Published: December 26, 2017
Review and Onsite Photos by Greg Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy Morphy Auctions
DENVER, PENN. – There was a line that kept repeating in the catalog of Morphy Auctions’ December 16-17 toy, doll and figural cast iron sale, and that was “excellent to near mint,” in reference to the condition on many of the top offerings that sold from the collection of Investment Rarities, Inc. The two-day sale grossed $1.07 million, including the buyer’s premium.
The owner of that collection has been a client of Morphy’s for some time, with a number of the lots featuring provenance to past sales at the auction house. The consignor’s taste in toys was spread through a number of categories, but it seemed that excellent condition was the main priority that the consignor spared no expense in obtaining, and astute buyers, with the same idea in mind, showed up to bid.
Around 30 people sat in the audience throughout the first day of the sale, coming and going as their sections of interest crossed the block, awaiting their turn to fill in the gaps of their own collections. The sale featured toys spanning all genres, including hand painted and tin litho German cars, dolls and stuffed animals, trains, racers, pressed steel automobiles, pull toys, marbles, robots, lunch boxes, air rifles and examples of iron that spanned mechanical and still banks, a large selection of door stops, cars and horse-drawn wagons.
Of the top 15 lots in the sale, seven of them were German cars. In a bidding battle between an in-house bidder and four phones, the floor bidder prevailed for the top lot of the auction, a Marklin hand painted open two-seat roadster, which settled at $90,000, just over double its high estimate. Although the original driver was involved in an accident at one point and was missing one of his hands, bidders were confident in his ability to steer toward good value going forward. The blue-green enameled paint was near mint, the rear tool compartment and leather strapped-down rubber spare tire were present, along with the original nickel finished lamps and clockwork mechanism.
In the same category, a Bing maroon taxi with red and white striping sold for $27,940; a green and yellow accented touring car from the same company with tufted red leather seating brought $21,600; a buttercream yellow Carette auto with both driver and passenger and its original box sold for $20,320; a brown Carette limousine with beveled glass windows, two sets of nickel lamps and an original box, which designated the example as having been produced for the French market, brought $15,000; a near mint Bing clockwork Phaeton auto in buttercream yellow sold for $12,915; and finally a Carette tin litho windup limousine, circa 1910 and in an unusual large size variation, attracted a buyer at $9,600.
All but two of these cars were originally in the Donald Kaufman collection.
A selection of 24 racers finished off the first session, with one of them, the Richter Modern Bullet #12, finishing at $35,670. The circa 1939-40 car was made by Roy Richter, the founder of Bell Helmets, and featured a polished sheet aluminum body with Voit wheels and tires and a front drive with Hassad/Shock engine. Only six other examples are known to exist.
Among the cast iron offerings, a Hubley hill racer took the top prize, finishing at $33,210. The example had originally been sold by Morphy as part of the Andy Huffer toy motorcycle collection in 2008. In near-mint to mint condition, the green Harley-Davidson motorcycle featured nickel wheels with the original driver and string and ball. Morphy’s believes it to be possibly the finest example known.
Two horse-drawn examples from Pratt & Letchworth also sold above their estimates. With its original box, the P&L horse-drawn barouche with excellent to near mint paint brought $18,450 above a $9,000 high estimate. Following it was the P&L Boy’s Express wagon with original driver that brought $7,995. Iron automobiles followed in suit, with a circa 1929 cherry red Vindex salesman’s sample Oldsmobile sedan in excellent to near-mint condition selling for $8,400. In an attractive green, yellow and red paint, a Hubley coal car with an African American driver finished over estimate at $6,985, while a 1932 Arcade Reo in yellow, red and black brought $5,400.
In doorstops, a standout came in the form of an orange fish with green fins that sold for $2,767 on a $500 high estimate. The house had never handled another.
Figural toys with their original boxes commanded a number of highlights, with a celluloid Walt Disney Mickey Mouse on scooter topping out at $26,670. Auctioneer Dan Morphy said that this is one of the earliest Mickey Mouse toys extant, and one of only three known of the toy itself.
Also selling well was a Lehmann Going To The Fair in excellent condition, which brought $16,800, well over the $6,000 high estimate. Following behind was a Hoge Popeye rowboat with working windup mechanism and original rudders and oars. In near-mint condition, Morphy believed it to be one of the best examples known. It finished at $8,610.
The 132 lots of marbles by Christensen Agate, Akro, Peltier, Barberton and others were on offer the second day of the sale. The top four marble lots were examples from Christensen Agate, with the highest being a No. 4 box set including amber, white, blue, peach and vaseline green slags. The 25-marble set sold for $2,767. Behind was a two-color cobalt guinea with orange and white spotting, which brought $2,460; an albino submarine guinea with a white submarine base that had been layered over with translucent blue, selling for $2,215; and a teardrop guinea with a single pinch line cobalt base and large spotting of color that realized $1,845.
Dolls and stuffed animals checked in with just over 100 lots in the sale. A French Bru Circle Dot bebe with her original kid body, wig and shoes finished as the top lot of the section at $6,600. Behind was a near mint example of the brunette edition of Barbie No. 1 with its original stand and box autographed by Barbie’s creator, Ruth Handler. It brought $6,350. In stuffed animals, a rare Steiff bear in apricot mohair found competitive bidding exceeding the $3,000 high estimate, settling at $6,150, while a large cinnamon mohair Steiff bear finished just behind at $5,580.
Finishing at an impressive number eight of the top ten lots in the sale and fetching $18,000 was the holy grail of lunch boxes, a rare Superman example. It was first released by Universal in 1954 and it continues to be the most sought-after example in the field. This box was graded C9 in excellent condition, with only some small scattered nicks to the paint and some oxidization on the clasp and handle.
Three examples from Masudaya’s Gang of 5 led the robot offerings, all with their original boxes. At the top was a Radicon robot, finishing at $9,225, while a Target robot bought $9,000 and a Sonic robot made $7,995.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.morphyauctions.com or 877-968-8880.
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