Kim Douglass Sells 19th-Century Hardware Store And Contents In Spring City, Pa.

Old Store Counters, Advertising, Tools, And Much More Sold At Two-Day Sale

November 29, 2019

The building and contents of the Mowrey-Latshaw Hardware Company, located at 77 N. Main Street in Spring City, Pa., was sold at auction by Kimberly K Auction LLC over two days on Nov. 1 and 2. Spring City is a small Chester County borough near Royersford. Kim Douglass, owner and auctioneer of Kimberly K. Auction LLC held the sale in conjunction with James Gibson Sr.
The historic hardware store that was built in the early 1870s first opened its doors in 1875. The store today consisted of four floors and eleven rooms, each packed. The real estate also included an adjoining building with two apartments. During its heyday, the hardware store employed over 20 skilled people such as tradesmen. The store had its own tinsmiths, roofers, plumbers, stock boys and counter workers. The showroom still retained its original counters, floors, wainscoting, tin ceiling and signs. The back rooms of storage still housed new-old-stock Victorian era door, window and cabinet hardware as well as a huge quantity of later supplies.
Auctions like this are becoming rare. Because of the vast amount of items contained within the building, the setup took more than six weeks of consistent work from the auction crew and owner. Every day more early and historical items would be uncovered. Some items hadn’t been moved since the turn of the 20th century.
The auction went smoothly with two auctioneers selling simultaneously in different parts of the building. Auctioneers Kim Douglass, along with James Gibson Sr., and Patrick Morgan of New Holland, sold items throughout the two day sale.
Day one consisted of box lots, newer hardware and tools, along with some older store items. Day two consisted of some of the more interesting items such as new-old stock, tin patterns, coal and heat stove items and early tin working and carriage tools. There was a colorful tin WHIZ sign that brought $440. All prices reported include a buyer’s premium. A Mowrey-Latshaw tin stencil was sold for $209, and a tin Tubular Cream Separator sign sold for $632.50. Several painted wood McCormick signs were available, including one full sign and three partial signs. The complete sign brought $412.50, and the partial signs brought $187 each. Any item with the Mowrey-Latshaw names was sought after. One gentleman bought a yardstick for over $20 and said “it was for the memories” when the runner brought it to him.
Highlights also included three original store counters, which fetched $1,650, $1,430 and $880. Wooden barrels and nail kegs were popular, and many unique wooden storage bins dug out from the storage areas garnered a lot of attention. Among the unique early items was an unusual fire ladder and a new-old-stock porcelain Maytag wringer porcelain washer, selling for $55, and an eight-foot wooden barrel roller that was used to unload buckboards and early trucks, which sold for $192.50. A wood rope cutting block with a rope sample board sold for $275. Some of the tin working tools included brakes, benders, shapers, large cutters and patterns. Several yellow painted ladders used throughout the years with the Mowrey-Latshaw name were there for the bidding. A large oversized tin candlestick store display, approximately four feet tall, sold for $137.50. A framed Keystone Farm Wagon advertising print sold for $1,127.50. The third floor held a large quantity of early store receipts, notes and ledgers. The first choice item of the ephemera sold for $440. An early railroad cart, said to be from the Schuylkill Valley Railroad, sold for $935.
While in business, one room in the store was dedicated to hunting, fishing, ammunition, firearms, traps and all things hunting and sporting related. The air guns, BB pistols, scopes, ammunition and accessories were all in high demand.
The real estate sold on the second day of the auction for $233,580. It will be exciting to see the buildings’ transformation by the new owners in the months to come.
This was a fun and exciting auction that liquidated a well-known local store that serviced clients for several generations. The auction attracted buyers both in person and through absentee bidding from numerous states, including Virginia, Alabama, Florida and California. When praised with the way the auction went, auction company owner Kim Douglass replied that she is proud to have a hard working team that helped make it happen.
Kimberly K Auction LLC is based in Boyertown, Pa., and offers live and online auction services. She is a graduate gemologist and a designated personal property appraiser.
For additional information, call 215-416-8837 or email


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