A sign of the times for Rob Ford? Queen St. E. sign with mayor's signature holds highest bid
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Mayor Rob Ford’s signature is upping the ante on the city’s decommissioned street signs, which went on auction this week.
Only a day into the 60-day sale, bids were as high as $550 for a Queen St. E. sign, one of 16 autographed by the embattled mayor, who printed his name in a gold-coloured Sharpie.
The amount far surpassed the opening bid of $30 set by city council. Bids on another 89 signs, without signatures, have also been brisk, and by Wednesday the city had already raised more than $20,000.
The amount is 12 times what the city would have received if it had gone the usual route of scrapping the metal, which would have fetched $15 per sign.
“I didn’t think (the bids) would be that high,” said Myles Currie, director of transportation services, “but the city is very large. People have an interest in it whether it’s the street they grew up on or worked on. Or because it’s an interesting street name.”
City officials announced more than a year ago that they were selling off 1,750 signs, a first for Toronto. About 3,500 residents sent emails expressing a wish to buy a piece of the city’s history.
Some of the signs date back 50 years and are in varying states of disrepair.
“A lot of them are very old and a lot of them didn’t provide any reflective quality, so you couldn’t see the sign at night,” said Currie.
More signs will be added to the website each week, remaining there for 60 days.
The auction company, Platinum Liquidations, is looking for more Toronto personalities to add their John Hancocks to the next batch of signs up for auction, said the company’s general manager, John Farquharson. The liquidator has been in the auction business for 20 years and sells items seized by the Toronto and York Regional police forces.
“As the signs come in — let’s say we get Markham St. — maybe we’ll approach David Mirvish,” said company president Steven Wagman. “We want high-profile Toronto celebrities,” he said. “Our interest is just to try to maximize the revenues for the city.”
The street signs with Ford’s signature come with an 8-by-10-inch glossy photo of the mayor sitting at a desk with pen in hand, writing his name.
To place bids, participates have to register with the website, but they don’t need a credit card. The signs can be picked up and paid for in person, said Farquharson. It’s a system also used during the Toronto police auctions, so that people who can only pay with cash or Interac aren’t excluded.
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