Sharkey's Auction draws a crowd

For Carson City native Sharon Nickson, sitting inside Reno's Anchor Auction House on Friday was better than a trip to Disneyland.

The walls of the brick building were layered in paintings -- from a Mona Lisa reprint to nudes to gamblers -- tin advertising signs and circus posters. Antique furniture, pianos, mixed with gaming tables and tables full of colorful glassware. Every last item, until a few months ago, adorned the walls and halls of Sharkey's Casino in Gardnerville.

"I haven't been able to get the smile off my face since I came to the preview," Nickson said. "I just love everything they have here. I feel like a kid in Disneyland."

Nickson was feeling lucky Friday, already having spent $600 on various items including $100 for a photo of Harry Truman. The photo will match perfectly with Truman books she has at her Reno antique shop. She's hoping to pick up one of Sharkey's custom-made dining room tables with clear tops protecting collections of gaming memorabilia.

"It was good to see it all together before it disappears into everybody's collections," Nickson said of the collection.

From California to New York, more than 400 people crowded Anchor Auction hoping for a great deal and pieces of Sharkey's history. Thousands of antiques and knickknacks will be sold by Sunday evening in 1,650 lots.

"I hope some of these people run out of money pretty soon," quipped Bob Peri, of Reno, who came to the auction more as a spectator than a buyer.

David Faulkner, of Sparks, bid successfully for a $140 World War II era ship sextant. There weren't many of them made, he said, recounting the history of the sea navigation tool, and were last used on ships and airplanes in WWII. He hadn't planned to buy the sextant. He had his eye on an antique commode on which he would probably have to wait all day to bid.

"What they've got here is a bunch of one-of-a-kind stuff," Faulkner said. "Your not going to duplicate it."

Sitting in the back row, advertising copywriter Bob Veder of Yonkers, N.Y., read a book while waiting for the first item to pique his interest to hit the auction block. He stopped bidding around $450 for a lithograph of the Lusitania that sold for somewhere around $540.

An antique dealer in his spare time, Veder said some of Sharkey's boxing memorabilia and saddles will garner a hefty price. Veder said he will sit through the auction for the next three days and could spend anywhere from nothing to $10,000.

"It's very difficult to find stuff in the antique business because of collectors and all the books," he said. "Even if you get one piece, it's worth coming."

Craig Hamilton, of Long Island, N.Y., paced around the back room of the auction house, looking carefully at Sharkey's boxing memorabilia.

He pointed out one photo of the 1910 Jeffries/Johnson "fight of the century," he said, that could be worth thousands. Hamilton, who manages prize fighters, said he didn't necessarily have a budget but could spend up to $30,000 on some of the items ranging from fight bells to boxing gloves to posters from all eras.

Diane Cooper and Ann Johnson, antique dealers from Roseville, Calif., came hoping for some of the fine glassware Sharkey's once used. They called the collection "overwhelming.

"It's hard to imagine having never been at Sharkey's what it must have looked like," Cooper said. "It had to have been an outstanding place. There are things from one extreme to the other: fine china to tin advertising."

Anchor Auctions manager Bill Fileger said he expects the auction to draw thousands through Sunday. The auction house has been in Reno for two years, and this is its biggest collection.

"This is stuff that just doesn't come along," Fileger said.

There is a 10 percent buyers' premium and a $50 registration fee, which is applied toward purchases.


What: Sharkey's Auction

Where: Anchor Auctions, 601 E. Fourth St. Reno

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Sunday

Cost: $50 registration to bid

For information, call 827-1801


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