The 2012 Vintage Fireworks Auction

01
of 09

Fireworks: Pictures and Prices

© Morphy Auctions

Morphy Auctions' ​sale of fireworks in 2012 was certainly a colorful one, if not necessarily a noisy one. Antique and vintage fireworks were offered from the renowned collection of George Moyer. The two-day sale, of 1,300 lots was sold for $438,000.

Moyer co-author of the 2008 book Firecrackers!: An Eye-Popping Collection of Chinese Firework Art has been collecting since he was ten years old! He would pick up wrappers discarded after the firework packages were open. Over the years, Moyer would find his stuff though ads or at collector and toy shows, there were no organized groups. Eventually groups did form, even with collector club conventions.

One of the best tips for garage sale shopping is asking if the seller "has any _____ (whatever you collect)", this was another way Moyer would find his pieces.

After forty years his collection was widely known among collectors and mentioned numerous times in national publications.

According to Dan Morphy, “This level of media attention might not have seemed so unusual had it been a collection of Picassos, but we’re talking about firecrackers – ephemeral objects that cost as little as one cent when they were first marketed.”

The cheap (original price) packages with their brilliant and colorful graphics have always interested advertising collectors and with the wide range of subjects on the packages, the fireworks images also get attention for those who are into other collecting areas.

Shown above: The top lot of the sale was a rare salesman’s display board containing 20 sample sparklers, caps, and firecracker packs.

  • Salesman's Sample Board
  • Rarity: Many extremely rare and desirable packs.
  • Condition: Excellent
  • Size: Display Board: 24 - 3/4" x 14 - 1/2". Estimate: $5,000 - $10,000
  • Auction Price: $7,200.*

*Includes 20% Buyers Premium

02
of 09

Balfour's Race Cars

© Morphy Auctions

Moyer life and work sounds like a blast, he also owns an amusement machine company and is a licensed pyrotechnician. Yes, he can still fire them off at public events.

The 40-year collection, entire and unpicked through, was offered at the auction in 1,300 lots.

Shown above: A Balfour’s 40-piece pack of "supercharged flashlight crackers" depicts early, open-wheel Indy-style racers.

  • Balfour's 40-Pack 1 - 11/16" Firecrackers.
  • Class 1. Balfour Guthrie & Co. Ltd. in San Francisco, CA
  • Rarity: Might be the only known example
  • Condition: Near Mint
  • Estimate: $2,000 - $4,000
  • Auction Price: $3,900*

*Includes 20% Buyers Premium

03
of 09

Mercury Firecrackers

© Morphy Auctions

  • Mercury 16-Pack 1 - 1/2" Firecrackers
  • Class 2. Manufactured by Hing Cheong Yeung Hong.
  • Rarity: Very rare. Might be the only known example.
  • Condition: Near Mint
  • Estimate: $1,000 - $3,000
  • Auction Price: $2,900*

*Includes 20% Buyers Premium

04
of 09

Greyhound Fireworks

© Morphy Auctions

This is a perfect example of a cross-collectible. Dog lovers, especially those how collect Greyhound memorabilia would definitely be interested in something like this.

  • Greyhound 20-Pack Firecrackers
  • Class 1. Manufactured by Ming Hing
  • Rarity: Might be the only known example
  • Condition: Near Mint
  • Size 3 - 1/8" x 2 - 1/2"
  • Estimate: $500 - $1,000
  • Auction Price: $2,280*

*Includes 20% Buyers Premium

05
of 09

Jackass Brand

© Morphy Auctions

The cracker with a kick!

  • Jackass Lucky Series Brand 24-Pack Firecrackers
  • Class 1. Manufactured by Tung Fong
  • Rarity: Might be the only example known
  • Condition: Near Mint
  • Size: 3 - 3/4" x 3 - 3/4"
  • Estimate: $500.00 - $1,000
  • Auction Price: $2,700*

*Includes 20% Buyers Premium

06
of 09

Marine Brand Firecrackers

© Morphy Auctions

The pack that Moyer said he found hardest to part with was the one called "Marine, with a depiction of US Marines in a battlefield. "I had a sentimental attachment to it because I, myself, served in the Marine Corps," he said.

  • Marine Brand 70-Pack Firecrackers
  • Class 1
  • Rarity: Might be the only known example
  • Condition: Near Mint
  • Size: 8 - 5/8" x 3 - 1/4"
  • Estimate: $1,00. - $3,000
  • Auction Price: $3,000*

07
of 09

Lone Eagle Firecracker

© Morphy Auctions

The Lone Eagle Firecracker makes one think of Charles Lindberg with the name, but he didn't fly a bi-wing plane over Chinese Junks! But they also included an image of an Indian Chief, so not sure what the name or image was to imply. Regardless, this package of firecrackers was way over the bid estimate.

  • Lone Eagle Brand 70-Pack Firecrackers
  • Class 1
  • Condition: Near Mint
  • Size: 5" x 3"
  • Estimate: $400 - $600
  • Auction Link
  • Auction Price: $1,440*

*Includes 20% Buyers Premium

08
of 09

Santa Claus Firecracker

© Morphy Auctions

Great Santa graphics on this package of firecrackers. Although this is considered a rare example, other packages (square, rectangular, etc) had very similar graphics of Santa.

  • Santa Claus 50 Roll Pack
  • Manufactured by Cham Kong Kwangstung
  • Rarity: Might be the only example known
  • Condition: Excellent
  • Size 2 - 3/8" x 2 - 1/8"
  • Estimate: $400 - $800
  • Auction Price: $1320*
  • Auction link

09
of 09

Christmas Special Firecrackers

© Morphy Auctions

Not quite as colorful as some of the other packages, but Santa is always a big draw, at least it is for me.

  • Christmas Special Salutes Firecracker Label
  • Rarity: Might be the only example known
  • Condition: Excellent Plus
  • Size 7 - 1/2" x 3 - 1/2"
  • Estimate: $200 - $300
  • Auction Price: $300*
  • Auction Link