Published: June 1, 2016
Review and Onsite Photos by R. Scudder Smith,
Catalog Photos Courtesy RSL Auctions
WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — “Anything that should do well, did well,” Leon Weiss, one of the three owners of RSL Auction Company, said minutes after the hammer fell on lot 920 on Sunday, May 15. The spring toy and bank auction got off to a fine start on Saturday, May 14, with 548 lots of both still and mechanical banks falling under the hammer of Richard Opfer. On Sunday, 371 lots were sold, including cast iron and tin toys, doorstops, paperweights, folk art and occupational shaving mugs.
Ninety-seven percent of the sale was sold, bringing in a total of $1.06 million, with the Internet buying 200 lots for a total of $170,000. Sixty-five left bids were executed and 37 phone bidders were called, with 34 buying one or more lots. The Sunday sale was designed to follow the toy collectors convention that ended on Saturday in Princeton, N.J.
Among the first lots of still banks were the four-passenger auto by A.C. Williams, red version, that brought $450, $100 over estimate; both the large and small Two-Faced Black Boy, $360 over the $200 high estimate, and the Two-Faced Devil, also by A.C. William, within estimate at $900. A scarce nickel plated version of the McKinley & Roosevelt bank, circa 1900, brought $1,440, while an English aluminum Polar Bear on Iceberg, 6¼ inches tall, excellent condition, went over the $400 high estimate, selling for $720.
An Air Mail Bank on Base from the Robert Brady Collection, Dent Hardware, pristine-plus condition, sold over estimate at $1,140, and the Cannon Bank by Hubley, green painted with red wheels, circa 1914, brought $3,000, the low estimate. The Tank Savings Bank with the box, Tuttle & Bailey Mfg Co., circa 1919, went within estimate at $2,280, and the J&E Stevens Shell Out bank, circa 1882, went just over the $1,000 high estimate, bringing $1,560.
The Seated Elephant went for $1,080, the Wisconsin War Eagle brought $1,140, the Apple on Leaves sold for $1,320, $900 for the Cone Top Building, large green Statue of Liberty at $1,920 and New Bank with Legs, another bank with a Donal Markey provenance, hit $3,900. Prior to the start of the selection of mechanical banks, the small Masonic Temple, 4½ inches tall, a copy of the building that still occupies Philadelphia’s downtown landscape, went for $3,000; the Wembley Bank, English, circa 1925, brought $4,200 and the largest size of the Flatiron Building, 8¼ inches tall, sold within estimate at $1,920.
A nickel plated Safety Locomotive, designed by Edward T. Calby, Chicago, circa 1881, cast iron and in pristine condition, sold for $1,920, just over the high estimate, and the Clown on Globe, yellow base, J&E Stevens Company, Cromwell, Conn., circa 1890, very fine condition, sold close to the high estimate at $4,440. A bid of $1,560, just slightly over the low estimate, bought the Frog on Lattice, yellow base, J&E Stevens, circa 1875, cast iron and in excellent plus condition. Slightly under the low estimate was the Calamity Bank, also by J&E Stevens Company, cast iron in near perfect condition, that brought $19,800. Stevens also made the Magic Bank, circa 1876, the yellow version in cast iron, that sold toward the high end of the estimate at $3,360. The paint on this bank accounted for the price, despite the 5-inch crack in the roof.
According to the catalog, lot 495, Fortune Horse Race Savings Bank, is an extremely rare American tin bank, with only about five known and quite possibly this is the finest of the group. A. Allardyce Mfg Co., Chicago, made it and it was in pristine-plus condition. It sold for $8,400, $100 under the high estimate, to a Pennsylvania collector. The Organ bank, medium, Kyser & Rex Company, Philadelphia, near mint plus, went over the high estimate, bringing $4,200. The New Bank, another one by J&E Stevens, circa 1872, pristine and bright, went over the high estimate to bring $9,600, while the Punch and Judy, medium letters, Shepard Hardware Company, circa 1884, also went over estimate at $7,800. This bank was near pristine and the provenance listed Rich Garthoeffner.
Sunday started off at 10 am with lot 549, three truck banks, American, circa 1930, that sold over estimate for $330, followed a few lots later by a Hubley Road Roller, circa 1925, 7½ inches long, cast iron and in fine condition. The high estimate was $375 and it sold for $700. A race car with moving pistons, also by Hubley, painted green and yellow, 10½ inches long, cast iron and in excellent condition, went over the $1,200 high estimate, hitting $1,800. Another Hubley toy, Clockwork Road Roller, green with red wheels, sold within estimate at $5,180, while a racing scull, midsize version, U.S. Hardware, circa 1890, excellent condition, brought $3,480.
The Clown Chariot by Harris Toy Company, Ohio, circa 1895, 10½ inches long, sold just over estimate at $1,920, and a Red Goose Shoes string holder, American, circa 1915, 14 inches long, brought $2,880. The Twilight paddlewheel boat, James Fallows Co., Pennsylvania, circa 1885, 15½ inches long, excellent condition, tin, sold just under estimate at $4,200, followed shortly by a folk art hooked rug depicting a red Packard, American, circa 1930s, 53 by 30 inches, pristine condition, that brought $840.
A Goat Cart with Girl, Germany, G&K, circa 1920, 8½ inches long and working well, tin, sold over the $700 high estimate at $1,020. Also going over estimate was lot 777, Clown with Clarinet and Dancing Woman, made by Guntermann, 8¾ inches long, tin and fabric, at $2,160. Banjo Player, by the same maker, 7 inches tall, tin and in near mint condition, working condition, sold just under estimate for $2,880.
In pristine condition was lot 800, Compagnie Generale des Tramways, a trolley drawn by a pair of light brown horses, tin with papier mache figures, circa 1890, 18 inches long, went within estimate at $3,480. The next two lots fell just shy of their high estimates, lot 811, the Delage #6 racecar, Jeu et de Paris, French, circa 1930, 17 inches long, tin with papier mache driver, pristine condition, went for $4,500, while a limousine, large scaled, Karl Bub, Germany, circa 1930, 18 inches long, pristine tin, brought $4,200.
The auction ended with 19 occupational shaving mugs being offered, the two top lots each bringing $510, both over the high estimate. A Double Baker, Austria, circa 1890, ceramic, was in pristine condition, and Livery Stable by T&V, Limoges, France, circa 1890, was also in pristine condition.
Word leaked out that Rick Opfer would be celebrating a birthday on the Monday following the auction and, as a result, he was treated to a version of “Happy Birthday” that was a far cry from listening to the Yale Glee Club. And it might be that Rick was hungry that Saturday morning, as he clocked 130 lots per hour before the break for lunch.
RSL has announced its fall auction set for Friday and Saturday, October 14–15. As plans now stand, the sale will be during the afternoon on the first day, followed by a complete day on Saturday. “This is going to be a great auction and we have some very rare banks from great collections, including Ralph Dye, Tim Steckbeck and Tom Kellogg,” Steven Weiss said. Some of the banks were on view at the gallery during the spring sale and collectors were excited seeing them, including a standing horse on platform, a rare Santa with tree, hippo and a large cupola bank with fancy roof.
For additional information, firstname.lastname@example.org or 908-823-4049.
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