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Knott’s Berry Farm Auction of Historic Items


For the first time since Knott’s Berry Farm opened in 1940, it's holding a special public auction of historic items on Friday, March 31 by Heritage Auctions. All of the items come directly from the park, which Walter Knott started in the 1940s after he and his family started selling to the public harvested berries from a small roadside stand located 22 miles south of Los Angeles on California State Highway 39.

Nearly 225 lots of rare signs, props and artwork celebrating its Ghost Town attraction are on offer as well as items from the past 75 years of the park. 

"The original Knott’s family Ghost Town turns 75 years old this year, " said Eric Bradley of Heritage Auctions. "It’s an important anniversary so the park is thinking outside the box: why not open the archives for the fans. Many of the items had not been used in exhibits in some time so the park thought it would be a great opportunity for those who visited the Ghost Town exhibit back in the day to own a piece of the history."

A special presentation of the Knott’s Berry Farm Archives kicks off with a public viewing on Thursday, March 30 with the auction day set for Friday, March 31 at the park, at 8039 Beach Boulevard in Buena Park. You can view the action items here.

“This auction showcases the history of Knott’s Berry Farm with rare items from Ghost Town, the famous Chicken Restaurant, Knott’s Scary Farm, and even the fan favorite, Knott’s Bear-y Tales Ride,” said Jim Lentz, Heritage Auctions’ Director of Animation.

Highlights include rare Ghost Town memorabilia, including California or Bust Ghost Town panorama painting, circa 1940s-50s (est. $25,000) by artist Paul von Klieben, who worked directly with Walter Knott as his primary art director during the early years of the park; the two collaborated on the 151-inch-by-57-inch mural of a wagon train that became synonymous with the attraction. Additional von Klieben artworks include Under Attack (est. $5,000) a circa 1940s-50s painting for the Ghost Town exhibit; Through the Desert (est. $5,000) and On Schedule, from 1953 (est. $15,000).

Klieben’s famed 1941 Jesus, The Transfiguration, 1941 (est.  $25,000) –  a fluorescent portrait of Jesus Christ on heavy glass that used a black light set-up to make it appear as if Christ's eyes were opening.

The auction also offers several vehicles such as the classic 1800s antique Knott’s park-displayed covered wagon (est. $5,000); a 1940 Jennie KI steam-powered locomotive (est. $15,000); a 1965 “tricked out” Monster Halloween Haunt 1965 Hearse (est. $10,000); a 1940s Seagrave-type Fire Engine (est. $5,000) and a 1919 Model T car purchased by Walter Knott in 1956 for the Ghost Town display, (est. $5,000).

Familiar signage on offer ranges from a 1954 "Haunted Shack" Ghost Town Sign (est. $2,500) to a 1960 Calico Mine Ride sign from the first major ride at the park (est. $2,500).

The sale has one of the largest coin-operated antique player pianos and coin-operated games to come to market in recent memory. Props include a rare games, such as a 1910 Washington Scale Caille Bros. coin-op machine (est. $5,000), a selection of antique player pianos, such as a 1910 Creamona coin op Player Piano (est. $5,000) and standing music boxes, on offer are early 20th century carnival games, strength testers and more.

Contemporary props include an Evil Jack in a Box Scary Farm prop (est. $1,000) and Scary Farm canvas paintings as well as animatronic bears and signs from Knott’s Bear-y Tales Ride from 1975 (est. $1,000).

Memorable lots include, but are not limited to:

Baldwin Wagon Train Under Attack by H. H. Cross, depicting E.J. “Lucky” Baldwin’s first-hand account of his caravan being attacked by American Indians as seen in the Ghost Town attraction (est. $25,000).

Chief Rain in the Face painting by von Kleiben from the Buffalo Steak House (est. $2,500).

Butterfield Stage Coach Park Original Poster Art by Bob Bates (est. $2,500).

The Barn at Knott's Berry Farm is at 7860 Western Ave., in Buena Park.

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