Published: September 23, 2015
Review and Onsite Photos by R. Scudder Smith
Catalog photos Courtesy RSL Auction Company
WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — “We had more of Bill Werbell’s collection to sell, plus a number of other choice pieces, so we decided to bring it all together and have an auction in September with a limited number of lots,” Leon Weiss of RSL Auction Co. said about the sale that was conducted on September 12 with only 311 lots. The auction, called “Exceptional Finds,” totaled $882,000, including the buyer’s premium, with 98 percent of the lots sold. Forty-eight of the lots went to the Internet, with the balance shared between the phone, left bids and those who attended the sale. “We did not expect many people in the gallery due to the low number of lots, but we more than made up with the phones and absentee bidders,” Leon added.
All prices noted in this review include the buyer’s premium
The auction began at 11 am, with Richard Opfer calling, starting with a selection of still banks and a number of spelter examples, including lot 1, Elephant Wearing Bib by W.M.F., Germany, circa 1920, that went just over estimate, selling for $570. A few lots later, the Acrobatic Clown on Barrel, Germany, circa 1910s, sold for $1,140, over the $1,000 high estimate.
Cast iron still banks included the Tank Bank, England, circa 1918, excellent condition, that sold for $1,800, over the $1,500 high estimate, and the US Postal Bank with eagle finial, Hubley Mfg Co., Lancaster, Penn., green painted, carrying the same high estimate, selling for $2,280. A medium Cupola bank, yellow and red, J&E Stevens Co., Cromwell, Conn., circa 1880, exceeded estimate at $1,320 and the County Bank by John Harper, England, circa 1910, sold for $480. The large Flatiron Building bank by Kenton, Ohio, 8¼ inches high, sold within estimate for $1,680, while the Empire State Savings Bank, dated 1891, in green and cream paint, cast iron, tin and wood, also went within estimate at $2,040.
Cast iron toys included an American Oil Co. tank truck, Dent Hardware, Fullerton, Penn., circa 1920, 16 inches long, selling for $1,560; a Parcel Express delivery van, Arcade Mfg Co., Freeport, Ill., 8 inches long and dating circa 1928, going for $5,400, within estimate; and Black Boy on Goose animated bell ringer made in East Hampton, Conn., circa 1895, pristine condition, that went out within estimate at $3,600.
The Seamstress by Sigmund Guntermann, Germany, circa 1910, of tin and cloth, exceeded the $1,800 high estimate, bringing $2,520, while a few lots later, Ambling Punch, by the same maker, sold for the same price. Several large cars included a chauffeured limousine by Karl Bub, Germany, circa 1925, aqua and ivory surface with simulated black balloon tires, 17 inches long, that sold just over the high estimate at $4,200.
Among the folk art lots were a Mountain Boy horse weathervane by L.W. Cushing & Sons, Waltham, Mass., circa 1890, 43 inches long that sold for $4,200, within estimate, and a barber pole, American, circa 1900, 86 inches tall and painted red, white, blue and gold, with silver stars at the top, in wood and in excellent plus condition, went for $4,240, just over high estimate.
Shortly into the mechanical bank lots an Elephant and Three Clowns by J&E Stevens, sold for $16,800, exceeding the high estimate and probably a new world’s record. The bank dates circa 1890 and was in near mint and bright condition. The next lot, Professor Pug Frog’s Great Bicycle Feat, red blanketed version, also by Stevens, went over estimate, realizing $14,500. The Picture Gallery bank, Shepard Hardware Company, Buffalo, N.Y., circa 1888, very fine condition, brought $8,400, just over high estimate, while the Lighthouse bank, English, was only known for years from an old line cut advertisement dated 1904. Just recently this bank surfaced, cast iron and in very fine condition, and sold for $8,400, exceeding $6,000 high estimate.
The auction ended with $1,800 bid for the William Tell Money Box, a.k.a. Australian William Tell, Littlewood Novelty Company, NSW Australia, circa 1950. It is of sheet steel and aluminum, mint in the box, and sold below the $2,500 low estimate.
Rick Opfer dropped the hammer on the last lot, selling 311 lots in 2 hours, 45 minutes, including a lunch break of less than 15 minutes. As he was rushing out the door Rick mentioned, “I am in a hurry as I have to be in Baltimore this evening to conduct a benefit auction for Make-A-Wish. Bye now.”
For additional information, www.rslauctions.com or 908-823-4049.
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