In The News
DENVER, Pa. – Worldwide competition for a high-end collection of antique toys resulted in a million-dollar gross at Morphy’s on July 16-17 as the central Pennsylvania auction house presented the 28-year collection of retired California architect Michael O’Hearn.
“Interest in the O’Hearn collection, and in all of the toy consignments for that matter, was fierce,” said auction house owner Dan Morphy. “The gallery was busy all day with in-house bidders, and we had the largest number of Internet bidders in Morphy’s history.” The final tally for the 1,354-lot sale was $1,050,000. All prices quoted are inclusive of 15% buyer’s premium.
A futuristic postwar Japanese friction racer known as the Atom Jet, measuring an impressive 25½ inches long, commanded a strong price due to its originality and excellent condition. Against an estimate of $4,000-$8,000 the bizarre, dorsal-finned vehicle finished in a mint green color sped across the finish line at $15,500.
A toy vehicle of quite a different type, a 21-inch-long red metal Ferrari made around 1952 by the Italian manufacturer Toschi, had the added appeal of a (reproduction) factory tag featuring the trademark Ferrari horse logo. With hopes of making $2,000-$3,000, the car confidently achieved that and more, closing its hood at $5,200.
Of a much earlier era, an early 20th-century German-made Karl Bub clockwork limousine, 10½ inches long with original lithographed driver, front headlights and gearshift levers on both sides of the front door, was won by an Internet bidder who paid $4,680.
A colorful fleet of toy ice cream trucks found favor in the midsummer sale. The bell rang loudest for a 7-inch tin friction truck made by the Japanese company HTC and emblazoned with advertising on both sides that says “Fresh Delicious Ice Cream.” Its bonus feature is a three-dimensional vendor figure that pops out to offer an ice cream cone when the truck is activated. Against an estimate of $700-$1,000, the truck scooped up a winning bid of $3,700.
Of the two-wheeled vehicles, a 15-inch-long Japanese tinplate Harley-Davidson friction motorcycle with smartly dressed and helmeted rider fared best. Made by I.Y. Metal Toys, the bike exhibited true, unfaded colors and crisp lithography. It rolled to the top of its estimate range at $4,900.
The last lot of the opening session hit a nostalgic note with those who could recall riding in Dad’s new car – a Ford – in the carefree 1950s. Made by Haji, the faithful depiction of a 1956 Ford Sunliner convertible in a snappy red and white color scheme with peppermint-striped seats came with its original pictorial box showing a young family out for a leisurely drive. One of the most desirable of all postwar Japanese tin cars and described as the same example shown in Dale Kelley’s book titled Collecting the Tin Toy Car, it easily glided past its $3,000-$6,000 estimate to a final bid of $7,500.
Character toys put in an impressive performance. A lot consisting of a pair of 80-year-old Amos & Andy walking toys, each 11 inches tall and with the correct individually named “Amos” or “Andy” box, sashayed to $5,200. In other character highlights, a 1932 Chein Popeye Heavy Hitter wind-up toy flexed its muscle at $4,300; while a rare and very charming painted-lead still bank fashioned as an early-style Mickey Mouse standing on a round of cheddar cheese earned every penny it deserved, with a winning bid of $4,600. The perennial popularity of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts characters was evidenced by the above-estimate $15,000 price paid for the artist’s original daily comic strip panel dated “5-2-1967.”
While toys were red hot, so were virtually all other categories in the sale. An exceptional single-owner collection of antique occupational shaving mugs attracted spirited bidding, with a china mug depicting a roofing contractor in his 1920s-vintage, spoke-wheeled truck taking top honors for the group at $16,100 – nearly five times the lot’s high estimate.
Yet another auction surprise was the $11,000 price fetched by a 10½-inch-tall cast-iron mechanical bank replicating a lighthouse of red brick. “It had everything going for it,” said Dan Morphy. “It was all original, in near-mint condition with strong red paint, and it was a form that isn’t seen very often.” The bank had been entered in the sale with a $3,000-$4,000 estimate.
There was a surge of bidding for early Coca-Cola advertising, such as the 1903 tinplate “pretty lady” tip tray that earned an $8,600 gratuity (est. $3,000-$5,000), and the 1940s cardboard sign of a bathing beauty sipping a Coke atop a beach blanket, $6,900 (est. $3,500-$4,500).
In other advertising, an Internet bidder claimed a convex porcelain Campbell’s Soup sign in near-mint condition for $8,190 (est. $4,000-$6,000); and a tin Robert Smith Ale sign featuring the image of a forward-leaping tiger met presale expectations at $5,500. A Hi-Ho Tobacco pocket tin with an image of scullers rowing past the Houses of Parliament on the River Thames reached the upper level of its estimate range at $4,600.
Dan Morphy Auctions has a full slate of Discovery and Specialty sales planned for the remainder of 2010, all of which are detailed on Morphy’s Web site. The company’s next Premier Auction, featuring antique toys, dolls, trains and advertising, will be held on Oct. 15 and 16. A special highlight of the sale is the antique, vintage and contemporary doll collection of the late Martha Cristol and her daughter, Merle Cristol Glickman.
Items from over 80+ consignors and various Important New England & Florida Estates to include Outrageous Carved Oak (Horner Quality) Dining Suites; Italian Renaissance Furniture; French Ormolu Furnishings; Important Continental Silver; Art Glass; 18th & 19th C Chests etc.; Danish Moderne; Fabulous China and Sterling Services; Period Lighting; Estate Fresh Oriental Carpets; Superior Estate Gold, Platinum & Diamond Jewelry. Also many original artworks, including pieces by John Hering, Hans Klat, Herbert Pollinger, Victor Vasarelly, Roy Nichols and David Anderson as well as more than 100 other important 18th – 20th C. Oils, Watercolors, Bronzes, Sculptures, Prints & Drawings. Note: Make sure to watch our website as this is only a sample. You will not want to miss this Spectacular Auction Sale! Quality Consignments are welcome for future Auction Events.
Old Toy Soldier Auctions chalks up ‘best sale to date’ as Thompson, Graham collections score top pricesJuly 16th, 2010 by admin
PITTSBURGH – Ray Haradin’s Old Toy Soldier Auctions operates in a world of miniature antiques, but prices on top lots were strictly big league in the company’s May 1 auction featuring the collections of John Graham (part III), brothers Bill and Don Thompson, and other consignors.
“At $229,000 with 99 percent of the lots sold, it was, by far, our best sale to date,” said Haradin. “I was thrilled with the result.”
The 645-lot auction inventory featured an extraordinary toy soldier collection that was established in the 1940s by two brothers from Chicago, Don and (the late) Bill Thompson. When their family moved to California in 1947, the boys’ carefully wrapped and boxed toys made the journey as well, but they would remain in quiet storage until 2009, when they were unwrapped and assessed for auction purposes.
“We got terrific prices on the Thompsons’ soldiers because they were very desirable, early pieces in fabulous condition,” Haradin said. “I think condition was the reason there were so many new bidders for this sale. I suspect many of them were younger people, too, since 47 percent of the purchases were made through the Internet.”
Among the highlights from the Thompson collection was an exceptionally rare version of Britains’ 1937 Coronation Coach Set #1476 containing a single figure of the uncrowned King Edward VIII. The 28-piece boxed set, which also included grooms, footmen and Yeomen of the Guard, topped its high estimate to settle at $5,015 (all prices quoted in this report are inclusive of 18% buyer’s premium).
Another lot with an Edward VIII connection consisted of a figure of the British monarch in his purple, ermine-trimmed Coronation robes. Made by Britains prior to the King’s abdication, the figure came in a box with both a yellow manufacturer’s label marked “King Edward VIII” and a Marshall Field department store $1 price sticker. In Old Toy Soldier’s sale, it concluded its bidding run majestically at $3,422.
There was widespread interest for a Haffner (German) 21-piece military set featuring Frederick the Great with mounted troops, two drummers, a flag bearer and other figures. The very rare ensemble mustered a winning bid of $3,186 against a presale estimate of $1,200-$1,500.
Competition was keen, as well, for knights produced by the British firm Courtenay. A signed and numbered (XX1) hand-painted figure known as “Le Borge de Prie” was pushed well beyond its $400-$600 estimate to close at $1,062.
An early production by the still-active British company King and Country depicted a dashing corps of Seaforth Highlanders in foreign active service dress, complete with piper and mounted officer. The 26-piece set garnered a within-estimate price of $590.
Unlike W. Britains, whose origins date to the mid-Victorian era, King and Country was a late entry on the toy soldier playing field, Haradin said. “They started in the early 1980s but didn’t become popular till the mid-1990s. Now they rival Britains in sales and maybe even surpass them. There’s a very dedicated following for this brand when it’s offered in our auctions. Newer collectors want to buy the pieces that came out before they got into the hobby.”
Speaking of the playing field, bidders came from all directions to pursue a seldom-seen Cherilea postwar baseball set featuring 11 figures, including a black-suited umpire. In its original, colorfully lithographed box and with each of the pieces still tied in place, the like-new set estimated at $1,800-$2,400 crossed home plate in championship style at $4,425.
Other notable boxed sets in the auction included a Britains 8-piece prewar “Los Rurales de la Federaction” Mexican Infantry Set #186, $1,770; a 1937-1941 British Army Active Service Display Set #1328, also by Britains, $1,298; and a postwar Mignot (French) 6-piece “Gardes du Corps du Roi” set #294 featuring an officer, trumpeter and standard bearer, $325.
“What impressed me most about this sale was that it was strong across the board. We made sure we catered to every type of collector, and we didn’t note softness in any category,” Haradin said.
Old Toy Soldier Auctions is expanding its operations. Joe Saine of Toledo, Ohio, an expert in both new and old toy soldiers, is joining the company’s staff to assist with future sales. Additionally, OTSA will conduct its first-ever two-day sale over the weekend of Nov. 20-21. The auction will feature part I of the late Fred Wehr’s collection, which contains many rare, early Britains, approximately 140 King and Country sets, German-made Heyde figures, and an extensive selection of figures by Bill Hocker, a boutique manufacturer from California whose contemporary toy soldiers are often favorably compared to Britains.