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 Tel. 865-475-5163, e-mail Visit Coker’s online at

Daniels collection of antique, vintage telephones will keep collectors ‘engaged,’ Oct. 14-15 at Morphy’s

September 22nd, 2011 by

Circa-1878 Watts & Co. coffin-shape telephone offered with a copy of the first telephone directory, est. $10,000-$20,000. Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, Pa. – A large percentage of the world’s population has never even seen a dial-face telephone, but that certainly wasn’t the case with the late Bill Daniels. The massive collection of antique and vintage phones that filled his home comprised a chronological archive of Alexander Graham Bell’s 1876 invention and contained models ranging from primitive turn of the 20th century curiosities to ultra-cool mid-century designs.


A premier assemblage, the Daniels collection has been consigned to Morphy Auctions, where it will be apportioned into three subsequent General Antiques auctions, the first of which will take place on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14 and 15, 2011. The phones will open the second session.


“Many of Bill Daniels’ phones were displayed at museums or shows, but he was

Circa-1892 Western Electric magneto wall cabinet set, est. $7,000-$10,000. Morphy Auctions image.

always a buyer, hardly ever a seller,” said Morphy Auctions CEO Dan Morphy. “Bill worked for AT&T’s long distance division until his retirement at age 52, so telephones were always a big part of his life.”


Daniels’ widow, Dorothy, said her husband started picking up old phones at flea markets, tag sales and church sales, later expanding his hunt to collector shows dedicated exclusively to telephones. “As his collection grew, he started thinking about the idea of a museum, so in addition to phones, he started buying phone booths, telegraphs, intercoms and other phone-related items,” Mrs. Daniels said.


One of Bill Daniels’ favorite pieces was his Watts & Co. coffin phone, which gets its name because of its distinctive shape. It is offered in the Oct. 14-15 auction with a $10,000-$20,000 estimate. Other highlights include a Western Electric magneto wall cabinet set, est. $7,000-$10,000; and an American toll 50-cent pay station telephone, est. $5,000-$10,000. Most of the phones in the collection are American, although there are also some examples from England and Japan.


The Friday session will open with more than 70 occupational shaving mugs, a category that has become closely associated with Morphy’s. A mug emblazoned with a merry-go-round is expected to bring $1,200-$1,500. Two mugs with a transportation theme carry a presale estimate of $1,000-$1,500 each. One has a depiction of a mail delivery truck, while the other is illustrated with a racecar.


From a 35-year apothecary collection, a 16 ½ in. green demijohn or carboy apothecary show bottle with gold label identifying ‘Indian Hemp Fluid Extract.’ Est. $250-$500. Morphy Auctions image.

Approximately 180 lots of antique apothecary items from a Pennsylvania pharmacist and pharmacology professor’s 35-year collection are included in the Friday lineup. The collection includes many “shop” bottles that 19th century pharmacists would have displayed on shelves. Most of them are glass and have labels identifying the medicinal contents by their Latin names. The containers vary in terms of decoration, with some having gold or black labels with fancy trim. Some are colorful, have diagonal labels or other distinctive designs.


The apothecary collection also includes a number of hardware items, such as an early pill roller that made pills from paste, an unusual emulsifying machine, and several counter-mounted cast-iron presses for inserting corks into bottles. “Some are quite artistic for their era and have figural designs on them, such as an alligator, sleeping dog or coiled snake,” the consignor said.


Also seen in the collection are nicely decorated 12-inch Parke-Davis “green” tins for herb and leaf storage, Victorian porcelain and ceramic display jars; mortar and pestle sets, and a sub-collection of glass apothecary candy jars. Visually appealing glass “show globes” were made to hold colored water and to be displayed on countertops, in shop windows or suspended from chains inside a pharmacy. “Legend has it that the color of the water was a signal of the general health of the community – green meant the community was healthy and red meant there was disease,” the consignor said.


A selection of 120+ pieces of pottery includes productions by Roseville, Fulper and Rookwood, as well as some very nice

Monumental Rookwood pottery vase attributed to Valentien, with heavy silver overlay created by Gorham Silver Co., 14 in. tall. Made for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Est. $30,000-$50,000. Morphy Auctions image.

mochaware. The top lot in the category is a Rookwood vase made for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and attributed to A.R. Valentien. It stands 24 inches tall and is exquisitely decorated with owls, seashells and a large serpent on the sterling silver overlay. It could make $30,000-$50,000 on auction day. Other pottery highlights include a Roseville green Bonita jardinière with pedestal, est. $2,000-$4,000; and a 4½-inch mochaware pitcher with tree décor, applied handle and artist’s mark, est. $1,000-$5,000.


Twenty pieces of early blown glass will be auctioned. A pair of signed 10½-inch Steuben iridescent candlesticks is estimated at $1,500-$2,500; and a signed 1910 La Verre Francais art glass vase standing 11½ inches tall is expected to reach $1,500-$2,500.


More than 50 artworks have been cataloged, including a nice selection of oil paintings. A signed 15 x 20 inch Guy Carleton Wiggins New York City snowscape carries a $10,000-$16,000 estimate. For those who favor contemporary marine art, there is a Christian Riese Lassen seascape, 25 x 29 inches, estimated at $15,000-$25,000.


Asian ivory includes an intricately carved 39-inch-long tusk, $2,000-$4,000; and a 13-inch-tall plaque carved with a populated village scene, $1,000-$2,000. A fine selection of netsukes is also set to cross the auction block.


A collection of sterling silver Native American jewelry will be sold, with the top piece being a squash blossom necklace with 15 stones, estimated at $800-$1,200. Among the fine jewelry lots, the highest estimate of $5,000-$7,000 accompanies a 14K white gold filigree diamond and sapphire ring. It features a 1.1-carat VS1 center diamond in E color.


German-language copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, found in Pennsylvania, est. $5,000-$5,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Morphy’s is located in Lancaster County, which was home to many of Pennsylvania’s earliest German settlers. It’s always exciting, Dan Morphy said, when important 18th-century documents pertaining to those early settlers emerge from area estates and collections. The Oct. 14-15 sale contains two such items. The first is a leatherbound 1767 merchant’s daybook from Lititz, Pa. The book shows merchandise purchased over a 70-year period, through 1837. “What makes it interesting is that the book is written in three or four different hands, presumably generations of the same family, and the entries are shown in shillings and pence till 1789, at which point it switches to American monetary terms,” said Morphy. Described as being in exceptional condition for its age, the daybook is estimated at $1,000-$2,000.


The other article of early Pennsylvania German origin in Morphy’s sale is a German-language copy of the Declaration of Independence that was owned by the late Glenn Redcay, a well-known local antiques dealer and businessman. Morphy believes the document may have been created 20 or 30 years after America declared its independence in 1776 and that its purpose was to inform members of the German community who were not proficient in English. “Over the years Glenn had it appraised several times, and the appraisal values ranged anywhere from $5,000 to $150,000. We’ve entered it in the sale with a $5,000-$10,000 estimate,” Morphy said.


The 1,200-lot auction is rounded out with a grouping of more than 70 figural celluloid tape measures, including the only

Set of Snow White and (6) Dwarfs celluloid tape measures, est. $2,000-$3,000. Morphy Auctions image.

known Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs set (with 6 Dwarfs), est. $2,000-$3,000; and a few Oriental rugs. A tightly woven 9 x 12½ ft. Kirman originally purchased for $50,000 is conservatively estimated at $10,000-$20,000.


All forms of bidding will be available for the Oct. 14-15 auction, including live at the gallery, by phone or absentee, and live via the Internet through Morphy Live (sign up at or The sale will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern time on both days.


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

Arbor Antiques Services – Round Top Antiques & Collectibles Shows – Sept. 23rd – Oct. 1st

September 21st, 2011 by

Arbor Antiques Services promotes a Spring and Fall Round Top Show every year during the nationally known Antiques Festival in Round Top, Texas. Our Round Top show site is located on eight acres at the American Legion Post #338 on Hwy. 237 off of Hwy. 290. We are just 2 miles from downtown Round Top. We offer dealer spaces in an air-conditioned hall and in several large big top tents. We have free admission, free parking and an on-site cafe. As an antique dealer or a shopper, you will not want to miss this antiquing experience in Round Top, Texas.

’Tis the season for holiday antiques, Sept. 17 at Morphy’s

September 12th, 2011 by

Wire-wrapped glass Christmas ornament replicating a beetle, pictured in two reference books, est. $800-$1,500. Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, Pa. – Snow-covered belsnickels and whimsical veggie folk will come together for a festive Holiday Auction at Morphy’s on Saturday, Sept. 17th. The 483-lot auction contains a very nice single-owner collection, select additional consignments of Halloween and Christmas antiques; and a small but choice array of vintage Easter goods.


The auction will open with a variety of Christmas ornaments, including rare examples made of glass, chalk and cotton. An unusual wire-wrapped glass beetle ornament pictured in John Lightner’s reference book “Christmas Rarities” could command $800-$1,500.


Ever-popular Dresdens will be offered, as well. An ocean freighter with cotton “smoke” billowing from its masts is

Dresden Christmas ornament of a freighter with billowing smokestacks, est. $2,000-$3,000. Morphy Auctions image.

expected to make $2,000-$3000; while a horseless carriage with driver is estimated at $1,500-$2,500.


Chosen as one of the auction catalog cover images, a superb 22½-inch-tall belsnickel Santa candy container is swathed in a blue robe heavily adorned with sparkly mica. The bearded figure of monumental size holds a miniature Christmas tree with red ball ornaments. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000.


A beautiful 19-inch bearded Father Christmas candy container is “dressed” in a blue hooded robe with fur and holly trim, and holds a tiny tree. In excellent condition, it is entered in the sale with a $5,000-$8,000 estimate.


Belsnickel holding decorated fir tree and wearing mica-laden robe, 22½ inches, est. $6,000-$8,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Another rare, fully robed belsnickel stands 21 inches tall, has a composition face with pious expression, composition hands, rabbit-fur beard and distinctively decorated hat. It is estimated at $6,000-$8,000.


“This sale contains a lot of very desirable figural and small chalk ornaments, as well as some candy containers I’ve never seen before,” said Dr. John Morphy, head of Acquisitions & Appraisals for Morphy Auctions. “An example would be the Halloween rooster witch in a black boot candy container with baby chicks peeping out of the side and toe. It’s extremely rare and might sell for as much as $4,000 at auction.”


Other unusual items Halloween items in the sale include a Victorian oil painting with a skeleton and jack o’ lantern theme, est. $3,000-$5,000; and a very rare Halloween Fortune Teller game that was chosen for the cover of the book “Halloween in America.” Estimate: $2,000-$4,000.


Another prized catch is the heavy composition witch and veggie man dancing toy. Both

Heavy composition witch and veggie man wind-up dancing toy, est. $4,000-$6,000. Morphy Auctions image.

figures are on a mechanical platform. When wound up, they move around in circles as though dancing. An early toy that is very seldom seen, it is cataloged with a $4,000-$6,000 estimate.


All forms of bidding will be available for the Sept. 17 Holiday Auction, including live at the gallery, by phone or absentee, and live via the Internet through Morphy Live (sign up at or The sale will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern time.


For further 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

Cowens’ MVP Award takes top prize at Grey Flannel’s Basketball Hall of Fame Auction, sells for $156,000

August 22nd, 2011 by

1972-73 Dave Cowens Boston Celtics MVP Award, $156,000. Grey Flannel Auctions image.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The MVP Award won by Boston Celtics center Dave Cowens in the NBA’s 1972-73 season sold for an astonishing $156,000 at Grey Flannel’s Sixth Annual Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Auction held Aug. 12 in Springfield. The 170-lot auction conducted onsite at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame grossed more than $1.8 million, inclusive of 20% buyer’s premium.


Hall of Famer Cowens’ MVP trophy was the first of its kind ever to make an appearance at auction. The 3ft. 9in. trophy was tipped to be the sale’s premier lot, and it did not disappoint, attracting 47 bids before hammering $156K.


“The price paid for the trophy shocked us,” said Grey Flannel Auctions’ president Richard E. Russek. “It was the last item in the sale, and after it hammered, the whole audience stood up and started clapping.”


Russek said phone lines were “jam-packed” throughout the auction, with bids coming in from many different countries. “Basketball is no longer just an American sport,” he said. “There are leagues in Europe and Israel, and it’s huge in Asia. It’s a great international sport, now, and the crush of bidders from other nations in our auction was tangible proof of that.”


The enduring popularity of superstar Julius Erving was evidenced by the $132,000 price paid for an ABA Eastern

1974 Julius “Dr. J” Erving ABA Eastern Conference All-Star game-used uniform, $132,000. Grey Flannel Auctions image.

Conference All-Star uniform game-used by “Dr. J” in 1974. The striking red, white and blue uniform embellished with stars, Erving’s name, his number “32” and “ABA” was one of a number of items in the auction that came from the collection of veteran TV commentator and 25-time Emmy® Award winner Al Trautwig.


Another item that generated tremendous bidding interest was the only Lenny Wilkens game-used St. Louis Hawks road jersey known to exist. “It had all the bells and whistles – rarity, provenance, the connection to a Hall of Famer and Top 50 player, and a letter of authenticity from Lenny himself,” Russek said. Entered in the auction with a minimum-bid requirement of $10,000, it soared to a winning bid of $78,000.


The competition for rare jerseys was “frenzied,” Russek said. “Collectors knew what they wanted, and they went for it full bore.” Among the top apparel lots was a 1971 Wes Unseld Eastern Conference All-Star game-used and autographed uniform, $60,000; and a 1984-85 Michael Jordan rookie Chicago Bulls game-used and autographed road uniform, $54,000. A Dan Issel ABA Eastern Conference All-Star game-used uniform was close behind at $51,000.


1971 Wes Unseld Eastern Conference All-Star game-used and autographed uniform, $60,000. Grey Flannel Auctions image.

Celtics fans cross several generations. This led to five-figure prices on several items displaying the fabled Boston team’s green and white motif. A 1973-74 Dave Cowens Boston Celtics game-used home jersey, which was offered together with a pair of Dennis Johnson’s game-used home shorts, scored $39,000. A treasure from 1980 was the Celtics home warm-up jacket worn by former collegiate superstar “Pistol” Pete Maravich, who joined the Celts that year as a free agent after playing 17 early-season games. With the Celtics team name emblazoned on the front and the name “Maravich” on the back, the jacket’s visual appeal was further enhanced by a shamrock logo on each of the sleeves. Fans pushed the bidding on the jacket to $60,000.

Of the five championship rings offered in the sale, Robert Horry’s dazzling 2005 San Antonio Spurs World Championship ring fared best. The weighty 14K white gold player’s ring with diamonds totaling 2.55 carats came with its original wood presentation box and letters of authenticity. Described in Grey Flannel’s catalog as “the finest-looking NBA championship ring this auction house has ever seen,” it flew past its $5,000 reserve to reach $48,000.


The evening prior to the auction, Grey Flannel hosted a star-studded Reunion Dinner on Center Court at the Hall of Fame. It was attended by 2011 Hall of Fame inductees, returning Hall of Famers and a who’s who of other basketball dignitaries.


“This was our sixth year to host the pre-Induction dinner, but we’ve actually had a close association with the Hall of Fame

1971 Wes Unseld Eastern Conference All-Star game-used and autographed uniform, $60,000. Grey Flannel Auctions image.

for 25 years,” said Russek. “Many of the players at the dinner thanked us for our support, which was very gratifying. The association we enjoy with the Hall of Fame is very important to us. We’re in it for the long haul.”


Grey Flannel’s next event will be its annual Holiday Auction, tentatively scheduled for Nov. 15, 2011. Additional information will appear soon on the company’s website at To contact Grey Flannel Auctions, call 631-288-7800 or e-mail

Cast-iron toys ruled the roost at Bertoia’s million-dollar summer sale

August 22nd, 2011 by

Hubley Ingersoll Rand cast-iron truck, $13,800. Bertoia Auctions image.

VINELAND, N.J. – Hefty cast-iron trucks, banks and figural doorstops found favor with bidders who congregated at Bertoia’s New Jersey gallery for a lighthearted summer auction of ‘Toys with Character.’ The June 10-11 sale grossed $1,014,000, with above-estimate and even world-record prices achieved on many of the 1,481 lots offered. All prices quoted in this report include a 15% buyer’s premium.


Topping the roster of prices realized was a circa-1933 toy version of an Ingersoll Rand Mack truck with painted driver figure. Made by Hubley, the richly hued green and red truck with spoked nickel wheels featured an open-frame body that exposed a well-detailed nickel compressor. In pristine to near-mint condition, it rumbled past its $8,000-$10,000 estimate to settle at $13,800.


Cast-iron safe-shape still bank with bust of Grover Cleveland, $11,500. Bertoia Auctions image.

An extensive selection of still banks featured as its centerpiece the Guy and Kim Zani collection. The tightly focused collection consisted entirely of antique banks shaped as safes, some with padlocks, others with combination locks. A rare and unusual entry, a J.M. Harper safe bank topped with a well executed bust of President Grover Cleveland was described in the auction catalog as “reportedly one of two known,” and was bid to $11,500 against an estimate of $8,000-$9,000.


Just as desirable as the mechanical banks that were cast from it, a complex brass three-dimensional pattern for J. & E. Stevens’ “Cat and Mouse” bank was in excellent, complete condition. It earned more than twice the low estimate at $8,050.


Bertoia’s is known as a premier source for early cast-iron doorstops. The company’s owner, Jeanne Bertoia, is a noted expert on the subject and has spent years collecting, studying, writing about and selling the very best doorstop examples at auction. Some 75 doorstops were entered in the summer sale, and predictably, a Hubley Art Deco design of two bathing beauties under a parasol, signed “Fish,” created a bidding frenzy.


“The Bathing Beauties doorstop is an extremely popular form with collectors, and this example was in particularly nice

Hubley cast-iron Bathing Beauties doorstop, design by Fish, $10,350. Bertoia Auctions image.

condition,” said Bertoia. “It was estimated at $3,000-$4,000 and sold for $10,350, which we believe to be a world auction record.”


Another doorstop that may well have set an auction record was the Hubley/Fish Messenger Boy. A classic depiction of a Deco-era bellboy holding a wrapped bouquet of flowers, its bright colors and near-mint condition helped elicit a winning bid of $8,050 against an estimate of $4,000-$5,000.


A flotilla of handsome toy boats commanded a first-class fare from bidders. The flagship turned out to be an early 20th-century Bing (Germany) clockwork King Edward gunboat. Made of hand-painted tin and measuring an impressive 29 inches in length, it retained its original guns, funnels, masts and lifeboats. The boat sold within estimate for $8,625. Both a Bing Leviathan painted-tin clockwork oceanliner and Buddy ‘L’ pressed-steel tugboat achieved a closing price of $6,900.


Distler Mickey Mouse Hurdy Gurdy with miniature dancing Minnie Mouse, $8,050. Bertoia Auctions image.

Tinplate character toys finishing in the top dozen lots of the sale were led by an all-time favorite with Disney collectors – a Distler (Germany) tinplate clockwork Mickey Mouse Hurdy Gurdy with tiny dancing Minnie Mouse on top of the barrel organ. A highly sought-after toy, it exceeded estimate to close at $8,050. Joining the beloved mice were two other coveted German clockwork toys: a boxed Lehmann Masuyama, which depicts a Japanese woman being transported in a rickshaw; and an extremely rare Eppie Hogg in Auto, made by Nifty. Each of the toys made $6,090.


Collectors had a superb array of comic and other character toys from which to choose at the June auction, since the section contained part one – approximately 300 toys – from the renowned Ronnie and Sandy Rosen collection. Bertoia’s is auctioning the Rosens’ wonderfully varied 1,200-piece personal collection in three segments, with parts II and III yet to come.


Bertoia’s will conduct a Sept. 23-24 auction featuring the cast-iron automotive toy collection of the late Fred Castan, and the eclectic American and European toy collection of the late Ralph Tomlinson. Additional information is available online at Tel. 856-692-1881 or e-mail

Jan Foulke’s Guide to Dolls 2011 edition now available for purchase online

August 8th, 2011 by

LANCASTER, Pa. – Beautifully designed and richly illustrated, the 2011 edition of Jan Foulke’s Guide to Dolls is now available for purchase through Synapse Publishing’s website or Nearly 300 pages in length, this immaculately organized full-color reference is an indispensable resource for any level of doll buyer, seller or collector.

Written by the most trusted authority on antique and vintage dolls, Jan Foulke, the book includes reliable, up-to-the-minute market values on more than 2,000 antique, vintage and modern collectible dolls. More than 600 dolls – many of them from premier private collections – are shown in full-color photographs.

Main doll classifications are broken down into subcategories arranged alphabetically by manufacturer. Doll productions from each of the makers are further sorted by doll type, size and/or model number.

Foulke added an introductory section to each doll factory or studio category, providing a thumbnail history, basic description of the manufacturing technique, and additional tidbits of information, such as cautions about reproductions.

A detailed main index enables the user to look up virtually any doll by name, and it is followed by a second index that helps identify dolls by numbers incised into the molds from which they were created. Foulke didn’t stop there; she also included a glossary of terms to help beginners and non-doll specialists with trade terminology, such as “paperweight eyes,” “gusset joint” or “mignonnette.”

With nearly 40 years of experience in the doll business, Foulke relishes the opportunity to share her knowledge and does so with an extensive section on how to assess quality, condition, clothing and originality. It is followed by a detailed narrative packed with tips on buying and selling dolls, including at auction. Throughout, these tutorials are written in a clear and conversational style with no filler.

Jan Foulke’s Guide to Dolls 2011 softcover edition is quite likely the only book any doll enthusiast requires for doll identification and accurate market values. The book is available to purchase online for $26.95 through Synapse Publishing’s dedicated web page or

Morphy’s to auction premier Bob Levy collection of antique, vintage coin-op machines in Sept. 2-3 sale

August 4th, 2011 by

DENVER, Pa. – On Sept. 3, 2011, Morphy’s will be transformed into an arcade of color and sound as the central Pennsylvania company auctions the late Bob Levy’s revered personal collection of gambling and coin-op machines. The painstakingly amassed collection of 400 antique and vintage machines will be offered unpicked and in its entirety during the second session of Morphy’s Sept. 2-3 Coin Op, Antique Advertising and General Store sale.


Superior 5-Cent Horse Race slot machine, $20,000-$25,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Bob Levy was a renowned expert on coin-ops who bought and sold only the rarest and best examples. For many years he based his antiques business “The Unique One” in a Pennsauken, N.J., showroom, but his clientele was a global one. He was a fountainhead of coin-op knowledge and such a presence in the hobby that collectors far and wide referred to him as simply “the slot machine guy.” In October of 2009, Levy joined the Morphy Auctions team to manage sales of gambling and coin-op machines.


“After Bob passed away in February, we were informed that, in his estate planning, Bob had entrusted us to auction his collection of prized machines, which he called his ‘keepers,’” said Morphy’s CEO Dan Morphy. “Bob was our good friend. Our goal is to represent him in a way that honors what he did for the coin-op collecting hobby.”


Perhaps the most important piece in the collection is the Superior 5-Cent Horse Race slot machine described in the catalog as “the best of the best.” One of the most coveted machines in coin-op collecting, it has a confection-vending feature and gold medal designation, and carries an estimate of $20,000-$25,000.


Caille’s Centaur upright slot machine, $16,000-$20,000. Morphy Auctions image.

A Caille Centaur upright slot machine, 65 inches tall with black-oxidized, finished cast-iron trim, is expected to make $16,000-$20,000; while a Mills 5-Cent Dewey upright slot in all-original condition with earlier paneled oak cabinet is estimated at $14,000-$18,000.


The decorative details on the Mills 2-Bit Jackpot Dewey coin-op machine make this particular model very special. It has extra-fancy castings that include lion heads on its legs, owls on its handles, dogs on its façade and figural ladies on its head. The 65-inch-tall machine commands an estimate of $12,000-$16,000.


A Mills floor model Black Beauty $1 machine could realize $3,000-$5,000. “It is unusual to find a factory Mills $1 machine that has a ‘hand-load’ jackpot, as this one does,” said Morphy.


The Bally Reliance 5-Cent dice machine has a clever design that allows the user to play craps. The payout machine boasts various awards. Although a complex machine, the Levy example is in fully functional condition and is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.


Mills Dewey 2-Bit Jackpot coin-op machine, $12,000-$16,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Beautifully restored, a Buckley Bones 25-Cent dice slot machine is similar in concept to the Bally Reliance and is also very appealing to collectors. In working order, the Buckley Bones could fetch in the vicinity of $8,000-$10,000.


Perhaps one of the greatest and most ornate of all cast-iron poker machines, the Mills Little Duke machine is noteworthy for its intricate castings, even on the rear door. The example in the Levy collection retains its original marquee and reel strips – always a plus. Estimate: $8,000-$10,000.


Seldom found in excellent working order, a wooden Jennings golf ball vending machine operates with 25-cent coins. This particular model was installed primarily in country clubs, where golfers could try their luck at winning a pay-off in golf balls. It could make $3,000-$5,000 at auction. A counter-top golf ball vending machine from Jennings is in excellent condition and estimated at $3,500-$5,500. Yet another golf ball vendor is the Mills floor model “Extraordinary” slot machine with motor-driven dispenser. Fully functional and in excellent condition, it has a $6,000-$8,000 estimate.


Carrying on the sports theme, a Mills 5-Cent Baseball slot machine is complete with its original marquee, reel strips and mint rolls. Estimate: $4,000-$6,000.


J. & E. Stevens Girl Skipping Rope cast-iron mechanical bank, $16,000-$22,000. Morphy Auctions image.

An ever-popular Baker’s Pacers Racers horse race machine has a beveled glass panel that allows viewing of the internal mechanism. It could bring $4,000-$6,000. Made by Bally, a Ray’s Race Track gambling machine is also estimated at $4,000-$6,000.


The Saturday, Sept. 3 session also includes 300 antique advertising lots, figural cast-iron antiques and 75 mechanical banks. Leading the banks are a J. & E. Stevens Girl Skipping Rope ($16000-$22,000) and Professor Pug Frog ($10,000-$15,000). Both are in excellent-plus condition.


The Friday, Sept. 2 session features more than 150 antique occupational shaving mugs, including a rare example depicting a steam-powered railway shovel, estimated at $2,500-$3,500; as well as 180 tobacciana lots and 350 lots of soft drink advertising. Of the latter category, 170 pertain specifically to Coca-Cola. Highlights include a 1908 serving tray with the image of an ethereal semi-nude woman holding a bottle of Coke ($4,000-$7,000) and a 1923 cardboard trolley sign with images of a young woman holding a glass of Coke and dressed for each of the four seasons ($2,000-$4,000).


1908 Coca-Cola serving tray, $4,000-$7,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Additional advertising items include a Rough Riders cigar box featuring an image of Teddy Roosevelt leading a charge, presumably up San Juan Hill ($1,500-$3,000), a 1940s Eastside neon sign with eagle motif ($1,500-$2,000) and a beautifully illustrated 1923 Orange Crush calendar with full calendar pad.


All forms of bidding will be available for the Sept. 2-3 auction, including live at the gallery, by phone or absentee, and live via the Internet through Morphy Live (sign up at or The sale will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern time.


For additional information, call Morphy’s at 717-335-3435 or e-mail View the fully illustrated catalog online at

Summer fun ahead at Morphy’s Aug. 12-13 auction of toys, banks and comic books

August 3rd, 2011 by

DENVER, Pa. – Mickey Mouse, a formidable legion of comic book Superheroes, and a classic 1950s Lavender Robot will all be on board when Morphy Auctions presents an Aug. 12-13 auction of antique and vintage toys, banks, marbles and comics. More than 1,100 lots will be offered in the mid-summer sale, which will be held in Morphy’s plush new gallery on the Adamstown antique strip, one hour northwest of Philadelphia.


Kyser & Rex cast-iron Mammy with Spoon mechanical bank, red-dress version, patented 1884, est. $4,000-$7,000. Morphy Auctions image.

The fun begins with a selection of 80 cast-iron mechanical and still banks. The mechanical group is led by a coveted Kyser & Rex Mammy with Spoon (red-dress version) estimated at $4,000-$7,000, and a J. & E. Stevens football-theme Calamity bank, $4,000-$6,000. The “stills,” on the other hand, will be following a whimsical leader – a French cast-iron Standing Mickey embossed with the words “J. Manil Vieier Au Court.” Estimate: $1,000-$2,000.


A fleet of boxed, early to mid-1950s Banthrico still-bank vehicles will join a varied lineup of other vehicles that includes a Hubley cast-iron fire pumper ($600-$900) and a delightful Kyser & Rex cast-iron Santa with double-reindeer sleigh toy ($1,500-$3,000).


The bus stops at Morphy’s on Aug. 12 for the sale of one of the most comprehensive toy bus collections known. The Wayne Mathias collection includes more than 100 toy depictions of Greyhound, Continental Trailways and other buses. A scarce plastic mold of a Greyhound Scenicruiser – one of several that were sent to Greyhound’s top 50 sales offices in the late 1950s – is expected to make $1,000-$3,000.


American and European trains – both prewar and postwar – will be next across the auction block, with highlights including a standard gauge 400 series loco and tender ($1,500-$2,500) exemplifying the largest steam engine ever made by Lionel. A one of a kind, museum-quality motor coach train made in 1932 by Russel Nord of Quincy, Mass., was modeled after one of the first known passenger trains, the DeWitt Clinton. Estimate: $1,000-$3,000.


Displaying unmistakable Continental style, an array of 25 European tin toys includes such favorites as a Lehmann Zig-Zag

Tin Marklin coastal cannon toy, German, 9½ inches, est. $2,000-$4,000. Morphy Auctions image.

($800-$1,200) and a menagerie of fabric-over-tin Schuco wind-up toys. Two German-made Carette cars – one with a roof rack for luggage; the other an open tourer – come with figures of drivers and passengers. Their estimates range from $1,200 at the low end to $2,500 at the top.


The session’s second featured collection – coming from toy soldier aficionado Bud Ritter – features more than 50 sets of vintage and contemporary soldier, animal and civilian figures. Many of the sets were made by Britains and retain their original boxes.


Japanese old-store-stock tin friction toys and wind-up vehicles will motor past the podium, with premium lots to include an 18-inch 1961 Yonezawa Cadillac Fleetwood and an 11-inch red Cadillac convertible by Alps. Both are accompanied by beautiful pictorial boxes and carry individual estimates of $800-$1,200.


Gang of Five Non-Stop or ‘Lavender’ Robot, tin, battery operated, with original box, 15 inches tall, est. $4,000-$8,000. Morphy Auctions image.

More than a dozen robots await their day at auction, with the premier entry being a 15-inch Masudaya Non-Stop (a k a “Lavender”) Robot with its original multicolored pictorial box. This striking member of the Japanese large-bodied, postwar robots known collectively as the “Gang of Five” could realize $4,000-$8,000.


Saturday morning starts off with 150+ lots of marbles, including sulphides, swirls and lutzes. A very rare sulphide with the suspended figure of a flying bat could reach $2,000-$3,000.


Rare sulphide marble with suspended image of a well-detailed bat, est. $2,000-$3,000. Morphy Auctions image.

A great assortment of Schoenhut painted-wood character figures, animals and circus accessories has been apportioned in 35 lots. Two old-timers from the comic pages, Boob McNutt and Happy Hooligan, are dressed in their original clothing and are in excellent condition. Each was produced in 1924 and is estimated at $300-$600. The Schoenhuts are followed by 10 lots of Palmer Cox Brownie memorabilia.


Saturday’s session also contains a fine selection of 1960s-1980s old-store-stock toys, mostly in sealed boxes or on header cards, Flintstones and Jetsons figures and vehicles, 15 lots of military toys from a single collection, including rarely seen Soldier of Fortune sets; and early Disney tin and celluloid toys, watches and other memorabilia. A Capodimonte porcelain tableau depicting Snow White and Seven Dwarfs at the dinner table was created by Italian designer Enzo Arzenton, and is estimated at $1,500-$2,500.


Lionel Disney Mickey Mouse Circus Train, tin wind-up with all accessories, tent and original box, est. $4,000-$8,000. Morphy Auctions image.

An exceptional and complete Lionel Walt Disney Mickey Mouse Circus Train has its original tin wind-up train, colorfully decorated circus tent, gas station and other accessory pieces, including the all-important composition figure of circus barker Mickey. Described in the catalog as “one of the nicer sets we have ever offered for sale,” the factory-boxed set comes to auction with a $4,000-$8,000 estimate.


The Saturday session concludes with more than 300 lots of 1940s comic books, all from the original owner who purchased the comics brand new. All are fresh and ungraded, but there are several good candidates for grading, including 1948 Phantom Lady #17 ($600-$800), 1947 All Star Comics #33 ($700-$1,000), and 1941 Startling Comics#49, whose cover art features an

1948 Flash Comics #92, est. $1,000-$1,500. Morphy Auctions image.

Alex Schomburg image of a robot wading through water with a frightened woman in his arms ($800-$1,200).


All items auction items are currently available to preview at Morphy’s gallery. All forms of bidding will be available for this auction, including in person, by phone, absentee, and live via the Internet through Morphy Live or For further information call 717-335-3435 or email View the fully illustrated catalog and all other auction information online

Morphy Auctions opens sports memorabilia department

July 20th, 2011 by

Tom Sage Jr., chief operating officer of Morphy Auctions and head of the company’s new sports memorabilia department. Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, Pa. – Morphy Auctions’ CEO Dan Morphy has announced the addition of a full-service sports memorabilia department to his company’s growing roster of specialty divisions. The new department is supervised by Morphy’s chief operation officer Tom Sage Jr.


“We decided to open a sports department because of the increasing number of requests from collectors who wanted to consign their collections and game-used items,” said Sage. “We’ve incorporated sports memorabilia into our general and toy sales regularly over the past six or seven years, and we’ve also referred business to companies that specifically handle sports memorabilia, but we reached a point where there were so many inquiries, it was clearly time to start holding our own specialty sales.”


The plan is to conduct dedicated semiannual auctions of items from all major sports, including football, baseball, basketball, hockey, boxing, golf and more. In particular, Morphy’s sports sales will focus on Major League and collegiate game-used jerseys and other apparel; sports equipment, rings and jewelry; photographs and ephemera; and other quality collectibles with a connection to professional athletes.


Sage, a lifelong antique dealer and collector who began his career selling baseball cards in 1977, said a strong emphasis will be placed on provenance and authentication. “Buyers expect, and will receive, letters or certificates of authenticity when they buy game-used or autographed items from Morphy’s. We will be using the services of some of the sports memorabilia industry’s top authenticators in vetting the merchandise we sell.”


Morphy’s debut auction of sports memorabilia will take place this fall, with another sale to follow in spring of 2012. Consignments are currently being accepted. Call Tom Sage at 717-335-4571 or e-mail