaging string. She also collected various kinds of figurines with one thing in common.

“She collected things that looked up,” Morrison said. “This was her positive affirmation shelf.”

Although her father collected beer signs, he avoided the neon ones because they were difficult to fix. He also collected radios, some dating to the 1930s, and had vacuum tubes and a tube-tester. He often worked in the basement repairing things.

“He’d tinker down there for hours,” Morrison said.

She said her parents loved to go to auctions and flea markets.

Items left over from Saturday’s sale and other collections will go to auction, including to an Iowa-based auction house. Three auctions are planned for the fall before the estate is settled, and Morrison said she plans to turn to eBay.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” she said.

She said her father would be glad to see items going to friends.

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