The Milhous Collection of classic cars and mechanical instruments


"Personal, whimsical, brilliant..."

These are the words David Redden, the vice chairman of Sotheby's, uses to describe the famed Milhous Collection, which comes to auction in Florida on February 24 and 25.

And, while Redden has a vested interest in the sale (it is being conducted by Sotheby's in conjunction with car auctioneer RM Auctions), we are inclined to agree.

Amassed over the past 50 years by Florida-based brothers Bob and Paul Milhous, the Milhous Collection reflects a lifelong interest and fascination in a variety of mechanical and Americana memorabilia items.

Bob is the classic car fanatic.

His purchase of a 1934 Packard Eight Convertible Victoria sucked him into the classic car world.

It won 'Best of Show' at the 1976 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and has since been joined in the collection by more than 30 other show stoppers, including an original 1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Seven-Passenger Roi des Belges.

Assorted petroliana will accompany the various cars. This includes nostalgic signs, gas pumps and even a mock-up of a Route 66 gas station.

Milhous Collection
This rare 1920s carousel has a $1.5m high-end estimate

And while Bob was peering under bonnets, his brother Paul was amassing a fine collection of mechanical musical artefacts.

It began with Paul's 1959 purchase of a player piano, and mushroomed into an assemblage of more than 100 mechanical musical instruments, including a Weber Maesto orchestrion - a huge $1m valued instrument, one of only six ever made, that comprises a Feurich piano, drums and xylophone.

Meanwhile, an impressive 1920s carousel (pictured) has been, for many, the highlight of a trip to the Milhous's private Florida museum.

The museum is testament to the brothers' meticulous collecting philosophy. Items were handpicked from around the world, with an emphasis on the rarest and most desirable examples produced by the industry's most prominent names.

But there is more to the collection than just cars, organs and children's rides...

Hall, town and street clocks made by celebrated manufacturers such as Howard and Black, Seth Thomas and Starr & Frost all feature; as do Tiffany lamps, late 19th century firearms, furniture and a range of impressive artworks.

"The Milhous Collection is a whirling circus of magical music-making machines, gleaming motor cars and the beloved paraphernalia of small town life in olden days," says Redden.

A travelling exhibition featuring lots from the forthcoming auction runs at Sotheby's New York from January 3 to 5.


Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock