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A lifetime of memories: Elmer's Auto and Toy Museum collection sells for $8.5 million in Wisconsin

The Duellman family's 29-year collection of classic cars, motorcycles, pedal cars, bikes and tools were part of an auction on Sept. 14-17, 2022. The toy collection remains intact.

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A 1932 Model B Ford Truck is a great advertisement for Elmer's Auto & Toy Museum near Fountain City, Wisconsin.
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FOUNTAIN CITY, Wis. — After 29 years of joyfully sharing their auto and toy collection, the Duellman family honored Elmer Duellman with the auction of a lifetime.

Elmer and his wife Bernadette shared treasures of classic cars, motorcycles, pedal cars, bikes, tools and antique toys in Elmer’s Auto & Toy Museum in Fountain City, Wis. The large collection spanned five barns on their property. After Elmer passed away in July 2019, the Duellman family continued running the museum through Labor Day 2022.

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The auction, held Sept. 14-17, 2022, celebrated Elmer’s love for the items and offered nostalgic experiences to visitors. Mecum Auction ran the days' events of 2,020 items with total sales reaching $8.5 million.

“I love people,” Elmer said in a 2012 interview with the Post Bulletin. “When they come here, it's fun sharing it with them.”

The final celebration brought bidders from around the world. Brothers Brad and Les, two of Elmer’s six children, said the auction items averaged more than anticipated.

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“We’re fulfilling our dad’s wishes to share … each piece with the rest of the world so they can make new memories,” said Brad.

From their family to the collectors, the Duellmans know the items are in good, new homes. But the auction days were “bittersweet,” Les said. The Duellmans drove the cars and motorcycles, presented at car shows and played with toys at family gatherings.

“It hits home pretty hard when you’re seeing other people buying the collection and stuff that we’ve had in our family for most of my adult life or beyond, even back into my childhood,” Les said.

The collection featured more than 100 classic cars with a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS topping the sales at $242,000. The top 10 car sales at the auction included:

  • 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS at $242,000
  • 1959 Chevrolet Impala Convertible at $121,000
  • 1966 Plymouth Hemi Belvedere I at $110,000
  • 1969 Dodge Charger 500 at $104,500
  • 1958 Chevrolet Delray at $99,000
  • 1958 Chevrolet Impala Convertible at $90,200
  • 1935 Auburn 851 Cabriolet at $88,000
  • 1966 Pontiac GTO at $84,700
  • 1964 Amphicar 770 at $77,000
  • 1957 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible at $77,000

The top 10 motorcycle sales at the auction included:

  • 1940 Indian Four at $99,000
  • 1947 Harley-Davidson FL Knucklehead at $55,000
  • 1941 Harley-Davidson ULH with Sidecar at $49,500
  • 1937 Harley-Davidson Big Twin Flathead with Sidecar at $49,500
  • 1947 Indian Chief at $38,500
  • 1921 Cleveland at $27,500
  • 1951 Harley-Davidson Panhead at $25,300
  • 1959 Indian/Royal Enfield Chief at $24,200
  • 1964 Harley-Davidson Duo-Glide Panhead at $22,000
  • 1968 Harley-Davidson FLH Electra Glide at $19,800

Elmer also featured 700 pedal cars at the museum, including a series of specially commissioned Camaro and Superbird pedal cars. The vast and quality pedal car collection is remembered in a Lincoln, Neb. Speedway museum.

“These guys in the pedal car world, they know where all these old cars are at because there’s only a few of them left, the rest of them were destroyed or recycled for the war effort during World War II. They know where there’s original ones of this and that, and Elmer had some of it, and there’s only one original left and that’s it. And it’s only available to buy it once in your lifetime,” Brad said.

The top 10 road art at the auction included:

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  • 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird Pedal Car (Lot F100) at $59,000
  • 1970 Richard Petty Plymouth Superbird Pedal Car (Lot F400) at $47,200
  • 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona Pedal Car (Lot F300) at $37,760
  • 1929 Ford Snap-On Wooden Toolbox (Lot F250) at $35,400
  • Charger Daytona Pedal Car (Lot F200) at $29,500
  • Clown Pedal Car Merry-Go-Round (Lot T300) at $28,320
  • 1927 American National Lincoln Pedal Car (Lot W377) at $25,960
  • Valvoline Motor Oil Manco Products Go-Kart (Lot T247) at $24,780
  • 1936 G-Man Cruiser Pedal Car (Lot W375) at $23,600
  • 1934 Packard 5 In 1 Pedal Car (Lot W250) at $23,600
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A vintage pedal car on display at Elmer's Auto & Toy Museum in Fountain City, Wisconsin.
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Brad said the Duellman family welcomed museum visitors from every state except Delaware and Vermont as well as each continent outside of Antarctica.

Just like their dad, Elmer, who remembered stories of every item, Brad said, “There’s memories behind almost everything we sold, from when he first purchased it or used it or had fun with it.

“We were always encouraged to use them, drive them, play with them, whatever, that was things we did as a family with our immediate family and even Dad would share it with our cousins and our uncles and aunts and stuff,” Les said.

While many memories left the driveway as sold items, as Les described, the thousands of toys in the toy collection were not sold. Brad said they’re uncertain what comes next for these items. For more information, visit the Elmer’s Auto & Toy Museum Facebook page .

“Lot of good memories in here, I tell you,” Elmer said.

“There’s memories from like the ‘73 Imperial riding in the back of it when I was 5 years old, 6 six years old when we go to Milwaukee. There’s memories of different cars we took to car shows, we learned how to detail and present a vehicle. Different toys we’d go pick them up and help our dad or move them for him,” Brad said. “There’s memories behind everything.”

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Vintage pedal cars on display at Elmer's Auto & Toy Museum in Fountain City, Wisconsin. The collection will be auctioned in September 2022.
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Rebecca Mitchell started as a Digital Content Producer for the Post Bulletin in August 2022. She specializes in enhancing online articles as well as education, feature and health reporting.
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