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Howard Blank puts prized collection up for auction

Zoltar from the movie Big is one of the items up for bidding in Howard Blank
Zoltar from the movie Big is one of the items up for bidding in Howard Blank's auction.
— image credit:

For old movie buffs, an auction this weekend is a collector's dream.

A fan of Elvis Presley? The pedicab he used in the filming of the 1963 musical It Happened at the World's Fair is now available to the highest bidder.

Remember that eerie fortune-telling machine, Zoltar, from the start of the movie Big starring Tom Hanks, about a kid that grows up overnight? You can have it divine your future, if the price is right.

A 471-item auction that starts Saturday morning and continues Sunday at Able Auctions is part of the massive collection belonging to Howard Blank, a former vice president at Great Canadian Gaming Corporation and spokesperson at River Rock.

He's in the midst of downsizing, and there simply isn't enough space for the fruits of decades worth of collecting.

Blank began collecting at the age of 10, when he volunteered at a movie theatre, doing everything from helping behind the soda fountain to cleaning and running cash. In return for his efforts, Blank was allowed to take home old movie posters—Jaws, To Kill a Mockinbird—many of which are now available.

"Half didn't see the light of day," Blank said. "Let others enjoy it."

Blank originally planned to sell off the items to help fund the healthcare for his ailing father. But his dad has since passed away, and the money may be put aside to care for his elderly mom in the future.

Much of his collection was gathered during the period he worked in the film and television industry through the 1990s.

The pedi-cab Elvis rode in, has already drawn interest from Graceland and the Electric Museum in Seattle, Blank said.

There's also plenty for pop culture and music lovers, from vintage Coca-Cola vending machines to dozens of signed guitars—including a BB King signed Gibson Custom Lucille guitar—and artwork including a Steve Kaufman blazer with drawn pop art including Marilyn Monroe, Mickey Mouse and Superman, and an original John Lennon/Yoko Ono hand-drawn sketch that both signed during their love-in for peace in Montreal in 1969.

Blank said he originally collected all the items, thinking: "This will be worth something some day."

Now he's simply hoping the pieces will go to good homes.

To view the auction, visit ableauctions.ca and click on the Howard Blank Collection.

The auction will be held at 1055 Vernon Dr. in Vancouver.

A preview of the items will be held today (Friday) from noon to 6 p.m., and from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The auction commences at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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