January 4, 2023
When the Mississippi-River-town of Guttenberg, Iowa’s renowned and eccentric barber, Roger Zach passed away in 2021, he left behind a lifetime of a barbering legacy, and neither he, nor his hair, will be forgotten.
Locals knew him as Mr. Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Hair Salon, and they remember him for his generosity, humor and nationally recognized barbering skills. But they also remember his fanciful salon ablaze in red patterned-berber carpeting, red flocked wallpaper, and gold, ornate mirrors reflecting the many hairpieces and wigs he had on display and the mannequins who wore them. They remember the large, orange modernist salon mirror with matching shelves and the barber light that together made a unique salon experience.
In the 1970s, Mr. Rogers not only cut and styled hair for people from miles around, he sold custom toupees and wigs all over the country while teaching cutting and styling techniques. He always kept his dark beard trimmed in rhythmic waves of perfection, moustacheless to emphasize the horizon. He was a major distributor of Eva Gabor International, a line of wigs styled from the looks of the famous actress. At big-city hair trade shows, Mr. Rogers’ humor, energy and love of what he did was evident, his daughter, Kelley recalled fondly. “One of his favorite show stoppers was him taking off his own hairpiece and throwing it at someone!”
For vintage collectors, it’s stories like this and personality behind objects that add to their appeal. Marilyn Monroe’s eyeliner pencil from the 1950s would be worth only a very small fraction of what it went for in December at auction if the buyer didn’t know where it came from or that it was the one Marilyn used to draw her beauty mark. The provenance, or record of ownership, can mean everything. Why is it special? Because of its history.
Owner of the Elkader Auction House, Kyana Taillon, who has been hired to auction the remaining contents of Mr. Roger’s shop, says she likes to share the story of ownership with buyers when the information is available and says it’s easier to share that story with people all over the world in the age of the internet. “Being able to give people a visual of the item in another context can add to the value of things, and I don’t mean just monetarily,” she said. “It can add value to the buyer on a personal-connection level because it adds interest and they can identify with it more. As far as Mr. Rogers is concerned, I think buyers are going to love this guy!”
Even for someone who has never met Mr. Rogers, they might appreciate knowing where it came from and whose energy went into it. And Mr. Rogers is a personality, and hair, to remember.
“As an auction lover, I love this idea of online, local auctions,” said Kelley. “And Kyana’s marketing is really fun! I regret we weren’t able to do a live auction at the time due to the pandemic, but appreciate the opportunity to finally have the sale done.”
The auction for Mr. Roger’s Hair Salon takes place here through Thursday, January 12 and includes furniture, supplies & decor including five vintage mannequin heads and 16 Eva Gabor wigs.