Archive for December, 2011

Don Presley’s New Year’s auction features sterling, Asian art, clocks and Scottish Rite’s treasured antique marble sculpture ‘Paetus et Aria’

December 20th, 2011 by

Antique marble copy of ‘The Gaul Killing Himself and His Wife,’ a k a ‘Paetus et Aria,’ 94 inches tall, 42 inches wide inclusive of custom-made marble base. Provenance: Collection of the Scottish Rite Library & Museum. Estimate $40,000-$75,000. Don Presley Auctions image.

ORANGE, Calif. – A superb European sculpture unveiled at the Los Angeles Scottish Rite Cathedral on Christmas Day of 1913 is the highlight of Don Presley’s Dec. 31-Jan. 1 New Year’s Auction. The sale features 1,000 lots of antiques, Asian and other fine art, plus a bumper selection described by Presley as “a gallery of amusements.”


The headliner – a Carrara marble grouping known variously as ‘Paetus et Aria,’ ‘The Gaul Killing Himself and His Wife,’ and ‘The Galatian Suicide’ – is a copy of the Hellenistic 3rd century B.C. original by Epignonos, ex Boncompagni Ludovisi Collection. In 1900, the Italian State purchased the original – and 103 other sculptures – from the royal Boncompagni Ludovisi family for ensconcement in the Pergamum Museo Nazionale at Palazzo Altemps.


A deaccession from the Scottish Rite Library & Museum, the antique copy of the famous Greek statue in Presley’s sale – whose exact age is unknown – comes with a written history from Masonic archives. In its post-Christmas 1913 “Bulletin to the Los Angeles Consistory,” an article describes the statue – a gift from Scottish Rite member V.M. William Rhodes Hervey – as “one of the finest marbles in America, not unworthy of being the center of [the Cathedral’s] collection of statuary, pictures and books.”


The statue measures 94 inches tall by 42 inches wide, inclusive of custom-made marble base, and is expected to make $40,000-$75,000 at auction.


Pair of antique Chinese huanghuali chairs in mint condition, previously in a Los Angeles residence. Est. $15,000-$25,000.

Presley’s New Year’s sale also features an extensive selection of top-quality ivory and Asian antiques. A pair of coveted Chinese huanghuali chairs in spotless condition came from a Los Angeles residence. Auctioneer Don Presley explained that one reason chairs of this type are so scarce is because the wood from which they are constructed is only rarely found in pieces large enough to be used in furniture.


“Huanghuali chairs were made for emperors and royalty from exotic hardwoods in the rosewood family that have an especially beautiful grain and pattern of knots,” Presley said. “They can fetch high prices at auction. We have placed a conservative estimate of $15,000-$25,000 on the chairs consigned to our sale.”


Another Asian highlight is a 19th-century carved bone over wood statue of Guanyin. The figure, which has an ivory face and hands, holds a candle and has a phoenix (bird) ornament in its hair. It carries an estimate of $8,000-$15,000.


Rolex Daytona wristwatch, Model 16520 with Zenith movement, original box, est. $12,000-$20,000. Don Presley Auctions image.

Approximately 200 antique clocks will be auctioned, including 40 more from the same Beverly Hills collection that highlighted Presley’s Nov. 5-6 sale. The grouping includes French and other European clocks, carriage, boulle and tortoiseshell; champleve, gilt-bronze, jewel-face and American clocks (Tiffany, Ansonia, etc.). There are also a few wall and mantel clocks.


Several impressive diamonds, sized from 2 to 3 carats each, add a fine edge to the sale, as does a Rolex Daytona Model 16520 Oyster Perpetual man’s wristwatch with Zenith movement. With original box, the classic timepiece could realize $12,000-$20,000.


An Art Deco sterling silver tea set marked “Jimenez” is a premier example of Mexican craftsmanship. The teapot and accessory pieces are stamped ‘Sterling 925’ and have a fluted exterior, while the stamped tray is adorned by a substantial, wide repousse trim. The stylish set weighs in at 159.6 troy ounces and is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.


Art deco sterling silver tea set, Mexican, marked ‘Jimenez,’ 159.6 troy ounces. Est. $8,000-$12,000. Don Presley Auctions image.

The perfect furnishing in which to display a tea set of such quality is the 19th-century bronze ormolu vitrine that comes to the auction from a residence in the exclusive Orange Park Acres section of Orange County. With cartouches hand painted in the vernis Martin style, and with its original glass intact, the elegant vitrine could fetch $4,000-$6,000.


Don Presley has amassed an assortment of unusual amusements for his Dec. 31-Jan. 1 sale. Several were featured on the History Channel’s new show Real Deal, which is taped at Presley’s gallery. They include a 1957 Williams “Deluxe Baseball” pinball machine, est. $3,500-$5,500; and a fully documented circa-1891 binnacle from the Spanish flagship Infanta Maria Teresa, $15,000-$25,000. A third item that appeared on Real Deal is a circa-1900 medical device called a “nebulizer.” Presley explained that the device was used in upscale medical or dental practices and produced a mist for inhalation by patients. Estimate: $1,200-$1,800.


Circa-1900 nebulizer, 46in. tall, used in upscale medical or dental practices to produce mist to be inhaled by patients. Restored, retains original bottles. Featured on History Channel’s ‘Real Deal.’ Est. $1,200-$1,800. Don Presley Auctions image.

A special transportation attraction that would be right at home at Knott’s Berry Farm is a Butterfield stagecoach, 3/4 size, made around 1942 for use in parades, rodeos and other festive events. The vehicle has perfect wheels, is leather slung with barrel sides and even has lanterns to accommodate candles, in the manner of 19th-century stagecoaches. The auction estimate is $25,000-$30,000. For those who favor the Mod era, a pair of zippy 1960s Vespa scooters may fit the bill, with an estimate of $2,000-$3,000 apiece.


Additional entries of note include a Capodimonte chess set on a wood base with bronze ormolu, est. $1,500-$2,500; a sizable collection of Roseville, Bauer and other California pottery; fine porcelains, various other fine and decorative-art objects; and 200 Hummel figurines. A 5ft. 6in. electric automaton organ grinder and monkey comes with cassettes to provide a musical accompaniment.


Both the Saturday and Sunday sessions will commence at 12 noon Pacific Time. Preview Mon.-Sat. 10-5. The gallery is located at 1319 W. Katella Ave., Orange, CA 92867. All forms of bidding will be available, including live at the gallery, by phone, absentee or live via the Internet through For additional information, call Don Presley at 714-633-2437 or e-mail Visit the company’s website at



Stephenson’s brings out the good silver for a sparkling New Year’s Day auction

December 19th, 2011 by

Sale includes 200-pc. Georg Jensen service, rare early 18th-century English silver


A selection of forks and knives from a Georg Jensen sterling silver flatware service, Acorn pattern, numbering more than 200 pieces. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image.

SOUTHAMPTON, Pa. – An array of 18th-century Britannia standard silver and one of the most extensive Georg Jensen flatware services to see the auction block in many years will headline Stephenson’s New Year’s Day Antiques & Decorative Arts sale.


The suburban Philadelphia auctioneers specialize in estate antiques and art. Often, they are called upon to assess and auction the contents of grand residences on Philadelphia’s “Main Line.” That’s where the New Year’s silver trove was sourced – from the home of a prosperous family that owned a yarn goods company during the early to mid 20th century.


From a Georg Jensen sterling silver flatware set in the Acorn pattern, eight emerald-enameled salts with spoons and a pair of tongs. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image.

The Jensen sterling flatware set consists of more than 200 pieces in the coveted Acorn pattern and includes numerous serving and accessory pieces, most notably an octet of emerald-enameled salts with individual spoons. The service has remained in the same family since 1941.


“An estimate of $20,000 for a service of this quality and size would not be the least bit unreasonable, especially when factoring in the considerable cachet of the Georg Jensen name,” said Stephenson’s owner, Cindy Stephenson.


A formidable array of early 18th-century English sterling silver tea caddies. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image.

The Philadelphia estate also produced a sizable selection of antique English silver, including tea caddies by Anthony Nelme (circa 1720) and Edward Gibbons (circa 1726). Two matching Thomas Ash Britannia standard Queen Anne tea caddies date to 1711 and were purchased by a member of the Philadelphia family in 1944, from New York’s Parke-Bernet Galleries. A third Queen Anne caddy in the collection was crafted by Ash around 1708.


Other English sterling highlights from the estate include a 1780 William Cafe dish cross with pierced center for a spirit lamp, an 1821 dish cross by William Plummer and a pair of Britannia standard silver casters made by around 1720 Thomas Bamford.


(Left) 1821 dish cross by William Plummer and (right) 1780 William Cafe dish cross with pierced center for spirit lamp. Both were purchased in 1945 from James Robinson Inc., New York. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image.

“This collection of silver was obviously a family treasure. Over the years the pieces were appraised multiple times. We have documents for several appraisals conducted by Freeman’s in the 1970s,” said Stephenson.


The New Year’s Day silver offering continues with fine sterling from additional consignors. Key pieces include a J. Lewis American coin silver clamshell serving spoon, a vegetable bowl, and a Wallace Grand Baroque flatware service for 12 that is expected to realize at least $2,500.


Nakashima 1954 walnut sofa from a living room suite to be auctioned in three lots. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image.

Several prized furniture designs by Japanese-American architect and master craftsman George Nakashima came to Stephenson’s from a Philadelphia-area estate. All had been purchased new in 1954. A walnut living room suite of quintessential Nakashima style will be apportioned into three auction lots: an armless sofa, armchair with footstool, and sidechair.


A special highlight of the sale is a collection of 16 beautiful duck decoys carved and signed by D.W. “Davey” Nichol (1890-1977) of Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada. Inspired by members of his family who were accomplished carvers, Nichol began creating decoys in the 1950s, purely for his personal collection. After his talent was discovered by other collectors, Nichol could barely keep up with the demand for his elegant, hand-carved and painted waterfowl. During the second half of the 20th century, Nichol’s decoys won many prizes and were displayed in prestigious exhibitions, including at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.


Collection of 16 hand-carved and painted duck decoys by D.W. “Davey” Nichol (1890-1977) of Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image.

“We feel privileged that we were chosen to sell this collection, which came from a Montgomery County (metro Philadelphia) estate,” said Stephenson. “It very easily could have gone to an auction house that specializes in decoys.”


The Jan. 1 auction is brimming with a variety of antiques, art and jewelry from upscale estates. Selected highlights from the sale’s many different categories include a Steinway & Sons walnut Model B grand piano, a McClellan saddle, a chic pearl and diamond bracelet, and an exquisite sterling powder jar with guilloche lavender enameling and a hand-painted courting scene on its lid.


Stephenson’s Jan. 1 auction will commence at 11 a.m. at the company’s gallery located at 1005 Industrial Blvd., Southampton, PA 18966. Inspection is on Thursday, Dec. 29 from 3-6 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 30 from 12 noon to 2 p.m.; and on auction day, Sunday, Jan. 1 from 10 a.m. till the start of the sale.

From a Philadelphia-area estate, a quadruple-strand pearl and diamond bracelet. Stephenson’s Auctioneers image.


On Tuesday, Dec. 27, commencing at 5 p.m., Stephenson’s will host an open house preview and lecture by Janet Drucker, America’s foremost authority on the subject of Georg Jensen silver and author of the book Georg Jensen: A Tradition of Splendid Silver. Drucker’s PowerPoint presentation will focus on Jensen flatware and the classic Acorn pattern.


“We felt that both dealers and collectors of Jensen silver would be interested in hearing Janet’s presentation, especially since there will be an extensive Jensen silver service in the Acorn pattern on view at the gallery,” said Stephenson.


All forms of bidding will be available for the Jan. 1 auction, including live in the gallery, absentee, by phone or live via the Internet through View the fully illustrated catalog online at


For additional information on any lot in the sale, call Cindy Stephenson at 215-322-6182 or e-mail Visit Stephenson’s online at

Marklin boat, Ives man on rocking horse top the parade of toys at Bertoia’s $1.55M auction, Nov. 11-12

December 14th, 2011 by

Top lot of the sale: Ives cloth-dressed man on tin rocking horse, ex Tom Anderson collection, $39,100. Bertoia Auctions image.

VINELAND, N.J. – Collectors in a quest to find rare antique toys in superior condition struck gold at Bertoia’s Nov. 11-12 Toys on World Tour auction, which realized $1,550,000 (inclusive of 15% buyer’s premium). The 1,502-lot sale was very well attended, with phone bidders keeping Bertoia’s staff members constantly engaged. Internet bidding played a major role in the auction’s success, as well. The daily average of purchases attributable to online buyers was 27.4%.


Cast-iron toys proved to be a category with resiliency, as evidenced by the setting of several world auction records. “I would say that at this auction cast iron was not only back, but back to the future. That’s how strong it was,” said Bertoia Auctions associate Rich Bertoia. “The Donald Kaufman auction series, which grossed over twelve million dollars, seems to have reignited the fever of collecting cast iron. We even saw a few new players at the sale.”


Circa-1932 Arcade cast-iron Mack dump truck, ex Larry Seiber collection, finest of all known examples, $17,250. Bertoia Auctions image.

A circa-1932 Arcade cast-iron rendition of a Mack dump truck in bright red and yellow, came with provenance from the respected Larry Sieber collection, Considered the finest known specimen of its type, the 9-inch, near-mint truck claimed the top spot in its category at $17,250.


Having passed through Bertoia’s gallery before, during the Kaufman series, a 17-inch Kenton cast-iron “Speed” truck painted green with a stake-side open body toppled its previous auction price to sell for $12,650 against an estimate of $6,000-$7,500. “There were many other pieces from both the Don Kaufman and Dick Ford collections that followed that same pattern, selling for much more than they had in recent auctions. They still had their previous Bertoia tags on them,” Rich Bertoia noted.


Marklin ‘Avalanche’ tinplate clockwork gunboat, 16 inches long, $41,400. Bertoia Auctions image.

Another surprise was the buoyant prices achieved by German clockwork tin boats. “Normally in a single auction we don’t get as many all-original or nearly all-original boats of such outstanding quality, but it happened this time,” said Bertoia.


An exceptionally well-scaled Marklin “Avalanche” painted in light blue and with all four lifeboats, two stacks, flags and other original accessories had no trouble sailing to $41,400 against an estimate of $20,000-$22,000. Other big winners by Marklin included a “Puritan” oceanliner, $23,000; “Columbia” battleship (partially restored), $18,400; and 1930s “Freya” battleship, $17,250 against an estimate of $8,000-$10,000.


Additional European tin toys that won favor with bidders included a Hans Eberl two-seat clockwork tourer with turbaned driver, clown passengers, and Punch & Judy and other clown images lithographed on its exterior panels. Estimated at $600-$750, the vibrantly colorful open car made $10,925. An earlier production dating to around 1900, a Guntherman 12-inch vis-à-vis with hand-painted driver figure surpassed its estimate to reach $5,175.


Circa-1870s Fallows American hand-painted tin wagon advertising ‘Fancy Goods, Toys & Notions,’ $10,350. Bertoia Auctions image

“What was interesting about the European toys is that there were many Europeans on the phones who were extremely competitive but could not win against bidders in the room. It seemed that the estimates didn’t matter,” said Bertoia.


Over the past decade, the market for early American tin toys has confirmed that demand continues to exceed supply for rare and fine examples. A nice selection of this specialty was included in Bertoia’s sale, with the leading piece being an extremely rare Ives Man on Rocking Horse, ex Tom Anderson collection, that raced past its $6,000-$8,000 estimate to cross the finish line at $39,100.


Of the collection of biscuit tins offered, “those in great condition brought great money,” Bertoia said. A circa-1920 W. Crawford & Sons “Fire Brigade” tin – one of the featured items on Bertoia’s auction catalog cover – benefited from crossover bidding from firefighting fans and commanded $6,900 (est. $1,000-$1,200). One of only two or three known examples of a tin pram with baby and golliwog lithographed on its lid was a runaway favorite and earned $6,325 against an estimate of $700-$900.


Hand-painted cast-iron doorstop depicting snow-capped cottage, book example, $5,175. Bertoia Auctions image.

Almost every sale conducted by Bertoia’s features an array of excellent-quality cast-iron doorstops. The Nov. 11-12 offering included a charming rarity: a snow-capped yellow cottage with hand painting reminiscent of Grandma Moses’ primitive New England style. The doorstop was a book example and had been entered in the sale with a $1,200-$1,600 estimate. “Apparently there were many bidders who wanted this doorstop for their collections. It sold for $5,175,” said Bertoia Auctions’ owner Jeanne Bertoia, who is, herself, a renowned expert and author on the subject of antique doorstops.


Other sale highlights included an Asahi 1962 Chrysler Imperial tin car in rich cobalt blue, $6,900; and a 30-inch-tall, signed Vichy automaton of a beautiful lady with hand mirror. Superbly modeled and painted, with a Jumeau bisque head accented by pearl “drop” earrings, the elegantly dressed automaton soared to $18,400 against an estimate of $6,000-$9,000.

Figural foot-shape Halloween lantern, $4,025. Bertoia Auctions image.


The much-anticipated selection of Christmas antiques attracted bidders across the board, but most especially toward the rarely seen antiques. “Collectors are waiting for the great things to come out, and they’ll pay the price to get them,” said Rich Bertoia.


The Christmas section was led by a late-19th-century chalkware belsnickle, 22 inches tall, painted in brown and red with holly and berries on the hood of its knee-length coat. Estimated at $10,000-$12,000, it was pushed competitively to $18,400.


Bertoia’s Spring Auction will be held March 23-24, 2012 and will feature doorstops from the Chuck and Barbara Cook collection, comic character toys from the Ronnie Rosen collection, cast-iron rarities from a private collection, Lehmann and Martin windups, steam engines and many other choice pieces. For additional information call 856-692-8697, e-mail, or visit

Dan Ripley’s Antique Helper – Second Tuesday Express Auction

December 12th, 2011 by

Second Tuesday Express Auction December 13th. More info. at:

Louis J Dianni Auctions & Marine Art – Palm Beach Auction

December 12th, 2011 by


Morphy’s to launch Comic Book division with superhero selection in Feb. 9-11 auction

December 8th, 2011 by

The Amazing Spider-Man No. 1, 1963, CGC-graded 8.5 with off-white pages, to be auctioned in Morphy’s Feb. 9-11, 2012 auction. Estimate: $25,000-$30,000. Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, Pa. – With the widely publicized $2.1 million auction price achieved recently by a rare copy of Action Comics No. 1, some investors are contemplating a shift of focus from gold and silver to paper. Vintage comic books – once considered a niche collectable for nostalgic boomers – have become a potent alternative to stocks and bonds. In recognizing this trend, Morphy Auctions recently forged an alliance with the specialist company Sparkle City Comics, of North Bergen, New Jersey.


Morphy’s, with the expert oversight of Sparkle City, will launch its new Comic Book division during a Feb. 9-11 Toys & Advertising sale that features 200 prized comics from an original-owner collection. The top lot, a 1963 The Amazing Spider-Man No. 1 in 8.5 condition, is expected to realize $25,000-$30,000. Other anticipated top lots include a 1963 X-Men No. 1 and a 1963 Tales of Suspense No. 39 featuring the first appearance of Iron Man.


The association between Morphy’s and Sparkle City came about when the latter company’s principal, Brian Schutzer, purchased $40,000 worth of comics in a previous Morphy’s sale.


“Brian called me after the sale to finalize his purchase, and during our discussion he suggested that we consider building a relationship,” Morphy Auctions’ CEO Dan Morphy recalled. “I had been wanting to launch a comic book division in-house, and during that conversation with Brian, it became clear to me that the smartest and most direct path to our goal would be a collaboration with Sparkle City. They’re an energetic, extremely knowledgeable company with a tremendous database of comic book buyers.”


“On the other side of the coin, Morphy’s has the physical gallery and marketing team to promote and produce successful live sales,” Morphy continued. “It’s an exciting combination that could prove very successful, given collectors’ insatiable interest in rare comics.”


Morphy’s first auction dedicated exclusively to comic books will be a 700 to 800-lot event held either in April or May. “My goal is to have two, if not three, sales per year devoted exclusively to vintage comic books and also original comic book art, a subcategory that has a long collecting arc ahead of it,” Morphy said.


To contact Morphy’s, call 717-335-3435 or e-mail Online:

Swann Galleries – Important Photobooks & Photographs

December 8th, 2011 by

Swann Galleries’ auction of Important Photobooks & Photographs on Tuesday, December 13 features beautiful and poignant images and books ranging from the earliest photographs to works by artists living and working today.

Highlights include:

Among the photobooks, Edwin Hale Lincoln’s lavishly illustrated Wild Flowers of New England Photographed from Nature, a complete set of 8 volumes with 400 platinum prints, one of perhaps 50 copies of the self-published work, 1910-14 (detail top right).

William Eggleston’s 2 1/4, a limited-edition book featuring the artist’s early color photographs, with a signed print. One of 50 copies, 1999.

A large selection of New York City photographs including Harry Callahan’s Untitled (World Trade Center), a silver print, 1974.

Stephen Shore’s Ginger Seippel, Miami, Florida, a C-print, 1977, printed 1980.

Aaron Siskind’s Viterbo Broom portfolio, containing 18 abstract photographs, all silver prints, 1967

Milhous Collection, offered by RM Auctions in association with Sotheby’s

December 8th, 2011 by

The Milhous Museum, compiled over the past fifty years by brothers Bob and Paul Milhous, focuses on rare and important automobiles, mechanical music, and collectibles, boasting one of the world’s most notable assemblies of orchestrions, fair, dance and theater organs.  RM Auctions, in association with Sotheby’s, is delighted to offer the Milhous Collection in situ at auction on February 24-25, 2012.

The collection began in 1959 with Paul’s purchase of a player piano; meanwhile Bob honed his interest in desirable motor cars.  His first purchase was a 1934 Packard Eight Convertible Victoria, which won awards at all major concours events including ‘Best of Show’ at the prestigious 1976 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  Since then, they have accumulated over 30 fine automobiles – from high-horsepower Brass era cars to coachbuilt classics and Indianapolis racing cars – and over 100 mechanical musical instruments.

The latter group is highlighted by the renowned Weber Maesto orchestrion, an exceptionally large instrument replete with a Feurich piano, xylophone, drums, traps, and endless pipes (est. $900,000 – $1,200,000).  The Weber Maesto is also very rare, with only seven known to exist, four of which are in museums.  Perhaps one of the most decoratively appealing and whimsical of the instruments is the Ruth Style 32-B Fair Organ by A. Ruth & Söhne of Germany, with carvings of animated flute and guitar players, bell ringers, a bandleader, swans, satyrs, cherubs and angels playing herald trumpets (est. $1,000,000 – $1,200,000).

Central to the collection is the Illions-style carousel built over the course of four years for the Milhous Collection and featuring 44 intricate animal figures carved by hand from historically accurate designs ($1,000,000 – $1,500,000).  An extensive assortment of petroliana, neon and porcelain signs and rare and unique gasoline-powered tether cars and models adds to the collection’s variety.  Furthermore, the Museum features decorative pieces from Louis Icart, Alphonse Mucha, and Tiffany & Co., and ornate hall clocks, tower clocks and street clocks from makers like Seth Thomas & Howard and Black, Starr & Frost.

RM Auctions, in association with Sotheby’s, looks forward to offering the contents of the museum on premises this February.  For more information, please visit

Extremely rare Panama-Pacific $50 gold coin leads Morphy’s Dec. 17 Coin & Sports Memorabilia auction lineup

December 8th, 2011 by

View of both sides of extremely rare 1915 Panama-Pacific $50 gold coin, est. $120,000-$150,000. Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, Pa. – Two of America’s most popular collecting categories – coins and sports memorabilia – will join forces for an outstanding 866-lot auction on Dec. 17 at Morphy’s.


“Certain types of collectibles never seem to lose favor,” said Morphy’s CEO, Dan Morphy. “Coins have been a favorite with collectors and investors for many generations, and important memorabilia from professional and collegiate sports just keep on setting new records at auction. We decided to put the two categories together for a holiday auction that many collectors could enjoy.”


The Dec. 17 auction starts with a collection of more than 320 lots of silver and gold coins, and currency. The centerpiece of the numismatic offering is an extremely rare Panama-Pacific International Exposition octagonal $50 gold coin that was struck in 1915. Graded MS65 (mint state) by PCGS, the coin is expected to make $120,000-$150,000.


There’s quite a story behind the Panama-Pacific coins, and it’s entwined in the lore of one of America’s greatest cities: San Francisco. Six years after the devastating earthquake of 1906, the “City by the Bay” was in dire need of an economic boost. It came in the form of the 1915 World’s Fair, also known as the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Many cities had vied for the right to host the event, with New Orleans being one of the favored contenders. After an intense advertising and lobbying campaign, however, President Taft proclaimed earthquake-ravaged San Francisco as the official host city.


The fairgrounds and buildings took three years to construct, providing much-needed jobs for out-of-work San Franciscans. The project sparked a revitalization that changed San Francisco forever, putting it on the map as one of America’s greatest and most cultured cities.


2011 Chinese Panda gold coin, 1/300, ultra cameo, weighs 1kg (2.23 lbs.), est. $120,000-$150,000. Morphy Auctions image.

The Panama-Pacific International Exposition ran from Feb. 20 through Dec. 4, 1915, and to commemorate the fair, the United States Government authorized the San Francisco Mint to issue a $50 gold coin depicting Balboa on the obverse and an owl encircled by dolphins on verso.


“Very few of these coins were made, and an example graded this high – a ‘70’ is perfect and impossible to find – is very exciting to collectors. Today, it’s common for commemorative coins to be issued, but that wasn’t the case back then,” said Dr. John Morphy, Head of Acquisitions & Appraisals for Morphy Auctions.


In total, more than a million dollars worth of gold and silver coins will be auctioned in Morphy’s Dec. 17 sale. Another rarity that’s expected to stir interest amongst bidders is a 2011 Chinese panda gold coin, one of only 300 made, which weighs one kilo (2.23 lbs.) and is valued at $130,000-$150,000.


1896 Liberty $5 gold coin, est. $23,000-$30,000. Morphy Auctions image.

The sale also features more than 100 BU rolls of silver dollars with rare dates including 1891 CC, 1882 CC, 1883 CC, 1889 S, 1897 S, and 1899. Among the more than 80 gold coins are an 1855 D 2½ dollar AU 53, 1879 $5 PF 64+ Cameo NGS, 1896 $5 PCGS PR 64D CAM, 1857 S $20 double eagle PCGS MS 61, 12 oz. Panda and more than 100 limited gold commemorative sets.


Additional lots include 1902 National Bank notes, 5 uncut sheets PCGS 69, Tyler Texas; and many types of other coins, among them a 1909 S VDB cent, 1955 double-die cent, and a 3-legged buffalo nickel.


Autographed and worn Mickey Mantle golf jacket, framed, acquired through Mantle’s personal attorney. Comes with LOA from PSA DNA, est. $2,000-$4,000. Morphy Auctions image.

The second half of the Dec. 17 session is devoted to sports memorabilia. There are early baseball and football buttons, pennants and some bobbing-head dolls, including Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Roberto Clemente. Hartland collectors will find themselves spoiled for choice with the array of boxed figures that includes Babe Ruth, Yogi Berra, Don Drysdale, John Arnett and others. Some non-sport figures, such as cowboy and historical Hartlands in original boxes, will join their sports counterparts.


Sporting equipment is abundant and includes some great baseball gloves in scarce original boxes, plus autographed game-used and store-model baseball bats. One of the highlights of the sale is an unusual grouping of approximately 50 Mickey Mantle autographed items, some limited edition and most originating from Mickey Mantle’s girlfriend Greer Johnson, and Mantle’s personal attorney. The autographed Mantle items include framed prints, gloves, bats, balls and his personal golf jacket.


Boxing trunks worn and autographed by Muhammad Ali, est. $1,000-$2,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Boxing fans should get their bidding cards ready for a pair of autographed Muhammad Ali Everlast boxing trunks and autographed lace-up boxing shoes. These extremely desirable items were worn by the legendary Ali and donated to a public auction 30+ years ago. The shoes are inscribed in blue pen: “From Muhammad Ali June 5-80 The Greatest Boxer of All Times.”


Sports-related ephemera will also make an appearance in the sale in the form of a personal collection of the historical publication “The Sporting News.” There are several hundred issues with cover dates ranging from the 1930s through the 1980s. In some cases, there are runs of entire years.


One of only two known examples of a 1928 Harrington’s Ice Cream card with the image of baseball player Earl Smith, est. $10,000-$20,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Also crossing the auction block are baseball coins, tobacco cards and various-era baseball cards, including an extremely rare 1928 Harrington’s Ice Cream redemption card with the image of baseball player Earl Smith. Other standout cards feature Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. There are also some fine lots of graded and ungraded cards from the 1950s through present day. Also, a big selection of unopened wax boxes and cases include baseball, basketball and hockey cards.


Always-popular player-endorsed items include a Jackie Robinson doll in the original box and a very scarce circa-1930 Babe Ruth brass locker tag. In summary, the sports section runs the gamut from sports-related advertising signs and Major League memorabilia to coveted autographed items, which include letters of authenticity.


All forms of bidding will be available for the Dec. 17 auction, including live in the gallery, absentee, by phone, or live via the Internet through Morphy Live or


For additional information about the coins, e-mail For questions pertaining to sports memorabilia, e-mail tom@morphyauctions. To reach the gallery, call 717-335-3435.


Holiday fun awaits bidders at Stephenson’s Dec. 16 Dolls, Trains & Toys auction

December 7th, 2011 by

Lionel standard gauge No. 400E steam locomotive and No. 392T tender. Stephenson’s image.

SOUTHAMPTON, Pa. – An old-fashioned American Christmas traditionally includes a statuesque, fragrant tree, topped by either an angel or star and accompanied by a vintage toy train that chugs energetically around its base to announce that Santa has arrived.


Finding the perfect train to complete the classic holiday scenario is as easy as bidding in Stephenson’s Dec. 16 auction, which contains hundreds of classic loco/tenders, boxed sets and coveted accessories by Lionel, American Flyer and other revered names. Nearly all of the train lots have come from three multi-generational estates in the Greater Philadelphia area.


Selections from the approximately 75 lots of European and American dolls and group lots of doll clothing, dishes and reference books. Stephenson’s image.

“Our business is based on auctioning contents of estates or homes whose owners are downsizing,” said Cindy Stephenson, owner of Stephenson’s Auctioneers. “We set aside the best toys and trains from those estates to offer in specialty sales held a few times a year. The pre-Christmas train and toy session is always very popular with collectors.”


The Friday, Dec. 16 Dolls, Trains & Toys auction, which will start at 2 p.m. Eastern time, opens with approximately 75 doll lots, including antique and vintage examples of both European and American manufacture. The selection features German bisque-head and composition dolls, a Shirley Temple doll in a middy dress, Barbies, a Skookum Native-American doll with papoose, a Mori Mora Bros. character doll, and groupings of miniature dolls. Doll clothing and dishes, and doll reference books round out the section.


Lionel standard gauge No. 408E electric locomotive. Stephenson’s image.

The bulk of the auction consists of estate trains and toys. An extensive array of early Lionel standard gauge trains includes a No. 408E electric locomotive, a No. 384E steam locomotive and tender; Mojave passenger cars, freight cars and a No. 400E steam locomotive with No. 392T tender – the big boy of the standard gauge era.


Lionel prewar O gauge passenger set with No. 253 locomotive, two No. 607 Pullman coaches and a No. 608 observation car. Stephenson’s image.

O gauge fans won’t want to overlook the two No. 2333-20 Santa Fe engines and a prewar passenger set featuring a No. 253 locomotive, two No. 607 Pullman cars and a #608 observation car.


American Flyer aficionados won’t be left out in the cold, either. The brand is well represented by a boxed Mountaineer No. 20320 set.


An always sought-after, original Lionel standard gauge No. 444 roundhouse section. Stephenson’s image.

“Collectors will appreciate that many of the train sets are boxed and that an enormous selection of accessories will be available, as well,” said Stephenson. The comprehensive array includes numerous bridges, signals, crossing gates, platform buildings and figures, which will be apportioned into group lots. Highlights among the accessories include an excellent and always sought-after Lionel standard gauge No. 444 roundhouse section, a No. 124 station and two No. 913 illuminated bungalows.


The toy box at Stephenson’s will be brimming with boys’ toys of all types from the pre- and postwar eras. A Buddy ‘L’ pressed steel Railway Express truck with all original paint is in “good to very good” condition. Another vintage piece is the Keystone parking garage and gas station.


Britains figurines, both military and civilian types. Stephenson’s image.

The toy lineup continues with slot cars (including Aurora), pond boats, an abundance of Britains civilian and military figures, and a scale-model remote-control helicopter. Numerous scale model cars produced by Danbury Mint and Franklin Mint are also part of the colorfully varied toy mix.


Stephenson’s Friday, Dec. 16 Dolls, Trains & Toys auction will take place at the company’s gallery located at 1005 Industrial Blvd., Southampton, PA 18966. The session will begin at 2 p.m., with a two-hour preview from 12 noon till commencement of sale. There will be ample onsite parking and a food and beverage concession at the venue. For additional information on any lot in the sale, call Cindy Stephenson at 215-322-6182 or e-mail


All forms of bidding will be available, including live in the gallery, absentee, by phone, or live via the Internet through View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at Visit Stephenson’s online at