Published: October 19, 2004
Dan Morphy and Tom Sage Jr, co-owners of Morphy Auctions, were not prepared for the $1.7 million result achieved by their recent sale at Adamstown Antique Gallery, only the second auction conducted since the firm began business last April with a $1.3 million debut.
The 1,306-lot inventory drew strong prices in virtually every category, including antique advertising, soda fountain dispensers, late Nineteenth Century through 1950s toys and cast iron doorstops and banks.
Leading prices realized was a very scarce pedestal version of J. & E. Stevens’ cast iron Jonah and the Whale bank, made in 1888. Amid a bidding frenzy that came from all directions, the allegorical money box opened at $85,000 and, within minutes, had fetched $121,000, a world auction record for that model.
Marbles, which opened the sale, fared better this time than in the spring sale, according to Morphy, probably because more affordable examples were included. Attaining an excellent price for a machine-made marble, a Golden Rebel by Peltier in 9.7 condition brought $2,200.
Exceptional condition combined with rarity to pull top-of-the-market prices on antique advertising and soda fountain rdf_Descriptions. A 13-inch ceramic Ward’s Lime-Crush syrup dispenser estimated at $¾,000 sold to the room for a record-setting $8,800.
One of the star lots of the sale, an 181/2-inch Villeroy & Boch syrup dispenser, also was taken by a phone bidder for $38,500. It finished at the top of its estimate range because of its extreme rarity – “only a few examples are known,” said Morphy – and the presence of its lid, which tends to be missing on this particular piece.
Among colorful advertising from the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century, a 19-inch round tin example hawking Fatima Turkish Blend Cigarettes, reached $8,250.
Not long into Saturday’s session, a Marklin 20-inch tin clockword Luzern riverboat cruised to $11,000. Next was a selectin of tin Popeye character toys, led by an 111/2-inch strength-testing bell-ringer variation, which sold with its original box for $14,300.
An extensive collection of Hubley horse-drawn Royal Circus vans included a 231/4-inch farmer van drawn by four black horses wearing red plumes, which achieved $8,800. Two seldom-seen giraffe vans sparked fierce competition: a green version attracted $7,700 and a red variation surpassed it at $11,000.
In addition to the aforementioned Jonah and the Whale example, the cast iron mechanical bank category featured an uncommon gold variation of Charles A. Bailey’s Springing Cat bank, patented in 1882, which leaped to $30,250. An 1876 J. & E. Stevens Panorama bank, which displays changing pictures across its front, was driven by bidders to $38,500.
Prices reported include ten percent buyer’s premium.
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