Auction News

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

Morphy’s announces Sept. 21-22 auction of Adolph Grenke breweriana collection

May 8th, 2012 by


Premier 40-year collection of beer cans, signs, taps could bring well over $1 million


From the Adolph Grenke collection, an early 1940s Gibbons Bock Beer can, considered the nicer of two known examples. Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, Pa. – Dan Morphy, CEO of Morphy Auctions, has confirmed that the renowned Adolph Grenke breweriana collection will be auctioned in its entirety at Morphy’s gallery on Sept. 21-22, 2012.


“No other consignments will be added. The entire two-day sale will be devoted exclusively to this outstanding single-owner collection, which we anticipate will bring well over a million dollars,” said Morphy.


Amassed over a period of more than 40 years, the Grenke collection includes as many as 500 highly collectible vintage beer cans. The can collection is regarded as one of the finest collections of its kind ever assembled, with some of the cans expected to sell for $20,000 to $60,000 each.”


The collection also includes over 400 beer taps – with many expected to realize more than $1,000 each – and a bevy of colorful advertising signs. Highlights include over 50 Gillco glass light-up signs, and two examples of late-19th-century Anheuser-Busch signs of such rarity that they are not even represented in the famed St. Louis brewery’s archive.


“What makes the Grenke collection so exciting as a whole is its condition. Mr. Grenke always adhered to very strict buying guidelines. He bought only items that were in near-mint-plus condition or better. Even when something extremely rare was offered to him, he would pass if it did not satisfy his standards for condition,” said Morphy.


Because of the importance of the Grenke collection, Morphy has enlisted the services of two noted specialists to handle the grading and description of its contents. Dan Morean of will catalog the beer cans, while dealer/collector Les Jones will be in charge of the breweriana and advertising section of the sale.


Morphy Auctions will display highlights of the Adolph Grenke breweriana collection Aug. 1-4 at the 41st Annual National Assn. of Breweriana Advertising Convention, at the Springfield Hilton, Springfield, Ill.; and the Brewery Collectibles Club of America’s 42nd “CANvention,” Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at the Sheraton Springfield in Springfield, Mass.


Further details about the auction, as well as catalog-ordering information, will be available soon on Morphy Auctions’ website,

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

Auction-room fireworks expected at Morphy’s June 22-23 auction of George Moyer collection

May 7th, 2012 by

40-year collection includes spectacular array of vintage firecrackers, pyrotechnic rarities


Grizzly Bear 50-pack firecrackers, manufactured by Tai Lee Hong. Mint condition. Est. $1,000-$1,500. Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, Pa. – Fourth of July celebrations will begin early this year, with Morphy’s June 22-23 auction of the spectacular George Moyer collection of antique and vintage firecrackers.


Known and revered by “pyromaniacs” throughout the United States and abroad, Moyer’s 40-year collection consists of thousands of rare firecracker packs and label, salutes, consumer novelties, sparklers, caps and smaller tubed items. Additionally, there are posters, catalogs and salesmen’s sample boards, which were created to display products available to retailers in days gone by. One such catalog was published in the 19th century by Rochester Firework Co.


The entire, unpicked collection will be apportioned into more than 1,300 colorful lots, some containing multiple pieces. While the main focus of the collection is American-made fireworks, there are also items from England, India and Canada.


Moyer, who is a native and lifelong resident of Pottsville, Pa., owns an amusement machine company. “I made my fun my work,” he said with a laugh.

Balfour’s 40-pack firecrackers, manufactured by Balfour Guthrie & Co. Ltd., San Francisco. Mint condition. Est. $800-$1,200. Morphy Auctions image.


Moyer began collecting fireworks-related items at age 10. “I spotted a label on a pack where some boys were shooting off firecrackers. I picked it up and thought it was neat, so I started picking up more labels the same way, looking for them where kids were shooting them off,” he said.


In the early 1970s when Moyer acquired his first pack, there were no organized groups of collectors or publications devoted to the hobby. Collectors found each other through ads or would run into each other at general antique shows or toy shows, he said.


“Eventually we formed a little trading group, but it wasn’t till much later that there were collector club conventions,” said Moyer. “I would find things at antique shops, paper shows, through antique dealers, all sorts of methods. At yard sales I would always ask if they had any old firecrackers for sale. Of course, once the Internet became available, it opened up the whole hobby.”


Mercury 16-pack firecrackers, manufactured by Hing Cheong Yeung Hong, Portuguese Macau. Near-mint condition. Est. $500-$1,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Moyer’s interest in fireworks never waned. After completing high school and a stint in the military, he hooked up with a friend who had a professional fireworks company in New Jersey. Over the years, he has maintained his association with the company and is a licensed pyrotechnician who can legally set off fireworks at public events. “To this day, I still fire them off,” Moyer said.


Some of the earliest items contained in the Moyer collection are Chinese black-powder (gunpowder) firecrackers from the early 1800s. They are identifiable from their distinctive red labels with gold print. Black-powder firecrackers were phased out when flash crackers – which “blew up better” – were introduced, Moyer said.


The Moyer collection contains scores of rare labels that are sure to appeal to collectors. “I have many things in my collection that I believe most of my fellow collectors don’t even know exist,” said Moyer, who included selections from his personal stash in the beautiful full-color reference book he co-authored in 2000: Firecrackers – The Art & History.

Evergreen 16-pack firecracker. Est. $500-$1,000. Morphy Auctions image.


Among the rare packs and labels to be auctioned are titles including: Evergreen, Merry Go Round, Puppy, Ostrich, Gee Whiz, Marine Brand, Battleship, Fountain Brand and Tarzan. Especially appealing graphics are seen on Unexcelled Fireworks’ “Jester,” which depicts a court jester, “Round One,” whose label is illustrated with a gloved woman boxer seated in the corner of a boxing ring, and “Tally Ho,” a British production for the US market that shows a horse jumper with dog running alongside. Two Canadian highlights are “Ibex” (black powder), with the image of a mountain goat; and “Niagara,” which, as the name suggests, features an image of Niagara Falls.


Two other packs that are worthy of note are “Red Fox” and “Squirrel,” both manufactured by Wilfong Fireworks. Wilfong was a Texas company that made headlines in the early 1950s when its plant exploded and emitted a mushroom cloud that some locals mistook for an atomic bomb attack by the Soviets.


Tally Ho 32-pack firecrackers, manufactured by To Yiu. Est. $600-$800. Morphy Auctions image.

The collection includes three different types of Ft. McHenry salute boxes and a special display of firecrackers encased in glass so their distinctive wrapper designs are visible. A very rare and desirable box of Buck Rogers Disintegrators (salutes) is expected to attract crossover interest from space toy collectors. Its box cover is dominated by an illustration of the famous sci-fi hero brandishing a ray gun.


Moyer said his fellow collectors are going to be “very surprised” when they see one particular novelty slated for auction – a merry-go-round that, when lit and put into motion, spins around and concludes its performance with crackers firing off. Made by M. Backus & Sons of Wallingford, Ct., it is unused and in its original box – a rarity, said Moyer, because any fireworks item is “meant to be shot off; then it’s done.”

Buck Rogers firecrackers, 1937. Est. $300-$600. Morphy Auctions image.


Morphy Auctions CEO Dan Morphy said catalog pre-orders have been pouring in and that he expects a strong turnout of enthusiastic bidders for the June 22-23 auction.


“George Moyer is the world’s foremost collector of fireworks. He’s highly respected in the hobby,” Morphy said. “I’m sure bidders are going to go all out to try to win rare pieces from this remarkable 40-year collection, which is being offered at auction complete and unpicked. It’s one of a kind.”


Both the June 22 and 23 auction sessions will commence at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live or Note: Special conditions apply regarding the shipment of fireworks, which may not be sent through the US Postal Service. Further information about shipping of items in this sale will be posted soon on


A printed catalog will be available the week of May 28, and a fully illustrated electronic catalog will appear online by May 18 at and For additional information, call 717-335-3435 or e-mail Visit Morphy Auctions online at


Rago Arts and Auction Center – Fine Art Auctions

May 4th, 2012 by

19th/20th C. American & European Art, 10 a.m.
The Reingold Collection (following 19th/20th C. Art)
Post-War & Contemporary Art, 2:30 p.m.


Ivey – Selkirk – Auctioneers & Appraisers

May 4th, 2012 by

The last day to consign for these auctions is May 9th


Sotheby’s London – Old Master & British Paintings

May 4th, 2012 by

View sale results online at


Sotheby’s New York – African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art including Property from the Lerner, Shoher and Vogel Collections

May 4th, 2012 by

Sotheby’s will present a two-part sale of fine tribal art and artifacts on May 11, 2012.  The African art collection of the late Dr. Werner Muensterberger will comprise a significant portion of the auction, showcased alongside a host of other exquisite lots from the Lerner, Shoher, and Vogel Collections.



Sotheby’s New York – American Indian Art

May 4th, 2012 by

The May sale of American Indian Art will offer a diverse range of works from tribes of the Northwest Coast, Eskimo, Southwest, Plains, Great Lakes and Eastern Woodlands. The sale includes masks, figurative sculpture, amulets, rattles, pipes, basketry, textiles, pottery, functional objects such as cradles, clothing and weaponry. There is an emphasis on historic material from the 18th and 19th centuries. Highlights include a magnificent Paiute basket by Carrie Bethel, an early Creek bandolier bag, a rare painted Naskapi coat and an exceptional Tlingit headdress from the collection of Philip and Beatrice Gersh.











Sotheby’s – Art History

May 4th, 2012 by

The Scream sells for auction record