Published: October 8, 2019
Review and Onsite Photos by Greg Smith, Additional Images Courtesy Morphy Auctions
DENVER, PENN. – At 1,527 lots, Morphy Auctions’ September 24-25 toy, doll & figural cast iron sale had something for everyone. The sale offered five primary collections, including approximately 120 examples of mechanical and tin banks from an American collector who had recently passed away, approximately 200 examples of trucks from a Brooklyn collector, a candy container collection from Leon Poirier, who with his wife, Rose, and Douglas M. Dezso wrote the 1997 book Collector’s Guide To Candy Containers, Identification and Values; a figural advertising collection out of California and another collection of 50 cap guns from a single owner. The sale would gross $1,570,000.
Head of the toy and trains department Tom Sage Jr, said after the auction, “We did exactly what we thought we would,” relating the pre-sale estimate was $1.5 million, “So overall we’re happy.”
Value in the sale was front-loaded with many of the mechanical banks producing the bulk of the revenue on the first day.
At the top of the sale were two mechanical banks that each featured the same $80/120,000 estimate and both split that down the middle at $96,000 and $98,400. Both hammered at $80,000.
At $96,000 was a Kyser & Rex Roller Skating cast iron mechanical bank in excellent to near mint condition, which sold to a dealer/collector in the room. Morphy bank specialist Jim Yeager called it one of the very best examples of this mechanical bank known.
The other was a windup Freedman’s Bank of wood, metal and cloth, featuring an African American figure sitting at a desk, circa 1880, that brought $98,400. The Freedman’s right arm pulls his outstretched arm to his right, causing his left hand to rake the coin into the hole in the desk. He then raises his right hand, thumbs his nose and wiggles his fingers as his head turns to the right, then lowering his right arm back to its original position. It featured provenance to the West Chester Historical Society, Wally Tudor and Stephen Steckbeck.
Other top earners among cast iron mechanical banks included a Henry Hart Presto bank that went out at $27,600, beneath its low estimate. Very near, at or above high estimate were the following: a J&E Stevens Home bank, 4½ inches high in near mint condition with a unique color variation, $19,680; an American Bank featuring a black sewing machine, near mint condition, $15,990; a J&E Stevens Perfection Registering bank, excellent to near mint condition with paper label, $12,000; a Shepard Hardware Uncle Sam bank in near mint condition with original painted trap and original wood box and lid, $11,400; a J&E Stevens Light of Asia in excellent plus condition and with provenance to the Stanley Sax collection, $10,200; and a J&E Stevens Boy Scout bank with original trap and in excellent condition, $9,225.
Among the tin banks, a Berger & Meden Winner Savings Bank in excellent condition took $5,100. A World Banker mechanical took $3,600 in excellent plus paint, while a German tin Magie bank with box by Saalheimer & Strauss in near mint shape brought $3,600.
Iron still banks were led by a never-before-seen example, possibly European in origin, featuring what seems to be a North Wind figure on both sides. It brought $5,100 above a $600 estimate. Other highlights included an International Eagle on Globe, 8 inches high and in very good condition, $2,400; a Kyser & Rex Apple bank, excellent to near mint condition, $2,040; a Baseball and Three Bats, very good to excellent condition, $1,107; and a three-handle ornate brass bank with key lock, excellent condition, $720.
Cast iron doorstops were ruled by animals. Rising above the $3,000 high estimate to bring $5,228 was a rare and brightly painted Pelican doorstop, 14½ inches high and signed Spencer, Guilford, Conn., in near mint condition. Following behind was a 19¼-inch-high elk or stag with glass eyes and in excellent paint that went out at $3,520; and a Bradley & Hubbard turkey in excellent paint, 12¼ inches high, sold at $3,300. Featuring a young blonde girl with a flowing dress in a field of flowers, Judd Co.’s West Wind doorstop, 18 inches high, brought $3,075. Finishing at $3,000 over the $1,200 high estimate was a Highland Lighthouse doorstop, 8 inches high.
A number of very rare candy container examples were released on the market for the first time out of the Poirier collection, which consisted of 125 lots total. “The rare ones did very well,” Sage said. “They brought as much as they would have ever brought. Some of them were one of a kind – there were three or four of them in there that no one ever had the chance to buy.”
At the top was a glass candy race car with tin wheels, circa 1930s, 5 inches long, that brought $5,100 above the $1,500 estimate. Three Halloween examples followed: a black cat winking with stretched neck by the Victory Glass Company, 5 inches high, circa 1925 with original closure, $4,800; a policeman riding a pumpkin, 4 inches high, $4,613; and a goblin head, circa 1920s in all original paint, $4,613 above a $500 estimate. Home appliance containers by the Victory Glass Company included a refrigerator, circa 1920, 3¾ inches high, $2,400; and a Dolly’s Bathtub, circa 1920s and missing the closure, $2,040. Other examples included buses, cars, planes, trains, lamps and lanterns, parking signs, Santas and more.
A collection of 50 cap guns was led by those with figural or intricate hammers, and interest was uniformly spread out over buyers in the room. Sage said he was surprised by the results in this section, as there isn’t a very deep market for them. The top of the category was claimed by a venerable cast iron example, circa 1890, featuring a squirrel atop in original black paint. When the opening bid came off the block already above the $1,000 estimate, an audible gasp of disappointment was heard from the gallery. It sold for $2,400. Two cap bombs, both from the late Nineteenth Century, one a Moon-face and the other a Humpty Dumpty, sold for double estimate at $2,460. Two cast iron Monkey examples from Lockwood were separated by condition, selling at $2,214 and $1,353. Examples by Ives were found desirable, a cast iron Clown on Barrel, circa 1892, went off at $1,599; a Punch & Judy took $1,353; and a Sambo animated cap pistol took the same price.
More than 200 metal trucks on offer came from a late collector in Brooklyn. Pressed steel offerings were led by a Duesenberg-type 20-inch race car that took $5,100 over a $900 estimate. A Vindex cast iron tow truck with provenance to Donald Kaufman went out at $3,438. With its original box, a Buddy L Allied Van Line truck in near mint condition, new old store stock, sold for $2,400. Two restored examples by the same maker followed: an International Shell delivery truck took $2,304, and a teal green bus brought $1,968, both over estimate.
Leading the train category was a lot of three early Voltamp passenger cars, a no. 2107 Elizabeth Pullman car, a no. 2105 Dining Car and a no. 2140 Hansa Observation Car, that brought $3,438. Selling square between the estimate was a six-piece Lionel Girl’s Set in the original set box in colors of pink, yellow, green and blue. The set sold at $3,000. Selling over estimate at $2,160 was a Voltamp grey 2112 hopper car in very good to excellent condition.
Tin Litho toys were topped by a T.V. Space Patrol car in near mint condition. The Japanese example came with its original box and finished at $9,000 above a $5,000 estimate. Another Japanese example that sold above estimate was a prewar “Harely” windup motorcycle toy with sidecar. Made by M.T. Japan, the name of the toy is thought to have been an attempt to emulate Harley Davidson. The toy sold for $5,120. A Super Jet Race Car, produced by Yonezawa, with original scarf/ribbon and box with original inserts, sold for $3,383. A Japanese Trooper Motorcycle, by Hadson, with original box, sold for $3,383, nearly tripling estimate.
Rising above an $800 estimate to bring $3,000 was a Marx pressed steel and tin-litho Universal Motor Repair Service set. Sage said he had never seen another. The shop came with cars and repair tools, two pressed steel vehicles, one tow truck and one automobile, as well as spare tires, gas pumps and pullout tool bin. “I’ve been buying Marx since the 70s. I bought stuff out of the Marx warehouse in the late 70s, and I’ve never seen this before. It’s really rare,” Sage said.
A 144-lot figural advertising collection out of California wrapped up the sale, led by a Frankenberry figure by Funco, 74 inches high, that had been acquired from the former president of the company. It sold for $3,300. A lot of two figures, Mario and Funco, Mario measuring 48 inches high, sold at $2,400. The highest selling antique figure in the group came in the form of a “Mr Electric,” a Western Electric Telephone figure, 20½ inches high, made from heavy telephone cable, a switchboard body and a cable spool for a head. It brought $2,280.
The sale finished with a 95 percent sell through rate, something Sage was happy with. “Anything that was really rare, things that stand out – those bring the money. Nothing really good slips by,” Sage said.
All prices reported include buyer’s premium. Morphy’s next toy auction will be in March. For more information, www.morphyauctions.com or 877-968-8880.
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