Covering the Mikkelson Collection Auction last weekend was an absolute pleasure on so many levels. Here at Woody Boater we are always on a mission to learn more about the history and culture that makes up the fabric of the antique & classic boating hobby, and share what we learn (or stumble across along the way) with the Woody Boater community.
After our last trip to Minnesota in late October 2010, and visiting with Paul Mikkelson at his museum, and Bruce Olson at the Minnesota Lake Maritime Museum in Alexandrea, our curiosity to learn more about the history of classic boating in Minnesota has never left my mind.
It’s different here, different in a good way, and the people are wonderful. Back in 2010 Paul and Bruce fondly spoke about the many small lakes throughout Minnesota, and how boating in the area was a way of life back in the day. Our friend Lee Wangstad has shared his passion for boating in Minnestota with us for many years now. The visit to Willmar last weekend was the first of many for me, even though there was no time for some actual classic boating – that will be next, another day.
The first thing you see when you arrive in Willmar from the north is a beautiful lake with a public boat launch and an adjacent park. And it makes you feel good, and makes you wish you had a classic boat behind the car to explore the lake. But our mission this weekend was to simply cover the auction with Paul, and soak up as much history as possible during the auction.
When you see these lakes along the highway, and all throughout the Minnesota countryside, just for a moment it makes you think of how it must have been back in the day, and how seeing a Larson Falls Flyer running across the lake in rural Minnesota was as common as seeing a Gar Wood triple on Lake Tahoe, or a U-22 Chris-Craft cruising along the shores of Hessel, Michigan. Vintage advertising like this tells the story.
From the time we arrived in Willmar, MN on Friday afternoon until the auction event wrapped up on Sunday afternoon, if you were an enthusiast in the antique & classic hobby, or interested in the history and culture of the hobby in Minnesota, it was just a fun, enjoyable place to be.
The Willmar Civic Center was a beehive of activity, the folks were great and Paul Mikkelson and his family made us feel welcome. Rich Penn, Jim Volgarino and the entire crew from Rich Penn Auctions did an outstanding job both preparing for the event and presenting the event to the public. And first and foremost, they represented Paul Mikkelson and his collection in a respectful manner which was very impressive.
In the half dozon reports we ran of the auction throughout the weekend on Woody Boater, we covered some of the highlights of the auction, the pricing and descriptions of many of the beautiful Larson Falls Flyers boats that were the cornerstone of the Mikkelson Museum Collection. The memorabilia from the collection, such as the vintage signs were very popular, and in most cases, the sale prices reflected the popularity.
Back in the day, outboard dealers gave away branded promotional items, and the vintage art work was fun to see… Like this original paper matchbook from Mercury Marine. Paul had hundreds of these in his collection, from every manufacturer.
The huge collection of vintage toys were also very popular, and brought (what I thought) were solid prices all weekend. The buyers at the auction were very knowledgeable, and appeared to know what they wanted. There were buyers who in some cases were there bidding on specific lots such as outboard motors, miniatures outboards, etc.
Or when was the last time you ran across a deck of classic boating playing cards, these were very cool. It’s these kind of items that represents how things were back in the day, and we may never get a chance to see again… but we appreciate the fact that we were able to see them at the auction.
Before we sign off, on Sunday night we received a comment from fellow Woody Boater Peter Waldon who purchased the original W84 hydroplane at the storage facility auction on Friday, once owned or driven by Gene Minar. He noticed that Gene’s team race jacket was sold at the auction on Sunday and is now interested to find who purchased it.
Peter commented – “I wish I could find the purchaser of the Gene Minar jacket (on Sunday), I purchased W84 on Friday and was unable to attend the auction and bid on the jacket on Saturday or Sunday.” So if you are out there, let us know via e-mail at Texx@woodyboater.com and we can give you Peter’s contact information.
Well that’s it for now from Willmar, Minnesota. Special thanks to everyone who helped us this weekend, including Jim Staib from Fine Wood Boats in McHenry, Illinois. (Jim we will get those photos of the Aluminum Prototype boat posted next week, as I have a good story on it back home). Thanks to Steve Stevenson, Del Van Emmerik, and Lee Wangstad – who by the way will be preparing a full report of the auction in an upcoming issue of the ACBS Rudder magazine. And also, a big thanks to fellow Woody Boater Dane Anderson for sharing his awesome images from the auction.
Thanks to everyone from Rich Penn Auctions for their hospitality and full access during the event. Thanks as always to our friend Bruce Olson from the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum. Bruce always has a kind word to say, and a smile on his face.
And contratulations to fellow Woody Boater Paul Mikkelson and his family for a truly successful, and truly memorable weekend in Willmar – It was a fantastic experience. Proof that the hobby is alive and well in Minnesota.