Published: September 21, 2010
Halloween came early to Morphy Auctions, which presented a holiday auction September 11, featuring choice candy containers, papier mache Halloween decorations and nodders. Several stellar Santa displays also made the auction’s “Top Ten.”
Many auctioneers wait until late in a sale to bring out the cream of the crop, but this auction was front-loaded with some of the big guns. The first 40-some lots in the sale comprised a choice collection of Halloween candy containers and lanterns that were collected over the past two decades by Connie and Jay Lowe. Made in Germany in the early 1900s for exclusive import to America (as Halloween was then considered an American holiday), the grouping featured great paint, bold and charming decoration and unusual forms.
The sale got going about ten minutes late, but after a computer glitch with the slide shows of the lots was fixed, auctioneer Andy Ourant got things going at a rapid pace. The sale, featuring just under 900 lots, averaged about 100 lots an hour.
Starting the auction off on the right note was the first lot across the block, a vegetable policeman riding a bird candy container that sold within its $800․1,000 estimate at $1,150, including the 15 percent buyer’s premium.
Bidding quickly heated up, however, with the second lot, a Halloween papier mache foot lantern featuring a grinning face on the sole and smaller faces painted on each toe. Soaring above its $2,5/3,5000 estimate to bring $10,350, the large lantern at 7½ inches tall drew much presale attention and had multiple absentee bids on it.
It was immediately followed by a large and roly-poly, figural pumpkin candy container, 13 inches tall, perhaps the only known example, that sold together with a 2¼-inch pumpkin roly-poly for $5,175.
Lots 11 and 12 were a matched pair of candy containers, both on painted wooden bases, that had been kept together since the original purchase in the early Twentieth Century and, fittingly, the same buyer acquired both here, ensuring the couple will stay together for the foreseeable future.
Remembering “ladies first,” first across the block was the cauliflower-bodied lady candy container with radish arms, carrot feet and apple head with a decidedly coy expression. She fetched $4,312, solidly within estimate. Her partner, a potato-bodied male candy container wearing a bobbly policeman’s hat, had banana legs, carrot arms and an apple head. He brought $3,737.
Next up was the top lot of the auction, a vegetable candy container/lantern that dwarfed most of the other candy containers in this grouping at a sizable 17½ inches tall. Accordingly, it attained the big price of $19,550, owing to its rarity; it is thought to be the only known surviving example in this form. This container also has a clockwork mechanism that allows the glass eyes to move side to side. Wearing a simulated apron and vest over its vegetable body, the piece had radish arms, zucchini legs, walnut feet and a watermelon head with an expressive toothy grin.
Another standout among candy containers was a vegetable man candy container/lantern that brought $12,650. Displaying a typical veggie man form, he had parsnip arms, zucchini legs, potato feet and a fruit-type head with a glass red nose. The paper eyes and paper mouth became transparent when the inner candle is lit.
Rounding out the stellar Halloween offerings was a rare, complete set of six celluloid Halloween nodders that more than doubled its low estimate to fetch $10,350. The set was described in the catalog as old store stock and in never-used condition, accompanied by its original box that retained the original paper label. The figures are a black cat, a witch, a devil and three pumpkins wearing black jackets
Christmas items, mostly Santas in a variety of forms, also proved popular. Not surprisingly, a combination candy container clockwork nodder was the top lot among Santas, with a 28-inch-tall Santa holding a wicker basket and tree selling for $10,350. The Santa has original rabbit fur beard and clothing along with its composition face and hands.
A massive 59½-inch store display piece featured a fully jointed Santa and four carved reindeer that was made by Schoenhut and was presented in its 1914 catalog as a “Grand attraction for the Holidays.” While the sleigh was not original to the piece, the rarity of this item spurred bidding to $5,570. Another Santa on a sleigh to perform well was a centerpiece Santa in a wicker sleigh pulled by a single clockwork reindeer at $4,025.
More than 150 lots of German Dresden ornaments, some in boxed lots, were offered and performed well overall, led by a rare example in the form of a Russian troika with driver that rode off to $3,450.
Other Dresden highlights included a royal coach ornament that even with one wheel missing, and needing some work, soared above its $400/600 estimate to fetch $2,875, an unusual battleship ornament with four smokestacks at that was an excellent buy at $2,300 and a four-piece lot of three Dresden walnuts (one with an elf riding on top) and a covered basket with silk lining that took $1,725.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For more information, www.morphyauctions.com or 717-335-3435.
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