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Glamor mannequin and Max at the Wheels Museum.

Max Nordeen's Petrified Leech Saved at Auction

The Leech is safe.

The first auctions to liquidate the sprawling collection known as Max Nordeen's Wheels Museum were held at a banquet facility in his hometown of Woodhull on August 24-26th. Max passed away in December 2004. contributor Craig Thom attended two days of the "closing out" of Max's estate. Craig also agreed to help in a bid for the Petrified Leech.

The opening session attracted over a hundred customers, vying for items such as old sewing machines, vintage girlie magazines, and World's Fair memorabilia. "Everyone there seemed to be a collector or reseller of some kind," Craig said. Some objects in Max's broad collection defied description -- attendees and auctioneers had trouble identifying exactly what some things were.

Craig was able to win the bid for the legendary Petrified Leech, a hand-sized, curly white blob. The Petrified Leech was always a high point of any museum tour guided by Max. He'd pull it out of a glass display case and note the fine detail of the fossil, sold to him at a gun show by a man who bought it in Mexico.

Bidding for the leech was short but fierce. Craig: "I didn't look to see who was competing against me for the leech, since I was balancing my video camera on my knee while trying to make sure my bids were seen."

The final bid for the leech was $50.

One of the many unique aspects of the auction was a special "Erotica" session featuring Max's large collection of nudist and men's magazines. Craig said "There were only a half dozen or so people in the pervert room, but everything went in big lots and for cheap. All I got from that room was a 1955 calendar with the Art Frahm painting 'Fare Loser'."

Auctioneer Luke Lee Gaule holds one of Max's many treasures.

While some lots were a bargain, others had collectors sparring in an acquisition frenzy. "The most expensive item I saw auctioned was an old clock," said Craig. "It went for $1,500, which was amazing. It featured a man in the back of a nice car. Opening the door revealed a nude young woman with a bobbing head."

Craig himself had to pass on a lot of prime collectibles. "The mounted animal heads were a bargain, but I couldn't fit the moose in my car."

Craig hopes to return for Part 2 of the estate auction scheduled for October 1. It will feature Max's collection of cars, car memorabilia, and his spark plug display.


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