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Queen Street rules and the Ford Effect: Lessons from Toronto’s street-sign auction

Surplus Toronto street signs – some of them autographed by the city's notorious Mayor Rob Ford – went on auction this week. Early bids on the 105 decommissioned Toronto street signs have produced a few surprises, not to mention some lessons on the city's political and spiritual geography. All bid prices are as of Tuesday morning.

Queen Street rules: Four of the top 12 bids are for Queen Street, with Queen Street East consistently outpacing Queen Street West. The top-priced bid on Tuesday was $555 for a Queen Street East sign autographed by Mayor Rob Ford.

The Ford Effect: Mayor Ford autographed 16 of the 105 signs available. The early evidence is that the mayor's autograph adds value – or subtracts, depending on the location. Those looking for a piece of Queen Street East put a premium on the mayor's penmanship, with the autographed version at $555 versus $425 unadorned. Travel to Queen Street West, however, and the same sign is valued more highly without the autograph ($345) than with ($330). Perhaps those seeking a memento of Queen West's vanished pre-hipster glory days are less enamoured of the mayor?

Bay Street undervalued? For a street that's synonymous with money, Bay Street signs appear to be going cheap. The autographed version is bid at $365, with unsigned versions at $325 and $290. Then again, the auction lasts for 60 days, so the smart money may be in derivatives.

Here is a partial list of the street signs and the bids so far. They went up for auction on Monday, from the city's store of about 1,750 signs that have been replaced with larger, more easily read versions. In a few cases, the old signs are quite damaged, but most are in good condition. The starting bid price is $30.

For a complete list and up-to-date bid information, click here.

Top 20 signs and high bids as of Tuesday morning

StreetHigh bid as of Tuesday morning
Queen St E (autographed)555
Yonge St (autographed)505
Queen St E425
Lower Jarvis St (autographed)405
Windermere Ave 405
Sherbourne St (autographed)375
Bathurst St365
Bay St (autographed)365
Oakwood Av 360
Queen St W 345
Bathurst St (autographed)330
Queen St W (autographed)330
Bay St325
Bloor St W 315
Dundas St E (autographed)315
Indian Rd 315
Annette St 305

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