Published: May 30, 2017
By Anne Kugielsky
HARRISBURG, PENN. – Since the 1960s, GI Joe soldiers have been on the front lines of thousands of missions, as Marines, nurses, Mounties, air pilots, snow troopers and underwater demolition experts, to name a few jobs these figures portrayed. At Cordier Auction on April 23, the first of two single-owner private collections jumped into the fray with a GI Joe auction. It was followed on May 6-7 with a single-owner private collection of vintage and antique radios and parts, including some very valuable single tubes. The collection brought more than $98,000, with bidders participating live on day one and both live and online on day two.
With her head turned to the right, as though surveying the medical equipment displayed alongside her in the window box, the nurse in crisp medical whites does not look like the typical combat-ready soldier normally conjured by the name “GI Joe.” Nonetheless, she was the focus of a battle as bidders competed to win her at Cordier’s GI Joe auction.
The auction featured hundreds of GI Joe action figures, many of them, like the nurse, in the original boxes. All came from the same single-owner estate collection. The 1967 nurse was the highlight of the auction, going to a bidder online for $4,956. A second nurse without the original box sold for $1,534.
In total, more than 400 lots were sold, including a 1969 GI Joe Aquanaut in the original box, which brought $1,652, and a 1966 GI Joe Action Soldier Green Beret, which sold for $1,416. Overall, the highest performing items were all from GI Joe’s early days.
Hasbro introduced the GI Joe line in 1964. In response to the then commonly held belief that boys should not play with dolls, the company used the term “action figure” in its marketing. The collection included items from the start of GI Joe through the 1990s-2000s when 3½-inch action figures were produced, as well as commemorative 12-inch figures. About 80 percent of the auction was vintage, which is the most valuable era for GI Joe items, according to Ellen Miller, director of catalog and specialty auctions at Cordier.
When the toy was introduced, GI Joe was a soldier, marine, sailor or pilot. Toward the end of the 1960s and into the early 1970s as the Vietnam War became unpopular, GI Joe was rebranded as an adventurer.
Other high points of the sale included a 1964 GI Joe Black Action Soldier, one of the first toys of its kind to be marketed specifically to African American children. Mint in the original box, it finished at $1,003.
The turn of phrase, and the toys themselves, grew to be so iconic that GI Joe was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, N.Y., in 2003.
The May 6-7 auction contained an astounding number of radios and accessories, all from the collection of one dedicated enthusiast. A Scott Philharmonic Version 1 in a Warrington 84 cabinet was the top lot of the collection, bringing $2,360 after some heavy competition. The floor model radio dates to the 1930s.
Other floor consoles also drew many bidders, with a 1940 Zenith bringing $1,888 and a beautifully decorated 1929 Zenith console selling for $1,298.
A remake of Lancaster, Penn., network WGAL’s 1923 broadcasting station stood out among the equipment offered. Created by Lloyd Jury using period parts, the station was modeled after the original by Jacob Mathiot and included paperwork as well as related photos and information. It sold to a Pennsylvania bidder for $1,888.
Tabletop radios were the subject of fierce competition on both days, with top lots including a 1938 Zenith Waltons Tombstone model ($2,242) and an Emerson Catalin Tombstone example ($1,652). A grouping of five tabletop radios including a Cadet sold for $1,416 on the first day of the sale.
More than 13,000 radio tubes from various manufacturers (many in the original boxes) were offered, including dozens of rare examples. Of note was a 1909 DeForest Audion tube in a display case, which brought $944. A 1939 Western Electric Pentode tube in the original box sold for $649.
Miller said, “Interestingly, both single-owner collections were accumulated in about ten years. When we produce a specialty auction we see they are so specialized that the consignors, who tend to buy really good things, offer a collection that attracts good participation from other specialists.”
Prices quoted above include the buyer’s premium. For further information, 717-731-8662 or www.cordierauction.com.
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November 29, 2022
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