Bonhams Auction of the Dr. Ralph W.E. Cox Jr. Collection Tops One Million

The Auction of the Estate of Dr Ralph W.E. Cox Jr.
10 May 2014
Cape May, NASW Aviation Museum

Single Estate Fresh to Market Offerings Draw Collectors to Cape May, New Jersey

(May 11, 2014) New York, NY – Collector's world over were drawn to the eclectic offerings at the Bonhams auction of the Dr. Ralph W.E. Cox Jr. estate, with the day's sales reaching well over the one million dollar mark. Eager collectors lined up at the door on May 10th, as the event opened at the NASW Aviation Museum at Cape May Airport, the very site where the collection had been on public display fifty years ago. Enthusiastic bidding from a knowledgeable audience ensured a competitive atmosphere, with bids volleying between those present in the room and the global internet market and exceptional items exceeding presale estimates considerably.

The sale attracted more than 280 bidders from sixteen different countries, concluding Bonhams dispersal of the Cox Estate with a combined total of $3m for the collection. "The success of this sale is a tribute to the extraordinary pioneering taste of Dr. Ralph W.E. Cox Jr.," Rupert Banner motorcar specialist and the day's chief auctioneer said. "His fascination with all manner of self propelled machines is obviously shared by collectors today, given the wonderful reception we received at Cape May."

Dr. Ralph W.E. Cox, Jr. certainly had an eye for the unusual and the day's top lots reflected his tastes. A beautifully preserved c1870 Silsby Steam Fire Pumper, sold to a bidder present in the room who beat out the internet competition at $100,000, while a telephone bidder took the Savoia Marchetti S-56 Airplane at $100,000. The 1906 San Francisco Street Cable Car was successfully bought by a collector seated in the room, who now owns a stellar piece of San Francisco history for $87,500. The winning bidder's efforts were met with thunderous applause. The 1918 J.G. Brill & Company Streetcar, an exceptional survivor of a bygone era sold for $52,500.

The top lot of the day went to a beautiful antique automobile, the 1909 Premier Model 45, one of the few 6-cylinder Premiers still in existence today, selling for $143,000 to a telephone bidder. Intense competition among those present in the room against a full bank of telephone bidders for the very rare 1904 Ford Model 'AC', made all the more desirable given its eligibility for a wide range of Veteran auto events including the world famous Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, resulted in a win for a bidder present in the room at $88,000. This priceless piece of history found an excellent home right in New Jersey with a member of the Horseless Carriage Club of America who plans take it on the Club's one and two cylinder car tours.

The 1933 "Double Decker" bus by Yellow Coach, still in its 5th Avenue Coach Company livery, is also staying in New Jersey, and will become part of The Mahan Collection in Basking Ridge, after a careful restoration and refurbishment. The highly unusual collectible sold for $37,400.

"The NASW Aviation Museum was delighted to host Bonhams for this important auction," Dr. Joseph Salvatore director of the museum said. "We appreciate all the interest and attention the world wide event bought to our wonderful historic aviation museum."

The automobilia section of the auction saw many items exceeding presale estimates, and again the Collector's eclectic taste resonated with the bidders. Many of the mechanical instrumental machines tripled their presale estimates, with a J.P. Seeburg orchestrian sold for $35,000 more than doubling the presale estimate, and a Mills Violan-Viruoso coin-operated instrument c 1915, sold for $11,875, more than triple the presale estimates. All of Dr. Cox spares and collectibles found homes, including dozens of brass lamps, speedometers, horns, engines and other rare antique car parts. A select number of aircraft items, including engines by Continental, Wright and Pratt, Whitney, and even a Wasp Major - one of the largest piston aircraft engines ever built, were also sold, along with the Savoia aircraft and other aviation items.

"Single estate sales of this magnitude and diversity are rare," Evan Ide motorcar specialist at Bonhams said. "We are thrilled to have bought these items to market after decades in the private collection."

Full results from the May 10th auction are available on line at The Bonhams collector motorcar auction at the site of the Greenwich Concours d'Elegance, a long-standing Bonhams auction venue, is coming up June 1st. For more information visit the motorcars information page at:


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

  1. Evan Ide
    Work Boston, United States
    Work +1 917 340 4657
    Mobile +1 917 340 4657

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