Published: June 9, 2020
Review by Greg Smith, Images Courtesy Hartzell’s Auction Gallery, Inc.
BANGOR, PENN. – Lithographed biscuit tins, 250 lots of them, crossed the block at Hartzell’s Auction Gallery, Inc., on May 31 from a single-owner collection. The sale went 98 percent sold and found interest from both the United States and Europe.
The New Jersey collector had been amassing his collection for more than 35 years according to John Hartzell, vice president of sales and operations. The auction gallery will have five or six sales from this collection over the next year in a variety of genres.
In addition to biscuit tins, the sale also included chocolate and lozenge tins, with nearly all of them coming from Europe.
The consignor was an auction buyer and had a network of European dealers that would pick prime examples for him from that market.
The biscuit tin market finds its strength not from a mass group of like-minded biscuit tin collectors, but rather from the cross over interest – from people who collect toys or tin-lithographed examples, box collectors or those interested in automobiles, Christmas or some relation to the many forms that the tins took.
The sale’s top lot, a circa 1925 motorcycle and sidecar biscuit tin would over double the $8,000 high estimate as it sold for $18,080. The orange rider on blue motorcycle with red side car was produced for Gray Dunn & Co Ltd out of Glasgow. The 10-inch-long example had provenance to the Donald Kaufman collection and it took 41 bids to hammer down.
Another Gray Dunn & Co Ltd tin took the second highest result, this in the form of a yellow, red and black painted racer car that sold for $9,225. The back of the number 1 racer read “Always First.” This too had provenance to Kaufman but also to Seaford, England dealer Stuart Cropper.
Two other motorcycle tins would do well, and Hartzell said these forms were exceptionally popular with motorcycle collectors. A Wright & Son Ltd tin with a blue rider on a red cycle, circa 1930, took $7,910. A very similar form of a blue rider with orange cycle for the Co-Operative Wholesale Society (CWS) sold for $5,650.
Offerings that crossed over into Christmas included the Father Christmas Car produced for Hudson and Scott. Circa 1920, the car features a blue-dressed Santa driving a car full of presents. It sold for $5,535 after 26 bids. A standard form cylindrical lidded container, 13½ inches tall and marked “Blechwaran Fabrik Limburg Lahn,” featuring a red-dressed Santa with a bag of toys slung over his shoulder, sold for $2,091.
The tins took a wide variety of forms, spanning all manners of planes, trains and automobiles.
Trucks were represented by a CWS steam powered lorry with an image of an open truck bed with stacked bags of flour used for making CWS biscuits. It sold for $4,520. Not far behind at $4,238 was a chocolate and toffees lorry from J Lyons & Co. The truck’s decal advertised that the company was “By Appointment To His Majesty The King.” A sleek-looking fire brigade truck with an open cab and hose and ladder lithography for W. Crawford & Sons, would sell for $2,599.
“We had probably ten phone lines going the whole day over the 250 lots,” Hartzell said, adding that the auction had another 500 registered bidders online. “It was a strong sale, even in times like this.”
For more information, 610-588-5831 or www.hartzellsauction.com.
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