Published: November 19, 2019
Review and Onsite Photos by R. Scudder Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy RSL Auctions
WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. – RSL’s website listed a one-day auction, November 9, for a long time and then November 8 also appeared. “We kept getting more and more things for this sale, until we added enough for another day with a noon start,” Leon Weiss said. Auctioneer Doug Riat signed on and flew in from Kansas to auctioneer on Friday, while Rick Opfer wielded the gavel on Saturday.
The two-day sale had a total of 884 lots, including still banks, mechanical banks, toys of many makes and items of folk art. In the end the total sum was $797,200, including the buyer’s premium. Buyers on the internet ended up with 23 percent of the lots, which constituted 11 percent of the total sum. “The antique bank and toy market is strong for items that are colorful and in excellent to superior condition,” said Leon.
The auction started off with lot 1, an elephant and a horse on tubs by A.C. Williams, pristine condition, that sold for $168; next a House with Chimney Slot, Kyser & Rex, Philadelphia, circa 1880s, very fine condition, sold for $600; and a prancing horse in red, Arcade Mfg Co., pristine condition, brought $360. A group of political-themed banks included an Obama vs McCain bank, in mint condition, that sold for more than double the high estimate, selling for $720.
A page of five cast iron and tin bell toys included Mammy & Dandy Bell Toy by Watrous Mfg. Co. in Connecticut, fine condition, selling for $540, just over high estimate. A cast iron Hook & Ladder by Harris Toy Company, Toledo, Ohio, 1895, 30 inches long, sold for $390, and the first group of mechanical banks started with Owl Turns Head bank, J&E Stevens, excellent-plus condition, that sold for $330.
Also, $1,080 bought a Speaking Dog Bank, again by J&E Stevens, very fine condition, followed shortly by Darktown Battery Bank, J&E Stevens, very fine condition, that sold for $1,440. Also in this group, the Magician Bank, J&E Stevens, very fine, brought $2,640; Bad Accident Bank, again Stevens, brought $1,560; and Boy On Trapeze Bank, J. Barton Smith, Philadelphia, 1880, very fine, that brought $840.
Lot 336, a collection of both hard- and soft-covered books, still bank themed, ended the Friday session by selling for $48.
The Saturday session began at 10 am when Rick Opfer hammered down Dapper Dan, a Louis Marx & Co., New York City, 1920s, tin toy, that sold for $192, within estimate. Jazzbo Jim with the original box, a tin figure in excellent condition sold within estimate for $360. A walking figure of Charlie Chaplin, 8¼ inches tall, a German maker, tin, excellent condition, went just under high estimate of $570, and Popeye made his presence known with a Pipe Toss Game with box, for $240.
A Horse & Jockey Bell Toy, French, 8½ inches long, excellent-plus condition, tin and lead, went for $780, and lot 479, Going to the Fair, Ernst Paul Lehmann, German, 1905, a toy that is in pristine and great working condition, tin with original box, sold just over low estimate at $2,640. Two lots later, Rocking Horse with Jockey, German, 6¼ inches long, tin, in excellent and bright condition, noted in the catalog, “we have not seen this toy before,” sold within estimate for $3,120.
Among the ships in the sale was lot 507 Three Funnel Ocean Liner, Gebruder Bing, German, 1915, measuring 40 inches long. The catalog notes that this is the largest version of the classic Ocean Liner series. This ship is tin, in pristine condition and sold for $7,200; lot 511, “Hope” Floor Train by George Brown Company, Forestville, Conn., 1880s, 36 inches long and of tin, sold for $2,160 within estimate; and Black Dandy Out for a Stroll, German, 1920, measuring 23 inches tall, is in good working condition. The figure is of wood, papier mache and cloth, in excellent condition, selling for $1,440.
Approximately 30 pieces of folk art included a Native American Countertop Tobacco figure by J.W. Fiske & Co., New York, 1800s. This figure in cast iron measures 25 inches tall and sold within estimate for $2,520; a Miniature Ship Figurehead from Boston, 1840s, 53 inches tall, sold for $780. It is of wood gesso with an old crusty surface. Among the ships was a Paddle Wheel River Model, American, circa 1910, measuring 29 inches long by 17 inches tall, made of wood and sold for $540, within estimate.
The final session of still banks came with lot 570, a white edition of Fala, circa 1930, cast iron with a tin trap. The little dog is in pristine condition and sold for $168. On the following page, a German Shepard Bust, possibly by A.C. Williams, measures 4-1/8 inches tall and sold for $1,080. The bank is of cast iron, excellent-plus, and the catalog notes “we have never seen this bank before. We believe it to be by Williams because of the design and because it employs the same screw that they used on many of their animal themed banks.”
Another new bank to the gallery is a Long Horn Bull, American, 1910, and 4¼ inches long. The bank is cast iron, excellent-plus, and sold over estimate for $600. Elephant with Blanket, Kenton Hardware, Kenton, Ohio, 1936, was in fine condition and sold over estimate at $1,200. One of the popular spelter banks was the Seated Donkey, Germany, 1920, that sold over the estimate for $840.
The Norman Stove was a product of Ideal Mfg. Co., Penn., 1890, and measures only 3 inches wide and 2 inches tall. RSL says, “We have never seen this bank before.” The bank is of cast iron, in excellent condition and sold for $1,080. A $900 bid took lot 719, Young Girl Riding A Duck, Continental, circa 1900, that sold for $900. This bank in pristine condition is of glazed earthenware.
Lot 736, the Oregon Gunboat with Masts, Kenton Hardware, 1900s, sold for $3,720. This boat is of cast iron, excellent condition, and the provenance is Andy Moore Collection. Another bank is a Water Wheel, American, 1905, pristine condition made of cast iron and tin. It sold for $1,200.
One of the most sought-after building banks ever produced is the Old South Church, circa 1870, cast iron, that sold for $3,480. The provenance lists Robert Peirce.
The auction concluded with a collection of mechanical banks, including Chief Big Moon Bank, another J&E Stevens, circa 1899, that sold for $4,500, just shy of the high estimate. Charles Bailey’s inspiration for “Chief Big Moon” may have come from the Frog Pond adjacent to the Stevens Foundry building. Punch & Judy (large letters) is a product of Shepard Hardware, Buffalo, N.Y., 1884, that sold for $3,900, within estimate. This bank of cast iron is in pristine condition. A few lots later, Cat and Mouse, by Stevens, in excellent-plus condition sold for $3,480, just short of the low estimate.
Indian and the Bear, with original box, is one of the finest known examples to exist and carries a Don Markey provenance. This bank is near mint condition and sold for $15,600, within estimate. Mammy-Green Dress, Kyser & Rex, Philadelphia, 1884, is always a popular bank. This cast iron example is in excellent condition and sold above estimate for $5,700. Nearing the end, Cupola Bank, J&E Stevens, 1875, cast iron and in very fine condition, sold above estimate for $5,700. Closing the auction was Beehive, Economy Accumulates Wealth, designed by Arthur Golton, 1892, of cast iron. This very fine example sold for $900, just over the high estimate.
The big headliners in this auction were Rival Bank and Roller Skating, both are pictured within this article with descriptions.
For information, 908-823-4049 or www.rslauctionco.com.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm