Published: July 10, 2012
“The great things brought great prices and the sale was 99 percent sold,” Leon Weiss of RSL Auction Company said of the sale his firm conducted on Sunday, July 1, at Richard Opfer Auctioneering, Inc, in Timonium. He noted, “We set between 30 and 40 new records, including building banks and Spelter banks.” In total, the sale generated $1,335,000 with 621 lots of mechanical and still banks, toys, train stations and Americana. Eighty numbers were issued at the gallery, phone lines were kept busy, left bids were executed, and the Internet accounted for about ten percent of the sales.
“We had a good audience of bank collectors, as many of those who attended the combined bank convention of the Mechanical Bank Collectors of America and the Still Bank Collectors Club of America stayed around an extra day to come to the sale,” Steven Weiss said. The bank collectors convention, the first with both organizations coming together, was at the Crowne Plaza in Timonium, June 28″0.
A 22½ percent buyer’s premium is added to the hammer price, with a 3.5 percent discount to those who pay with good check or cash.
Santa with removable wire tree, a pristine-plus still bank with a Donal Markey provenance, got the sale off to a good start when it sold for $22,050 against a high estimate of $12,000. This lot is pictured. A number of spelter banks followed, including a standing collie, Germany, circa 1915, for $581, and a Little Red Riding Hood spelter bank for $857.
Silver lead banks included a conducting frog, German, circa 1910, for $980; an airplane called Spirit of Savings , American, circa 1930, for $398: and a Bendigo pottery Jolly N, 7½ inches high, Australian, circa 1905, for $735.
Three round duck cast iron banks by Kenton Hardware Co., Kenton, Ohio, circa 1925, were offered; the first in yellow made $980, the second in green went for $1,041, and the last in blue fetched $1,163. A basset hound, probably by A.C. Williams, Ravenna, Ohio, circa 1920, went for $643, while $1,102 was paid for Hubley Toy Company pelican in very fine condition. A Santa without tree, cast iron, again by Hubley, excellent-plus, sold for $1,470.
Architectural banks accounted for 151 lots in the first half of the sale, with a medium cupola, white with green stenciled roof, J&E Stevens Company, Cromwell, Conn., selling for $1,041, and another cupola medium, with red stenciled roof, bringing $1,347. A large brown cupola by the same maker sold for $1,420, a large crown bank in red, white and blue, same maker, made $1,470, and a pavilion in white and green, Kyser & Rex, Philadelphia, circa 1880, brought $1,225.
A German church bank/cigar cutter, circa 1895, 12 inches high in tin, went for $1,347, while lot 233, New York bank, cast iron with eagle finial, circa 1890, listed as probably English, realized $1,225. A large green Statue of Liberty, Kenton Hardware, circa 1915, brought $1,837; a lighthouse bank, cast iron, Kyser & Rex, circa 1891, excellent condition, went for $2,940; and bank on stepped base with rooster finial, probably French, circa 1895, cast iron in pristine-plus condition, sold for $3,185.
Toward the end of the still bank offerings, a building with belfry, Kenton Hardware, circa 1900, cast iron and in pristine-plus condition, went over the high $5,000 estimate, selling for $6,737, and a crown bank on legs, large, American, circa 1875, near mint-plus condition, sold a just over twice the high estimate at $8,575.
The James Laster Collection of German train stations (two pictured) came in the middle of the auction, with the first lot, Central Station, 1 gauge, Marklin, in tin, selling for $3,675, and train station with covered patio, 1 gauge, circa 19810, 16½ inches long, tin, bringing $4,900. The Jolanda riverboat, large, Marklin, Germany, circa 1915, 29 inches long and 18 inches high, tin and steel, in excellent condition, sold between estimate at $14,700.
Among the European toys was lot 348, Gendarme made by Ferdinand Martin, French, circa 1895, 8 inches tall, fabric and tin, near excellent condition, went between estimate at $3,552, and a Mickey Mouse on pedestal go-round, Japanese, circa 1932, 13½ inches high and in good working order, celluloid and wood, brought $4,900, below the low estimate of $7,000.
A green bubble back salon car limousine made by Gebruder, Germany, circa 1912, 12½ inches long, lithographed tin and in pristine condition, was in the automotive toy section of the sale and brought $3,981. American tin toys included lot 393, Republic paddlewheel boat measuring 20 inches long, by James Fallows Toy Company, Philadelphia, circa 1885, one of only four or five known examples. It is the largest tin boat ever produced and sold for $4,900, below the $6,000 low estimate. A clockwork horse with rider, George Brown Company, Forestville, Conn., dates circa 1880 and is one of only four known. The toy works well, is about 10 inches long, tin and iron and in very-fine-plus condition. With a high estimate of $9,000, it sold for $11,637.
A high estimate of $9,000 was on the Nursemaid mechanical bank by Ives, Blakeslee Company, Bridgeport, Conn., one of probably only ten known, wood, cloth and papier mache in excellent condition. It depicts a black mammy, known as “Old Aunt Chloe,” taking care of a white baby. It finished at $11,637.
Among the cast iron toys was Uncle Sam Chariot by Kenton Hardware, circa 1905, listed in the catalog as “undeniably, the finest known specimen of this scarce Kenton hardware toy. In fact, it may be the best condition cast iron horse drawn to in existence.” It was found in a home on Cape Cod and shows no play wear. Measuring 12 inches long, it is mint-mint-mint and sold within estimate at $18,375.
In the Americana section of the sale, a pair of black ventriloquist dummies, circa 1890, 38 inches tall and made of composition, wood, leather, wool and fabric, sold for $9,870 against a high estimate of $6,500. An Uncle Sam trade card, Shepard Hardware Company, Buffalo, N.Y., distributors card, circa 1885, in mint condition, sold over estimate at $1,837, and a Red Goose Shoes string dispenser, American, circa 1910, 15 inches long and 11 inches tall, cast iron and from the Larry Feld Collection, pristine condition, sold just over high estimate at $7,350.
Mechanical bank closed out the sale, the last 141 lots, including Butting Buffalo by Kyser & Rex, March 20, 1888, near mint and bright condition, cast iron, that sold just over the low estimate at $20,825; and Clown, Harlequin and Columbine by J&E Stevens Company, was found as a collection of unpainted parts by collector Gertrude Heagerty in the 1960s and she assembled and restored the bank at that time. It sold just under the high estimate for $18,375. Girl Skipping Rope, another bank by Stevens, circa 1890, very-fine-plus condition, cast iron, sold within estimate at $15,925.
A Mammy and Child bank, red dress, by Kyser & Rex Company, pristine and bright condition, front half of the original spoon repaired, was estimated at $12/15,000, and sold for $15,925. The Picture Gallery bank, Shepard Hardware, circa 1888, was in excellent-plus condition, cast iron, and sold within estimate at $15,925, and the last lot of the sale, US and Spain, another Stevens product, near mint condition, depicting a scene from the Spanish-American War, sold for $19,600 against a high estimate of $25,000. The provenance lists Seaman’s Savings Bank, Oliver Clark, and Rick Goldstein Collection.
RSL Auctions has announced its next sale of Black Memorabilia, Toys, Still & Mechanical Banks for December 1 at Richard Opfer’s Gallery in Timonium. For a complete postsale price list, www.rslauctions.com .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm