Morphy’s June 1 auction a high-quality mix of antique advertising, coin-op machines and occupational shaving mugs from private collections

May 31st, 2013 by

Rover 1-cent Puss ‘N’ Boots fortune teller could reach $25,000-$30,000

DENVER, Pa. – Morphy’s is like a second home to antique advertising collectors, who regard the central Pennsylvania company’s auctions as a premier source of fresh-to-market pieces from long-held collections. On June 1st, Morphy’s will conduct a 537-lot specialty sale comprised exclusively of antique advertising, coin-op and penny arcade machines; and rare occupational shaving mugs. In keeping with their new, across-the-board policy, the auction will begin at 9 a.m. Eastern Time.

Buffalo Pepsin Gum 1-cent vending machine with brass marquee. Est. $5,000-$8,000. Morphy Auctions image.


The session will open with an exceptional single-owner collection of 150+ shaving mugs that includes several exciting rarities. Lot 29 depicts two men bowling and has an estimate of $1,500-$2,500; while Lot 122 features the image of an early airplane whose pilot wears duster-type goggles, est. $2,500-$3,000. An elusive stock market-related mug entered as Lot 89 is emblazoned with the image of a commodities broker writing numbers on a chalkboard. Although estimated at $2,500-$4,000, it “could go considerably higher,” according to Morphy Auctions CEO Dan Morphy. “Veteran collectors who’ve looked at it say it’s one of the best they’ve ever seen,” Morphy noted.


More than 150 gambling, vending and penny arcade machines lead the lineup of coin-operated amusements. Lot 189, a Buffalo Pepsin Gum vendor is expected to make $5,000-$8,000; while Lot 223, a Caille Centaur upright slot machine in beautiful condition could reach $25,000-$30,000. Lot 240, an original Mills 5-cent Frank Polk figural cowboy slot machine, is entered with a $20,000-$25,000 estimate. Polk produced only 70 original “cowboys,” the one in Morphy’s June 1 auction being one of them.


Other high-end machines include Lot 260, a Bally Reliance 5-cent dice machine, est. $8,000-$12,000; and Lot 295, a Rover 1-cent Puss ‘N’ Boots fortune teller machine, complete with 100 fortune cards, est. $25,000-$30,000. A highly desirable musical novelty of yesteryear, Lot 326 is a Wurlitzer Model 850 “Peacock” jukebox. Extremely rare and widely regarded as one of Wurlitzer’s most exquisite and colorful productions, it is estimated at $15,000-$18,000.


Next up will be 150+ lots of antique advertising. Lot 484, a circa-1910 to 1920 Phoenix Pure Paint curved porcelain corner sign, features the image of a Native-American boy. It is extremely scarce, as reflected in its presale estimate of $10,000-$15,000. Lot 500, a self-framed tin sign advertising Frazer Axle Grease, features a remarkable image of two horse-drawn wagons whose drivers are engaged in a discussion about a wheel problem. Estimate $4,000-$6,000.


The ever-popular Mr. Peanut will make an appearance in Lot 512, in the form of a life-size (75-inch-tall) papier-mache statue. The circa-1920s three-dimensional figure came from a Canadian collection and could bring $8,000-$12,000 on auction day.


Mills 5-cent Dewey musical upright slot machine, working order with excellent repertoire of tunes. Est. $15,000-$18,000. Morphy Auctions image.

More than 100 tip trays, most in near-mint-plus condition, have come to Morphy’s from a single-owner collection. Standouts include Lot 346, a tip tray for J. Hupfel Brewing Co., est. $400-$800; and Lot 350, an example that advertises Rienzi Beer in bottles, est. $300-$600.


A fine selection of railroad-themed photos includes Lot 518, a litho print dated 1858 that depicts Boston Railroad Locomotive Works builders. The 29 x 42in print is estimated at $5,000-$8,000. Another highlight is Lot 522, a ruby ambrotype photo of a locomotive, est. $800-$1,200.


“Our advertising sales are always enjoyable,” said Dan Morphy. “Collectors appreciate the fact that we’re very particular about the condition and quality of pieces accepted for consignment, and those who cannot bid in person never have to worry about our descriptions and condition reports. They know they can trust them one hundred percent.”


Morphy’s Saturday, June 1 auction of antique advertising, coin-op machines and occupational shaving mugs will commence at 9 a.m. Eastern Time. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live or


Morphy Auctions is located at 2000 N. Reading Rd., Denver, PA 17517. For additional information, call 717-335-3435 or e-mail View the fully illustrated catalog online at or

Material Culture To Rekindle “Spirits…” With 10/14 Event Featuring Prince Twins Seven-Seven Painting

October 1st, 2012 by

PHILADELPHIA – An important artwork by Prince Twins Seven-Seven (Nigerian, 1944-2011) not only co-headlines Material Culture’s 450-lot Oct. 14 auction, it also inspired the event’s title: “The Spirits of My Reincarnation Brothers and Sisters.”

Deeply mystical and immediately identifiable, the works of Prince Twins Seven-Seven have spurred a new level of interest in the marketplace since Material Culture offered several exciting multimedia paintings by the artist in their May 5 auction debut. The self-taught Prince Twins Seven-Seven expressed his boundless imagination in themes that blended esoteric imagery with a vibrant, traditional West African color palette. The 65 by 58-inch batik dye, watercolor, acrylic and oil-on-cloth painting featured in Material Culture’s Oct. 14 sale was purchased directly from the artist in 2007 and is one of seven of his works entered in the sale. It is expected to realize $5,000-$7,000.

Other self-taught artists represented in the October offering include Vojislav Jakic, Kwame Akoto a k a Almighty God, Purvis Young and Felipe Jesus Consalvos, a Cuban-American (1891-1960) who worked as a cigar roller but whose natural talent as an artist was not widely known until after his death. Consalvos created visually stunning modernist collages that incorporate cigar bands and cigar-box paper with photographs, postage stamps and magazine images. His mixed-media collage titled “Let Dreams Come True” was created around the second quarter of the 20th century. It measures 10 x 8 inches (15¾ x 13¾ inches framed) and comes with provenance from the Fleisher/Ollman Gallery. Estimate: $1,500-$2,000.

The auction will showcase a selection of items from the Bill Liske collection of early Chinese and Tibetan textiles, carpets and ethnographic artworks. Material Culture’s first offering of articles from the Liske collection – auctioned on May 26 – was enthusiastically received, said owner George Jevremovic, a cultural arts dealer of 30+ years.

“The Liske collection is special because it reflects the impeccable eye of a collector who lived and worked as a mountaineering guide in the Himalayan region for three decades. Textile dealers in the area taught him how to identify pieces that were genuinely exceptional,” said Jevremovic.

Liske’s expertly chosen collection has appeared at the History Museum in Denver, the Krimsa Gallery in San Francisco, the Shaver-Ramsey Gallery in Denver, and in Hali magazine.

A premier artwork in the Liske collection is a powerfully rendered early Thangka scroll painting depicting the deific reincarnation known as Vajra Varahi in Sanskrit and Dorje Pakmo in Tibetan. Dating to 14th-16th century Tibet, it is valued at $3,000-$4,000.

Another auction highlight is the Michaelian Meshed (31 feet by 47 feet), a circa-1900 Persian carpet originally custom-woven for the prestigious Union League Club in New York City. It remained in the club for decades until its purchase in the 1950s by Frank Michaelian of Michaelian and Kohlberg. Suitable for a discriminating owner with a palatial space, it will be offered for sale publicly for the first time in its history on Oct. 14, with an auction estimate of $60,000-$90,000.

An outstanding 19th-century Syrian silk and gold judge’s tunic from the collection of Samy and Sara Rabinovic, Philadelphia, was the blue-ribbon exhibition winner at the 1996 International Conference on Oriental Carpets, and is expected to fetch $3,000-$4,000. Also up for auction is a rare pre-Columbian funerary headband made with a knotted-pile technique, valued at $1,000-$1,500; and a 19th-century Tibtetan or Bhutanese bull-headed Buddhist dance mask of meditational deity Yamantaka. The mask’s vivid red hue was achieved by applying pigment to a papier-mâché of laurel or mulberry. Estimate: $3,000-$4,000.

Other categories of artifacts include an outstanding group of 17th-18th century Mughal columns and arches from northern India, 16th- to 19th-century Ottoman, Central Asian, Asian, African, Continental and pre-Columbian textiles, 17th-19th century Oriental Carpets, African, Himalayan and Oceanic Tribal Arts, antiquities from the Near East, Americas and Asia; 18th- to 20th-century folk art from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas; and 100+ lots of vintage Navajo jewelry from a private Pennsylvania collection assembled in the 1970s.

“From the beginning it has been our goal to present pieces of diverse origin that would present collecting opportunities for every level of buyer, from beginners to advanced collectors and interior designers. In addition, we take the position that it is better to have around 400 items of very good to excellent quality – from consignors who have realistic expectations – than to create a more-specialized sale with a few stars and lots of filler,” said Jevremovic, explaining his company’s mission.

“This is an age in which corporate auction departments seek to maximize their bottom lines with million-plus-dollar items or high-profile sales that have more to do with celebrity and fashion than quality or connoisseurship. We believe some of the best collecting opportunities – particularly for younger buyers worldwide – exist in the areas we are presenting in our October 14th sale: self-taught, folk, ethnographic, decorative and traditional arts,” Jevremovic said.

Material Culture’s Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012 auction will commence at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. Preview: Oct. 10-12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Oct. 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The gallery is located at 4700 Wissahickon Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19144. All forms of bidding will be available, including phone, absentee or Internet live bidding through For additional information on any lot in the sale, email or call 215-438-4700. Visit the company online at

Collecting and Adorning Putti’s From Nymphenburg Porcelains Studios

September 12th, 2012 by

What are Putti … Putti in art are plump male children, usually nude and winged that one often sees in Renaissance, Mannerist, Baroque and Rococo art. These come to mind with the works of Franz Anton Bustelli and were most likely originally created to decorate the table in the “Stone Hall” at Schloss Nymphenburgi. The hall’s ceiling painting shows the nymph Flora surrounded by important gods as befit her standing, e.g. Mercury, Jupiter and Juno. Bustelli’s children, clothed as Ovidian gods, may be regarded as allegoric.

Franz Anton Bustelli (April 12, 1723 – April 18, 1763) was a Swiss-born German modeller for the Bavarian Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory from 1754 to his death in 1763. He is widely regarded as the finest modeller of porcelain in the Rococo style: “if the art of European porcelain finds its most perfect expression in the rococo style, so the style finds its most perfect expression in the work of Bustelli.”


From 1754 to today these little Putti or Cherubs, are still produced on the designs of Anton Bustelli in white or referred to as Blanc de Chine (French for “White from China”) is the traditional European term for a type of white Chinese porcelain and hand colored.

These are to be found on the secondary market … These are retailing new at the $800-1,000.00 for the uncolored works and up to $3,000.00 an up for the colored works. With patience and a level head you can acquire some beautiful works of Nymphenburg Porcelains.  These are in fact more rare than Meissen and are quite beautiful.

Works of these (both Blance de Chine & Colored works) can be seen at;

James Stowe

House of Stowe Galleries


For more information on Nymphenburg Porcelains, check out their website:

Know Your Top Hats

August 22nd, 2012 by

Collectible antique hats come in all varieties, including the perennially popular cowboy hat (I have a Stetson that I plan to give to my granddaughter someday) and the beautiful and often very feathery products of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, arguably the golden ages of ladies millinery.  I’m also a huge fan of the bowlers and derbies, which, as I understand, are making an only partially ironic comeback right now. I’m a little excited about this rumor.

But for the moment, let’s take a look at another venerable classic: the top hat. Top hats made their first appearance in paintings and written records during the early 1790’s. It’s possible that something similar in style to the top hat, with a tall cylindrical crown and modest brim, existed in Russia before this time, since certain members of the Russian Imperial army were wearing uniform top hats by 1803.

In the US, the style rose quickly in popularity and by the 1820’s the look was almost universal. The appeal of the top hat is credited to its straight, formal lines, its suggestion of authority, and the fact that it makes the wearer look taller. Until about 1850, the most expensive hats for upper class gentleman were made of beaver fur, and more accessible hats were made of rabbit fur or a kind of felt. Though in truth, many of these “beaver” hats were actually made from the skins of a variety of animals that were being trapped and hunted on the wilderness of the American frontier during this time, like muskrat and fisher. After the 1850’s hats were more often made of “hatter’s plush”, a kind of silk– Possibly because beaver populations were dropping.

By the middle of the 19th century, the top hat had evolved several slight variations including the following:

  • The stovepipe hat: This hat was tall at the crown, with a brim that was flat and perpendicular.
  • The chimney pot: This was similar to the stovepipe, but the cylindrical part of the hat had a convex curvature. Original hats in this elegant style are not easy to find.
  • The ladies riding hat: Women wore top hats for formal or cross country riding. Also known as a “side-saddle hat”, the riding hat has an upward-curving brim. Sometimes you can find these hats with original veils still attached. Ladies hats were often designed with a kind of silk bandeau inside, to hold pinned-up hair together. They were usually manufactured by men’s hat makers rather than ladies milliners.
  • The men’s riding hat: Riding hats for men also typically had an upward curling brim.
  • The opera hat: In 1823, a hat designed by Antoine Gibus appeared on the scene. Top hats were requisite formal wear for a night at the opera during this time, but they impeded the view of the person behind the wearer and they were easily squashed and damaged in cloak rooms. The Gibus hat (or chapeau claque) was a collapsible hat that folded down onto itself via a set of invisible springs. Once collapsed, it could be safely stowed under a seat. The Gibus opera hat is possibly the most delightful gentleman’s hat ever created, as all good magicians know, but there are very few of these in decent condition on the market today.

Top hats had more or less disappeared by the 1920’s, having been replaced by bowlers and fedoras. It’s worth noting that many surviving collectible antique hats that have remained in good condition are in unusually small sizes. A wearably-sized original Gibus hat or Knox ladies riding hat with a veil– if you can find either of these– are top hat treasures, and will probably be priced accordingly.

By Erin Sweeney


Selling Your Antiques Online -By Reyne Haines

August 3rd, 2012 by

At some point in time collectors are faced with the need to deaccession, or pair down their collections.   They often tire of their earlier purchases, deciding to upgrade to more rare, or one of a kind pieces. Sometimes they shift gears altogether, collecting a completely different artist, or era.

Selling your antiques online has both risks and rewards.  It offers you great opportunities to get in front of large audiences and obtain a good bang for the marketing buck.  After all, what could be better than getting to enjoy something for a while, then sharing it with some else by selling it for a profit?  For the addicted, this generally affords you the opportunity to purchase another great item, perhaps even more rare and expensive, which starts the process all over again!

As always, marketing your items is very important.  For this, you’ll need really good pictures!  Since the buyer is unable to hold the item in hand, you’ll also need to provide thorough descriptions.  Be open to answering questions from inquisitive buyers.  Price your items based on your research and current market conditions.  Keeping a list of which client bought what type of item can prove handy in the future when selling similar things.

There are many venues you can use to sell your collectables.  So which ones are best?  That depends on what it is you have to sell.  There are sites like eBay and Craigslist which work well for certain items,  but would they really offer the serious collectors for your Tiffany glass collection?

Other venues exist to help your efforts.  Google “selling antiques online” and you will find over a million results for auctions, online antique malls, and collectors clubs that might help you get in front of the right kind of buyers which should bring you more opportunity.

When working with online auctions or an online mall, it is important to know a few things.  First, do they deal in items like the ones you have?  Second, you should find out what kind of agreements they have between buyers and sellers.  Ask how they settle the purchase and what fees could be charged to you.  Finally, what kind of protection do they offer for both the buyer and the seller?

Remember, do not ship your item until payment has been received.  If you accept credit cards, be cautious when accepting credit cards from certain countries. You may not want to sell your entire collection to the Nigerian prince offering to pay you with his credit card.  PayPal is often the safe method for accepting credit cards if you do not already have merchant status in place.

Whether you use a popular online auction or mall, or create a web site yourself, you should be knowledgeable and exercise a sound strategy when offering your antiques.  In today’s world it isn’t just “caveat emptor” but also “vendo cum cautela” (sell with caution) as well.

RSL’s July 1 Antique Toys, Train Stations, Banks & Americana auction led by revered Jirofsky, Laster collections

May 11th, 2012 by

Circa-1905 Marklin ‘Café’ train station with many papier-mache figures, ex Ward Kimball collection. Est. $18,000-$25,000. RSL Auction Co.

TIMONIUM, Md. – Fine European antique toys and train stations, plus a fabulous array of still and mechanical banks are at the heart of RSL’s 621-lot auction to be held July 1, 2012 at Richard Opfer’s gallery in Timonium (suburban Baltimore), Maryland. Titled “Toys, Train Stations, Banks & Americana,” the auction’s wonderfully varied selections include the John Jirofsky architectural still bank collection, the late Dr. James Laster’s collection of train stations, and other carefully chosen additional consignments.


A longtime collector, Jirofsky is a member of both the MBCA and SBCCA, a reflection of his penchant for both mechanical and still banks. “We sold John’s mechanical banks in June of last year; now we have his still banks, which were his true collecting passion,” said RSL partner Ray Haradin. “There’s great diversity in his collection, especially among the painted buildings. It contains the only known example of the ‘1905 Bank.’” Having an almost mosque-like appearance with its tall spires, the 1905 Bank could cash out at $12,000-$18,000.


Gebruder Bing 1 gauge train station with patio, circa 1910. Est. $4,000-$6,000. RSL Auction Co.

Another highlight is a red Palace Bank with exceptionally fine detailing and a smooth, lustrous patina. It is expected to make $10,000-$15,000.


From a different consignor comes a rare and exceptional 1890s polychrome-painted Ives Santa bank, complete with a removable wire Christmas tree accessory. The bank’s gilt-edged trail of provenance includes the distinguished Leon Perelman and Donal Markey collections. The presale estimate is $8,000-$12,000.


Marklin three-tiered castle, circa 1895, parade ground moves when connected to steam engine. Est. $14,000-$20,000. RSL Auction Co.

RSL is honored to have been chosen to handle the European train station collection of the late Dr. James Laster, whose specialty was German 1 gauge. Fifteen train stations from the Laster collection will be lined up to meet their new owners on auction day, including a large, circa-1905 Marklin Café station (1 Gauge) ex Ward Kimball collection. It could bring $18,000-$25,000, Haradin said.


A circa-1910 Bing station with patio, in excellent condition, is entered with hopes of realizing $4,000-$6,000. There will also be a host of other, smaller Bing, Marklin and J. Krauss stations from the early 1900s.


The magical Marklin name will also be represented by a circa-1895 three-tiered castle. “It’s a pristine example from the Lutz /Marklin era and should sell for $14,000-$20,000,” Haradin said. Other Marklin prizes include a horse-drawn stagecoach with driver, est. $6,500-$9,500; and a large Marklin Jolanda riverboat, est. $12,000-$18,000.


Circa-1895 Hubley Toy Co. Gondola Amusement Park Ride, clockwork cast iron, brass and wood. Est. $30,000-$40,000. RSL Auction Co.

A first-rate assortment of American tin toys is highlighted by a circa-1885 Ives “Giant” locomotive. Measuring an impressive 17½ inches long, the Giant was the largest locomotive of the American clockwork-toy era. One of only four known, the entry in RSL’s sale is estimated at $12,000-$18,000.


Two other clockwork treasures to be sold are a circa-1875 Ives Stump Speaker in pristine condition, est. $5,000-$7,000; and one of only about 6 extant examples of an Ives Nursemaid, also known as “Old Aunt Chloe.” The toy is meant to depict a black nanny caring for a white infant. Estimate: $7,000-$9,000.


German painted papier-mache and cardboard ‘Black Dandy’ ball toss, circa 1895. Est. $5,000-$7,000. RSL Auction Co.

Cast-iron American toys exhibiting particularly fine condition include a “super-mint” circa-1905 Uncle Sam Chariot, made by Kenton Hardware and retaining an unbelievable 99.5% of its original paint. The 12-inch-long patriotic toy, whose chariot replicates an American eagle, is expected to achieve $15,000-$25,000 at auction. Right alongside it is one of the rarest of all Hubley toys, a Gondola Amusement Park Ride, with intricately cast ironwork on its wheels. The 19-inch-long toy, whose condition is rated “excellent,” is estimated at $30,000-$40,000.


A featured section of the sale is devoted to antique European character and automotive toys by such makers as Lehmann, Nifty, Schuco and the coveted French brand Fernand Martin, whose “Orange Vendor” and “Gendarme,” est. $3,000-$4,000, are rarely seen. European automotive toys will follow their category’s leader, a deluxe model Fisher Taxi with rare leather canopy and two female passengers, est. $3,500-$5,500.


J. & E. Stevens Bread Winners cast-iron mechanical bank, circa 1886. Est. $26,000-$32,000. RSL Auction Co.

A grouping of 18 character toys and other items with a black theme will be led by a circa-1895 papier-mache and cardboard Dandy Ball Toss. German made and displaying bright, appealing colors, the toy is designed so the “dandy” nods his head when a ball is successfully tossed into an opening in his midsection. Est. $5,000-$7,000.


It wouldn’t be an RSL auction without high-end cast-iron mechanical banks. The July 1 sale includes around 175 mechanicals, many in near-mint condition. Among the top lots is a circa-1886 J. & E. Stevens Bread Winners bank designed by Charles Bailey. With pristine paint, it has the potential to realize $26,000-$32,000.


J. & E. Stevens Calamity cast-iron mechanical bank, circa 1905. Est. $35,000-$55,000. RSL Auction Co.

Other coveted classics include a superior circa-1905 J. & E. Stevens Calamity bank, est. $35,000-$55,000; and a near-mint circa-1888 Kyser & Rex Butting Buffalo, $20,000-$30,000.


The perfect “go with” for a mechanical bank is an illustrated trade card. RSL’s sale will include approximately 10 trade cards advertising mechanical banks, including a relatively rare “Bad Accident.” Some of the cards are ex Bob Brady collection.


All forms of bidding will be available in RSL’s Sunday, July 1 auction, including Internet live bidding through The sale will begin at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, with a preview from Tuesday, May 26 commencing at 12 noon through Sunday morning prior to the auction. A complimentary cocktail party preview will be held at the gallery on Thursday, May 28 from 5:30-8:30 p.m.


For additional information, call Ray Haradin at 412-343-8733, Leon Weiss at 917-991-7352, or Steven Weiss at 212-729-0011. E-mail or Visit RSL Auction Co. online at

Collectors prepare to gather ’round the circle for Morphy’s May 26 Marble auction

May 9th, 2012 by

Christensen Agate cyclone guinea marble with ‘submarine’ effect, est. $700-$1,000. Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, Pa. – Some of the finest handmade and machine-made vintage marbles ever to be offered at auction will be available to bidders on May 26 at Morphy’s gallery in Lancaster County, Pa. The 783-lot specialty sale is all about marbles, and nothing else.


Manufacturers represented in the sale include such coveted names as Christensen Agate, Akro Agate and Peltier. The selection includes boxed sets as well as single marbles.


One of the auction’s special highlights is an Akro Agate Kullerbubbel Gum marble set, a display that was designed to offer children a stick of gum and one agate marble for a penny. The lucky person who purchased the last stick of gum from the display box would receive the only included corkscrew “shooter” as a bonus. The boxed set with 120 marbles, 120 sticks of gum and shooter is expected to make $3,000-$5,000.


Four-paneled controlled mica onionskin marble, est. $2,000-$3,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Christensen singles include three teardrop guineas. Also among the top lots by Christensen are a rare cobalt with orange and white marble, est. $1,000-$2,000; a hard-to-find red devil that is estimated at $1,500-$2,500; and a blue devil with electric-yellow stripes, similarly estimated at $1,500-$2,500. The latter two examples are pictured in all four editions of Everett Grist’s “Big Book of Marbles.” A third red devil, with yellow striping and spotting is also estimated at $1,500-$2,500.


Onionskins are led by a rare 4-panel controlled mica with faceted pontil. It has two opposing panels of almost solid red and two other opposing panels of turquoise and white with blizzard mica. Extremely hard to find in this configuration, the 1 1/8 in. marble could realize an auction price of $2,000-$3,000.


Circa-1870 gutta percha marble with multiple colors creating an ‘iris’ effect, est. $3,000-$5,000. Morphy Auctions image.

A circa-1870 marble made of gutta percha (papier mache) displays a color palette of mustard yellow, oxblood red, tan, blue and gold on a black base. Together, the colors create an iris effect. An early, seldom-encountered marble, it is in 9.5 condition and estimated at $3,000-$5,000.


A rarity known as a “birdcage” marble because of the distinctive cage-like shape its latticino forms within the glass boasts a medley of five colors. “In fact, we have never seen this many colors in a birdcage marble,” said Morphy’s marbles specialist Brian Estepp. The condition is rated 9.7 and it is estimated at $3,000-$5,000.


Five-color single-pontil birdcage marble, est. $3,000-$5,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Many wonderful sulphide marbles, with figures suspended in the glass, are included in the sale, including a standing Jester, Kneeling/Praying Angel and a wonderful Painted Dog. The well-centered figure of a spotted canine with brown eyes and nose stands on a green “grass” base. It could bring $2,500-$3,500 on auction day.


Morphy’s Marble auction will take place on Saturday, May 26, 2012, commencing at 9 a.m. Eastern time. All forms of bidding will be available, including live at the gallery, by phone or absentee, and live via the Internet through Morphy Live (sign up at or


For additional information on any lot in the auction, call Morphy’s at 717-335-3435 or

e-mail View the fully illustrated catalog and all other auction information online at

Bertoia’s March 23-24 ‘Made to Be Played’ toy auction finishes at $1.3M

May 8th, 2012 by

Hubley Popeye Patrol cast-iron motorcycle toy, $19,550. Bertoia Auctions image.

VINELAND, N.J. – Bertoia’s March 23-24 ‘Made to Be Played’ auction, a 1,400-lot offering highlighted by the Grover Van Dexter European tin toy collection, closed the books at an impressive $1.3 million (inclusive of 15% buyer’s premium). An extensive variety of early toys crossed the auction block. A Hubley cast-iron Popeye Patrol depicting the popular cartoon sailor on a motorcycle had been estimated at $10,000-$12,000 and rode off as top lot after hammering $19,550.


“It was a well-attended event, and the phones and Internet were very busy,” said Bertoia Auctions associate Rich Bertoia. “We’ve noticed that with each successive sale there are more and more serious bidders using alternative bidding methods. We’re reached a point with the electronic crowd where they’re 100% trusting of the catalog descriptions. A bidder will call ahead of time and ask, ‘Is this toy really excellent?’ Then after the sale they’ll call me and say it was actually better than described.”


Marklin rolling steam engine with foldable stack, double flywheel, other desirable details, $8,050. Bertoia Auctions image.

The aforementioned Popeye on Motorcycle had an association with Bertoia’s that went way back, Rich Bertoia said. “My brother Bill bought that toy years ago after visiting the Hubley showroom in New York. It was a big deal for a small company like Hubley (of Lancaster, Pa.) to make it to the big trade show. Bill resold the toy, which was in unplayed-with condition, to collector Bob Brady. In turn, Bob sold it at auction a few years ago. The person who bought it at that particular auction, consigned it to our March 23-24 sale.”


Before the auction, Rich Bertoia was asked how he thought the toy would fare. “I said that cast iron has made a comeback, that there are a few more collectors in the mix now, and that you won’t find another one in that condition,” Bertoia said. “It ended up nearly doubling its low estimate at $19,550.”


Steam toys from the collection of the late Klaus Grutzka, who taught art at the prestigious Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., put in a strong performance. A fine Marklin rolling steam engine with foldable stack, double flywheel and other nice details topped the steam-toy group at $8,050.


Lehmann ‘Coco’ weighted-string pull toy, German, with original box, $8,625. Bertoia Auctions image.

There was interest from both sides of the Atlantic in European tin toys from the personal collection of Grover Van Dexter, who owned a legendary Greenwich village toy shop called Second Childhood. Van Dexter’s shop – like his personal collection – was laden with rare Lehmanns and Martins.


Van Dexter’s Lehmann Coco, a weighted-string pull toy that depicts an African native climbing a palm tree to retrieve a coconut, not only retained its paper tree leaves but also its rare pictorial box. Estimated at $1,500-$1,800, it was bid to $8,625.


A French Fernand Martin wind-up toy depicting an English soldier was made of tin and outfitted in a cloth uniform with metal helmet and gun. An unquestionably rare toy, it soared to $6,325 against an estimate of $1,000-$1,200.


Deep Sea Diver lithographed tinplate wind-up toy, German, $5,750. Bertoia Auctions image.

Collectors love oddities, Bertoia said, and that described the German-made tinplate Deep Sea Diver of unknown manufacture. Examples of this nicely detailed tin-litho character in a primitive diving suit and domed helmet seldom appear at auction. Against an estimate of $1,200-$1,500, it claimed a winning bid of $5,750.


Depicting a character from the early newspaper comic strip “Toonerville Folks,” a Powerful Katrinka wind-up toy by Nifty swept past its $900-$1,100 estimate to realize $2,588.


“This is the type of toy that keeps comic character buyers interested. There were fewer Powerful Katrinkas made than other comic character toys. When one of them comes out of the woodwork, it gives the market a bump,” Bertoia said. “The Toonerville toys had more of a regional than national distribution. The comic strip had a rural theme, so the toys were only sent to certain pockets of the country. As a result, the toys are rare.”


Hand-painted spelter Santa Claus still bank, German, $8,625. Bertoia Auctions image.

A selection of antique still and mechanical banks – many in superior condition – was led by a hand-painted spelter bank depicting Santa Claus with a staff in one hand and a bag slung over his shoulder. Prices for spelter banks have continued to escalate, as the Santa bank proved when it sold for $8,625 against an estimate of $1,000-$1,500.


Perhaps the most unusual entry in the auction was a cast-iron figural hand, painted red and weighing more than 100 lbs. The 32-inch-tall trade sign was originally a display piece in a York, Pa., glove factory. Bertoia said he had seen only one other like it, in an Architectural Digest spread of several years ago. Bertoia’s sold the example in their sale for $6,325 – more than six times its high estimate.


Hubley Parlour Maid figural cast-iron doorstop, designed by Anne Fish, $5,463. Bertoia Auctions image.

Bertoia’s is known for its record prices on figural cast-iron doorstops, a collecting category in which Bertoia’s owner, Jeanne Bertoia, is an acknowledged expert.


“In this sale we included the complete range of Hubley Art Deco doorstops designed by Anne Fish, a popular English cartoonist and illustrator in the 1920s,” said Jeanne Bertoia. “Each was in beautiful condition. The Parlour Maid, which depicts a French maid serving cocktails, was in even better condition than the book example.” Estimated at $1,800-$2,500, the Parlour Maid achieved a top bid of $5,463.


Bertoia’s will present its annual Fall Sale on Sept. 21-22. On Nov. 10, the company will auction part II of the Dick Claus collection of nautical toys and boats. To contact Bertoia Auctions, call 856-692-1881 or e-mail Visit Bertoia’s online at

Fifth Annual Old York Antiques Show

April 30th, 2012 by





















































































Morphy’s May 11-12 auction of toys, trains, dolls and famous airplane collection could be a high flier

April 6th, 2012 by

Marklin O gauge passenger train set, est. $2,000-$3,000. Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, Pa. – A remarkable cross-category collection of vintage toy airplanes, three outstanding train collections and more than 400 lots of dolls and accessories will join a widely varied array of other fine toys to form the core of Morphy’s May 11-12 auction.


The Friday session starts with a major offering of antique and vintage trains that comprises a good 40% of the 1,615-lot sale. “Every train collector will find something that pleases them,” said Dan Morphy, CEO of Morphy Auctions. “There are hundreds of prewar, postwar and contemporary trains of many different gauges.”


Bing O gauge freight train set, est. $600-$800. Morphy Auctions image.

The railroad selection boasts many sought-after brands – Marklin, Bing, Ives, Dorfan, Lionel and American Flyer. There are even two rare sets by American Flyer’s predecessor, Edmond-Metzel – one with original box and three Chicago passenger cars.


Within the German train group are coveted early Marklin O gauge sets, a handsome Bing 1 gauge set, and half a dozen mostly hand-painted buildings and stations, including a Leipzig station. “Golden age” highlights include an American Flyer President’s Special with original box and a Lionel #400 freight set with some of its original individual boxes.


Marklin Leipzig train station, est. $4,000-$6,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Most of the early Marklin trains are from the Arizona collection of Ray Dextraze, while many of the Lionel and golden age trains came from New York-based collector Jack Moore. A Pennsylvania collector consigned the contemporary trains.


The stellar Geoffrey “GR” Webster collection is a comprehensive lifetime assemblage of American cast-iron, English die-cast, and pre- and postwar European and Japanese airplanes. More than 50 prized pieces – many of them reference book examples – will go under the hammer during the two-day sale.


Underside view of the top airplane in Morphy’s sale: Britains Short Bros. flying boat monoplane with 14.25-inch (36.2 cm.) wingspan, Bakelite and heavy tin, made 1936 only, one of the rarest and most valuable airplane toys ever made, est. $12,000-$16,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Webster is not only a collector but also a highly decorated wartime pilot, aviation scholar and author who built his panoramic collection with an eye toward rarity, originality and historical accuracy. His fascination for flight – which began during childhood as the son of a naval pilot – led to his amassing a world-class collection of aviation toys and models. Portions of the collection are documented in his 2009 book Collecting Vintage Aircraft Toys and a 2011 co-authored edition titled Dinky Toys Aircraft 1934-1979.


The top prize in Webster collection is an ultra-rare 1930s Britains Short Bros. Monoplane Flying Boat with original box. One of only three known to exist, the Bakelite and heavy tin plane is also the only example to be offered for public sale in the last 30 years.


Ingap Italian M-202 lithographed-tin friction airplane with 9.5 in. (24 cm.) wingspan, est. $800-$1,200. Morphy Auctions image.

“James Opie, who authored the premier guide on Britains soldiers, rates this toy at the top of rarity for Britains,” said Morphy. “GR’s book example might even reach $20,000.”


A fleet of iconic 1920s cast-iron aviation toys is led by a Hubley America, the largest cast-iron plane ever made. There’s also a massive Hubley Friendship float plane with Amelia Earhart’s silhouette in one window; a Spirit of St. Louis, and numerous other period cast-iron tri-motors and gliders.


Prewar German tin planes include Tippco productions from 1935 to 1942, including a Junkers JU-52, a Siebel twin-engine transport, and the only known surviving example of a Heinkel He-100. There are also rare prewar Rico (Spanish) and Ingap (Italian) craft, including the only known original examples of the CR-42 biplane fighter and the Macchi C.202; and a seldom-seen Chein tinplate Martin seaplane. Arguably the largest tin toy ever produced, a Yonezawa tinplate 10-engine B-36 bomber had plenty of room to spread its expansive wings in the Webster collection. Two boxed prewar Dux constructor planes depict a German Stuka divebomber and civilian Messerschmidt ME109.

Yonezawa B-36 tin bomber with 26-inch (66 cm.) wingspan, est. $600-$900. Morphy Auctions image


“Usually toy plane collectors focus on one category, for instance American cast-iron or British planes. There aren’t many who collect all toy planes, but GR was one of them. His collection is an overview of aviation history in toy form,” Morphy said.


Early German toys include a 1st series Marklin battleship, Fleishmann and Carette boats; and many tin autos by such makers as Bing and Fisher. A hand-painted late-19th-century Marklin firewagon, Lutz hansom cab, 30 lots of penny toys and a rare Uberlacher swimming toy set with original toy boats and tin animals round out the selection.


Uncle Remus cast-iron mechanical bank, est. $2,000-$3,000. Morphy Auctions image.

The Saturday session is led by cast-iron still and mechanical banks, including an Uncle Remus, and Hen on Nest; as well as vehicles and airplanes from the Webster collection. An Ives Phoenix horse-drawn fire-ladder toy is another cast-iron highlight.


More than 400 lots of fine dolls, doll clothing, accessories, furniture and wardrobe trunks represent a 200+ year timeline, ranging from 18th-century Queen Anne wood dolls to modern artist dolls. One of the finest dolls in the sale is a 1910 Kammer & Reinhardt 101X – a rare boy character doll with composition body, bisque head and flocked hair. In beautiful condition, it is expected to make $5,000-$6,000.


Kammer & Reinhardt K*R 101X German bisque character doll, est. $5,000-$6,500. Morphy Auctions image.

A 12-inch Simon & Halbig 153 boy with molded hair, also known as a “Little Duke” doll, was found in a dry attic. It commands an $8,000-$12,000 estimate. Two 1910 composition Munich Art dolls – a boy and girl – are considered to be forerunners to bisque character dolls. Each is estimated at $5,500-$8,500. A large black stockinet Beecher baby was handmade by members of an Elmira, N.Y., church group between 1893 and 1910 to raise funds for missionaries. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000.


Also poised for success are an all-wood Schoenhut “bonnet doll, French dolls, including a 33-inch Steiner child, est. $8,000-$10,000; Ideal Toni dolls, and two Miss Ondine swimming dolls patented in 1878. German dolls [Kestner, Heubach, Kley & Hahn, etc.], French Jumeaus, SFBJ children, Kathe Kruse, Lenci, and Barbie dolls; wax and papier-mache dolls; and an array of artist dolls also will be offered.


The May 11 session starts at 10 a.m. Eastern Time; the May 12 session at 9 a.m. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live or Tel: 717-335-3435; e-mail