Antiques

John Coker’s Oct. 29-30 no-reserve auction features two fresh, long-held collections of toys, lunchboxes and folk art

October 5th, 2011 by

Beany and Cecil vinyl lunch kit. John W. Coker Auctions image.

NEW MARKET, Tenn. – John W. Coker is a Tennessee auctioneer better known for his sales of fine and decorative art, but when the opportunity arose to handle two outstanding toy and lunchbox collections – each from a collector of 40+ years – he jumped at the chance. More than 100 cardboard boxes later, Coker knew he had the makings of a terrific auction, and one that toy collectors “would go crazy over.”

 

Coker’s 1,000-lot Oct. 29-30 event, which will be held at the company’s gallery near Knoxville, is 100% unreserved. “Whatever the high bid is, that’s what the toy, lunchbox or folk art item will sell for,” Coker said.

 

The Saturday, Oct. 29 session, which commences at 10 a.m. Eastern time, contains more than 450 lots of toys and folk art from the collection of a prominent Eastern Tennessee businessman who began collecting in the 1950s. Many of the toys were displayed at the consignor’s place of business; he always bought and never sold.

Smith-Miller pressed-steel and wood Coca-Cola delivery truck, complete with wood Coke crates. John W. Coker Auctions image.

 

A featured highlight is the vast collection of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola advertising toys, many of them rare, early examples pictured in Petretti’s Coca-Cola Collectibles Price Guide. “There are more than 100 Coca-Cola toys, and all are different,” said Coker. “They’re across the board in terms of manufacturers – Metalcraft, Smith-Miller, Buddy ‘L’ – and there are many from foreign countries, including Spain (Paya), Germany, Mexico and Italy. There are also special-edition Christmas productions and wooden ones made during World War II. There are many that I have never seen before.”

 

Boxed Coca-Cola truck made for the Italian market. John W. Coker Auctions image.

The consignor recalled that the first toy he ever owned was a Metalcraft Shell Oil truck complete with wood barrels. “My daddy paid only one dollar – maybe less – for that toy. It made me appreciate the unusual, and that followed through in my collecting,” he said. The truck is included in the auction inventory.

 

The owner of the toys commented that the advertising trucks in the collection have never been polished, waxed or restored. “I kept them as original as possible, in ‘as-found’ condition,” he said. “Most of them have 85% or more of their original paint.”

 

The consignor’s brother-in-law once worked for Lionel, and through that connection, the collector was able to acquire several coveted train sets, including a rare Coca-Cola set and another branded for Ford Motor Co. that was available only to employees.

 

Handmade tableau consisting of a farmhouse, two-story barn, outbuildings, split-rail fence and dozens of miniature accessories. John W. Coker Auctions image.

Additionally, there are die-cast advertising toys, two matchstick ships and a carved Noah’s Ark with figures. A rustic log farmhouse that took 10 years to make is so highly detailed, it even includes a gun over the mantel and a dog on the porch. It opens up and is accompanied by many additional accessories and outbuildings.

 

The consignor explained that many of his best pieces purchased over some 40 years came from Northern or Eastern dealers who traveled to the Mt. Dora show in Florida to escape winter weather. “They would come to sell, then they’d go fishing. They knew what I wanted and would bring along their best for me,” he said.

 

Lanier Meaders face jug, from a collection of Southern pottery. John W. Coker Auctions image.

The consignor also built a sizable collection of folk art and unusual advertising items. The auction will include a Medders family stoneware vase adorned with a snake, leaves and grapes; and 20-25 face jugs, including around five from the fabled Medders family of potters. Other noteworthy items include two Nipper ‘His Master’s Voice’ chalk figures, and a 6-ft.-high Leland McNamee’s Minstrels poster.

 

The Sunday, Oct. 30 session features approximately 360 lunchboxes, 30+ loose Thermoses – some quite scarce and desirable – and box lots of Thermoses and lids.

 

The lunchbox collection came from the estate of a man who collected from the time he was 15 until the day of his passing last fall. “His collection reflected pleasant memories of the lunches his mother packed for him when he was a boy,” Coker said. “His family owned a grocery store that made local deliveries, and his mother, who worked at the store, was an excellent cook. She would fix unbelievable sandwiches for the children, and opening their lunchboxes at school each day was an eagerly anticipated event.”

 

Captain Kangaroo lunchbox and Thermos. John W. Coker Auctions image.

In his adult life, the collector traveled to shows far and wide, searching for lunchboxes. He bought metal, vinyl and plastic lunchboxes; and brunch bags, and he favored those that depicted robots/space, Western scenes and TV series of the 1950s and ’60s.

 

“There are many very rare lunchboxes in this collection, and they’re in absolutely beautiful condition,” said Coker. Among the highlights: Captain Kangaroo, Beany and Cecil, three or four Tom Corbett Space Cadet boxes in baby blue and red; five different Roy Rogers lunchboxes and many coveted dome-tops, including a Porky Pig model. An especially nice brunch bag promotes Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. It is finished in bright yellow and black, and emblazoned with the show’s best-known catch phrases.

 

1954 ADCO metal Superman vs. the robot lunchbox. John W. Coker Auctions image.

The rarest of all lunchboxes in the sale is the 1954 ADCO metal Superman box depicting the Man of Steel fighting an evil robot with eyes that can ignite anything in their path. With its colorful graphics and superhero theme, it is considered the ultimate prize to lunchbox collectors.

 

“There is so much to see in this sale. If I were a collector of toys or lunchboxes, I would make it my mission to view the contents of these collections, either in person or online,” said Coker. “Everyone loves fresh collections, and these are two of the freshest.”

 

John W. Coker’s Oct. 29-30 auction will take place at the Coker gallery at 1511 W. Hwy. 11 East in New Market, TN 37820. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com. Tel. 865-475-5163, e-mail john@antiquesonline.com. Visit Coker’s online at www.antiquesonline.com.

Sotheby’s New York – Prints

October 4th, 2011 by

Sotheby’s Print Department is pleased to present our auction of American, Modern and Contemporary Prints on October 27th and 28th. We will be offering 14 James McNeill Whistler prints from a Private Collection, a wonderful group which includes the 1879 etching Nocturne. The selection of Picasso prints is highlighted by two large female portraits; the lithograph Figure au Corsage Rayé and the linoleum cut Portrait de Jacqueline. Within the Contemporary portion of the sale you will find Chuck Close’s large scale pressed paper pulp portrait of Georgia, a very fresh impression of Jasper Johns Painting with Two Balls and Andy Warhol’s iconic Ads portfolio, still in the original box.

Sotheby’s New York – Important Contemporary Prints from an American Collection

October 4th, 2011 by

We are very pleased to present our first-ever evening sale of prints, Important Contemporary Prints from an American Collection, to be held on October 27th at 6 PM. The 37 lots include six complete Warhol portfolios purchased directly from the artist’s studio, including Campbell’s Soup I, Mao and Myths.  Other highlights comprise iconic images by Jasper Johns, such as False Start and the Seasons set, four examples from Roy Lichtenstein’s Reflections series and all five of Robert Rauschenberg’s Bellini prints from the late 1980s.

Phillips de Pury – The World of Muriel Brandolini

October 4th, 2011 by

New York– Phillips de Pury & Company announce ‘The World of Muriel Brandolini’, an interiors auction celebrating the life and work of decorator Muriel Brandolini. A blaze of color on the fall calendar, Brandolini’s sale will include works from her wide-ranging collection of decorative arts, contemporary design and fine art, as well as examples of her own signature line of furniture.

Sotheby’s Milan – Modern and Contemporary Art

September 29th, 2011 by

This autumn the Modern and Contemporary Art sale in Milan shows the enduring appeal of 20th Century Italian art in two lavish catalogues.

One volume is entirely devoted to another important section of the Private Collection titled Italian Identity, successfully presented in London this October. Sotheby’s is delighted to offer this new segment, composed of nearly 60 lots, which contains many ground-breaking works by early 20th century Italian masters like Giacomo Balla and Arturo Martini which lead into Modern masterpieces by Giorgio de Chirico, Massimo Campigli and Mario Sironi.

Canto patriottico by Giacomo Balla is a vibrant canvas where the iconic Italian flag colours are combined together with a chromatic and synthetic study of shape, lyrically recalling the interventionist protest and marches which agitated the country in 1915.

Phillips de Pury London – Contemporary Art Auctions

September 29th, 2011 by

Contemporary Art Evening Sale Oct. 12th and Contemporary Art Day Sale Oct. 13th

Sotheby’s Paris – Photographies – Sale Announcement

September 29th, 2011 by

Sotheby’s prestigious November sale, as always coinciding with Paris Photo, will offer our clients a range of exquisite photographs from all artistic eras. Beginning with “primitive” photography and a superb daguerreotype by Vincent Chevalier dated 1841, the November sale traditionally has its focus on classical vintage photography. This section is headed by exceptional works by Leni Riefenstahl and her former cameraman, the modernist photographer Willy Zielke. Of equal importance are the light-hearted snap-shots by Jacques-Henri Lartigue, as well as surrealist photographs by Dora Maar, Man Ray, Raoul Ubac and Manuel Alvarez Bravo.

Sotheby’s London – 20th Century Italian Art Including Italian Identity – an Important Private Collection

September 28th, 2011 by

One of the most exciting events in the auction calendar since 1999, the sale of 20th Century Italian Art presents a strong selection of works by artists ranging from Marino Marini and Gino Severini to Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana.

Examples of Modernism include a group of superlative works from a distinguished private New York collection.

Testament to the collector’s passion for Italian art is the superb Marini bronze Cavaliere which was a gift from Eric Estorick and the important Severini Natura morta con arance of 1917 which documents the artist’s foray into Cubism and demonstrates his experiments with sand, colour and flattened form.

The sale also includes Severini’s Train arrivant à Paris, one of the most important works on paper by the artist to come to the market in decades, the work is closely related to the painting of the same subject in the Tate Gallery; whilst Morandi is represented by a tranquil still life which celebrates nuance and stillness.

Sotheby’s – Your Art World: A Documentary Series Presented By Sotheby’s

September 28th, 2011 by

Sotheby’s London – Important Russian Art

September 28th, 2011 by

The forthcoming Russian Paintings sales in London will take place on the evening of November 28 and during the day on November 29. Highlights from the 19th century include an large moonlit view of St Petersburg by Alexei Bogoliubov at £400,000-600,000, a charming view of haystacks by Shishkin from a Danish private collection at £250,000-350,000 and one of the finest boyarina portraits by Konstantin Makovsky to be sold in recent years valued at £150,000 – 250,000. The early 20th century is represented by a rare 1914 work by Nikolai Roerich at £400,000-600,000, and a 1916 still life of Tatar artefacts by Petr Konchalovsky formerly in the collection of the art historian Waldemar George estimated at £500,000-700,000. We are delighted also to be offering high-calibre paintings by Nikolai Tarkhoff, Sergei Vinogradov, Konstantin Gorbatov, Dmitry Stelletsky and Mstislav Dobuzhinsky among others.

We are inviting consignments for our forthcoming sales. Should you wish to receive a complimentary valuation, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist team at +44 (0)207 293 5570.