Mayer Museum Collectibles Find New Home in Auto Museum
Recently, we had the honor of auctioning a massive collection from one of Arizona’s historic landmarks, Smitty’s Antiques Museum. The famous museum in the northern-Arizona town of Mayer was forced to close after experiencing recurring flash flooding problems in its parking lot as a result of the devastating Goodwin Fire in June. None of the collectibles were affected, but the museum’s current owner decided to close the museum in July.
The eclectic museum – which was featured in the popular television show American Pickers in 2011 – housed an estimated 30,000+ collectibles, including vintage gas pumps, porcelain signs, antique cash registers, antique scales and other items that caught the eye of Mel Martin, founder of the Martin Auto Museum in Phoenix.
It turns out Martin had ties to Mayer, which we were fascinated to learn. He moved to Mayer at age 16, graduated from Mayer High School in 1947, and started his first auto repair garage that same year. Over the next several decades, he got married and moved to Phoenix where he owned and operated M&M Auto Storage Pool, which was acquired by Insurance Auto Auctions in 1992.
At age 87, he’s semi-retired, and he is passionate about leaving a legacy behind with Martin Auto Museum, which is just north of Bell Road on the 1-17 access road at 17641 N. Black Canyon Highway. The non-profit museum houses more than 65 antique, classic and vintage cars along with a great collection of automobilia.
At our auction, Martin made out pretty well, purchasing several items, including a vintage Bennett Route 66 gas pump for $1,600 and a vintage miniature train railroad crossing signal for $1,500. An antique cash register hammered at $1,000 and he paid $500 for a 1938 ‘Guess Your Weight’ drug store scale.
Martin’s ultimate goal is to launch a restoring school that will teach young people the lost art of repairing and restoring antique, classic and vintage cars. He told us that he wants to make sure tuition is low and financial aid is available so students will graduate debt-free.
I think it’s pretty cool that the collectibles Martin bought were so carefully cared for by the owner of Smitty’s Antiques Museum and now they will be cared for in the same manner at the Martin Auto Museum. Be sure to visit them during their new expanded hours, Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A $10 donation is requested.
Erik Hoyer owns EJ’s Auction & Consignment in Glendale.