America’s Ultimate Barn Find Auction!!!
This November 3-5, 2011, Auctions America by RM in partnership with RM Auctions will be lifting the gavel on one of the Chicago area’s best known treasures — The Lee Hartung Collection. Billed as the "Ultimate Barn Find Auction", the three-day sale will include over 2500 lots, and will put up for sale literally hundreds of America’s rarest and most unique two- and four-wheeled vehicles.
Lee Hartung was a collector’s collector. Based in Glenview, IL, Hartungs collection rested on 4 acres in the middle of the North Chicago suburb, and was amassed over the 60 years since he purchased the property in the 1940s. For those fortunate enough to get a glimpse of Lee’s collection over the past decades — they were among a select few to step into a time-warp that told a unique story of 20th century Chicago —- from Lee’s point of view.
Dale was one of those fortunate individuals, having stumbled across the collection in the mid-1980s during a trip through the Chicago area to visit a friend. Immediately, Dale recognized the gravity of the collection, as well as the unique and passionate individual that had made it his life’s mission to preserve and amass the history housed within those walls.
"Upon walking on the property, one would have no idea what to expect," said Dale. "Unless you had been there before, you might even thing that you’d ventured into the wrong place. But after being greeted by Lee and dropping a few bucks for admission in the donation jar, you knew that you’d stumbled onto one of America’s most little known treasures".
"Lee collected everything Chicago." says Dale. Resting just inside collections main building were over a hundred rare automobiles and motorcycles. A collection of Ford Model-A and Model-T cars and trucks sat within inches of each other, covered no only in dust, but with various other collections Lee had amassed over his decades of accumulating history, including Early televisions, toys, radios, and hot-rod automotive parts many of which had never been used. Motorcycles and bicycles lined the walls and sat on shelves twenty feet off the ground, put up by Lee as far back as the 1950s. Gas pumps, piles hit and miss engines, childrens rides, and vintage outboard motors rested in every corner, having most likely sat since Lee had discovered them who knows how long ago.
Lee had an eye for both rarity and originality. Many of the machines in the collection had never been restored or modified, including the very rare 1948 One-of-a-kind Veritas and the 1951 Sterling Edwards Roadster, as well as a host of motorcycles including original, unrestored examples of a 1912 Harley, 1910 Pope, numerous four-cylinder Hendersons and Indians, a 1910 Excelsior, 1902 Wagner, and even a 1913 Flying Merkel.
"Since the first day I met Lee Hartung, I knew right away that I was in the presence of one of the most passionate, yet eccentric people I’ve ever met," says Dale. "From that day on, I made it a point to stop by at least once a year, to see the collection grow, sit and share stories, occasionally swap a few parts, and to hear Lee’s general outlooks on life. I always left amazed, and with a new life lesson that only ‘The General’, as we called him, could teach."
As fate would have it, Lee Hartung passed away in May of 2011. "It was a very sad day," says Dale, "as a good friend and one of the world’s most interesting and passionate collectors was gone forever."
While we may never see the likes of another Lee Hartung, nearly ever piece of his collection will have the opportunity to live on, as RM Auctions/Auctions America has announced a 3-day sale of the collection on November 3-5, 2011, with a total of over 2500 lots, and a special two-day preview for those interested in attending.
Since RM’s announcement, Dale has been hard at work helping to uncover, identify and value many of the machines that will be up for bid, as well as lending his particular expertise in breathing a little life back into several of the motorcycles and autos for the first time in ages.
Watch a few of the videos to see first-hand the magnitude of the Lee Hartung Collection, and even catch Dale and crew get a few of the bikes running for the first time in decades.
For more information on the Lee Hartung Estate Auction, visit RM Auctions Website!