Auction company CEO and antique advertising expert Rich Penn joins Morphy Auctions in newly-created role
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Auction company CEO and antique advertising expert Rich Penn joins Morphy Auctions in newly-created role
Rich Penn, who joins Morphy Auctions in the newly-created role of Market Development Officer, and his wife Sharon Penn. Photo by Kodi Steffen.

DENVER, PA.- Dan Morphy, founder and president of Morphy Auctions, announced today that renowned Iowa auction company CEO and antique advertising specialist Rich Penn has joined Morphy’s in the newly-created role of Market Development Officer. From his base in Waterloo, Iowa, Penn will work in tandem with Morphy’s marketing team, which is led by Chief Operating Officer and Director of Marketing Les Jones, and advise on the latest technological innovations as they apply to the auction process. Additionally, he will liaise with consignors whose collections incorporate a broad range of categories, including antique advertising, toys and country store antiques; classic cars and petroliana; sports memorabilia, and other collectibles categories.

“I believe every aspect of an auction house’s operation should be customer-driven. Dan and I operate very similarly in that regard. His sales and ours cover a lot of the same ground, and importantly, our business principles are very similar,” Rich Penn said. “Both of our companies are known for their integrity and attentive customer service throughout the auction process. We do things in a first-class manner or not at all. In my new role, I especially look forward to working with clients and making sure their collections are given the marketing attention they deserve and that we deliver maximum auction results for them.”

Dan Morphy said: “I have known Rich Penn and his wife, Sharon, for almost 20 years. I have always admired, respected and, in many ways, learned from their savvy approach to marketing and advertising. Their dealings with customers, both at the buying and selling end, have always been conducted at the highest level. I am proud to say that their methods influenced the way I built my own business. I would also add that when it comes to meeting with potential consignors and crafting proposals, you won’t find a better team than Rich and Sharon Penn. Their gracious, businesslike approach, combined with their knowledge of art and antiques, creates a comfort level that clients really appreciate.”

Rich Penn earned his BA in both Marketing and Business Management from the University of Northern Iowa and his MSJ (master’s degree in Journalism) from Northwestern University. Following grad school, he joined the workforce and relocated to the Midwest’s commercial advertising hub, Chicago, where he accepted a position as account manager for major national brands at the distinguished advertising firm J Walter Thompson. In three short years, he became the youngest VP at Thompson’s Chicago office. Rich subsequently returned to Iowa, where he spent 10 years teaching marketing and advertising at the University of Northern Iowa. In 1982, he married his wife, Sharon, and also established his own boutique advertising agency. One of his first clients was Victorian Casino, a Las Vegas auction house specializing in antique gambling and coin-op machines, and antique advertising, collecting fields that had long interested Penn. (n.b., Victorian Casino was acquired by Morphy Auctions in 2014.)

In 1999, Penn and his wife, Sharon, opened Rich Penn Auctions, a collector-focused business that gained a large and loyal following and earned national acclaim along the way. In recognition of Penn’s superlative marketing skills, the National Auctioneers Association, Iowa Auctioneers Assn., and NEI Marketing & Advertising Club have honored Rich with a total of more than 50 awards. The award categories included newspaper and magazine advertising, catalogs, video, social media, website and publicity. Two were coveted Best in Show awards.

Penn describes the auction business as one that is “built on relationships.” One of those relationships has been his long friendship with Dan Morphy, whose multinational operation has had a strong involvement in the antique advertising hobby since its earliest days.

“Dan and I got into the auction business around the same time. I had written a couple of books about collectibles, including one on country store items. He found out I was out there, reached out to me, and I ended up giving him boxes of my books to sell at his Pennsylvania gallery. That’s how we got to talking and became friends,” Penn recalled.

“Dan first approached me about doing something together around 17 years ago,” Penn continued. “My eyes and ears were open, but I didn’t want to sell my company. Recently, he tried again. He had a plan that would make everyone happy, and the timing made sense.”

As part of the newly-forged agreement, Rich Penn Auctions will continue to conduct online-only timed auctions, but not their traditional cataloged auctions. Their last such auction will be held live at Penn’s Iowa venue on May 17-19. “Tentatively, we will shift our business gears this summer, following that final live gallery auction,” Penn said.

The new union will be further cemented December 6-8 in Las Vegas when Morphy’s launches its series of sales featuring Rich and Sharon Penn’s acclaimed personal collection. Penn remarked: “Morphy’s has been in our trust planning from the beginning. We knew no one else could handle the auction of our collection like Dan. But it’s happening now, and best of all, we get to see it happen!”

Dan Morphy observed: “Rich and Sharon Penn have spent many years putting together a collection that is unquestionably one of the finest of its type. It includes stellar coin-op, vending and penny arcade machines, plus exquisite antique advertising that represents many popular subcategories. Every item in their collection was handpicked with an emphasis on high condition, rarity and eye appeal. I’m excited to have the privilege of bringing this unique collection to the market and am even more excited about our future prospects with Rich Penn involved in his new key role at Morphy’s.”

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