TERRE HAUTE — Since Sunday, more than a dozen workers have been busy loading and unloading boxes full of the Hulman family history, categorizing items for an auction slated this weekend at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds.
Many of the items are part of the estate of Mary Antonia “Mari” Hulman George, the daughter of Anton “Tony” Hulman Jr. and Mary Fendrich Hulman. Mari George was the chairwoman of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 1988 to 2016. She also was chairwoman of Hulman & Co.
After her death on Nov. 3, 2018, the collection was cataloged for tax purposes and, after a family decision, are now up for auction.
The auction has added a third day and will run Friday through Sunday in the exhibition hall at the fairgrounds south of Terre Haute at 3901 South U.S. 41. Doors open at 8 a.m. each day, with the auction running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
“We have an idea of what a lot of these items are worth, but they are so rare there is nothing to compare them to, as there is only one presentation Cartier silver bull,” said Zack Burgess of Burgess Auctions of Knightstown.
The miniature sterling silver bull figurine came from the “Hulman family vault” and is with its original box and paperwork. It was given by Peugeot, a French automobile company, with that company’s logo.
The bull is engraved with “A.H.” for Anton Hulman. It also says “Peugeot Inc., 750 Third Avenue, New York.” The 750 Third Avenue building is a 35-story tower built in 1958 that spans a full block front of Third Avenue in New York City between 46th and 47th Streets.
“We know what a Cartier silver bull is worth but we don’t know what that presentation (and) the historical importance (of Anton Hulman) will add to the sale. The bidders and buyers will tell us at the end of the day. These items are so scarce and rare, we really don’t know,” Burgess said.
Burgess and Wickliff Auctioneers of Carmel will run the auction.
The 25,000-square foot exhibition hall at the fairgrounds is full of items. So much so, more items will be brought in after each sale, said Robert J. Brown, who heads the Indianapolis-based Robert J. Brown Appraisal Services.
There are eclectic items such as a 1944 porthole from the transport ship S.S. Ernie Pyle made into a table, and a case of 1,000 rounds of 30-30 Winchester 160-grain ammunition.
There’s also Indianapolis 500 items such as a long canvas banner, which is hung up and spans the middle of the exhibition hall at the fairgrounds. It was found among boxed items.
Other items include framed Indy 500 race photos, such as of Tommy Milton, the 1921 winner of the Indianapolis 500. Also among the items, an original brick, a 1901 Culver Bock — to be exact — one of 3.2 million paving bricks used to upgrade the surface of the Indianapolis race track in the fall of 1909.
There are also boxes of glassware marking the 100th anniversary of Hulman & Co. from 1850 to 1950.
Also present is a table full of tin containers of Clabber Girl baking powder, as well as containers and cans of brands owned by Clabber Girl such as Rumford, Davis, Hearth Club, Royal and KC baking powder. There’s also tin cans with the brands such as Embassy’s Lucy Boy baking power or Fleischmann’s baking powder.
“Some times they would buy a competitor’s brand to analyze what is in it,” said William C. Metzger, the executor of the estate of Mari Hulman George. “Part of this is just the collectability of these old cans,” he said, while holding a Dr. Price’s Phosphate Baking Powder can.
Metzger said crews on Wednesday continued to get “everything unpacked and see what we can do for displays. What we still have to bring are more antique kind of items used in the wholesale grocery business, like barrel lifts, some scales and tables. We are going to try to get everything in,” he said.