Published: January 22, 2002
VINELAND, N.J. – Still and mechanical bank collectors faxed, phoned, mailed, bid live by Internet and bid live in attendance for banks, tallying a figure of nearly $700,000 at Bertoia’s.
The Tom Stoddard bank collection, hailing from the coast of California and brought to Bertoia’s East Coast gallery, kept collectors at peak interest for two long auction sessions.
The 1,450-plus lots featured a mix of banks in varied mediums and included scarce mechanicals, from the Perfection Bank, which reached $16,500, to the desirable King Midas still bank, which fetched $5,225.
One of many silver rarities, a Church with Steeple, sold for $2,475, and a Staffordshire Bridge St Academy ceramic entry left the building at $3,300.
Because of the wide diversity of offerings, the prices were not as predictable as many collectors initially presumed. Rarity and condition seemed to make previous marks mere footnotes from the past, and while some of the catalog estimates were right on target, others were ignored by interested parties, reaching double, and at times more than triple, the inked amounts.
Particular interest was evidenced in the ceramic and pottery entries, which led to attentive demand for the lead, silver and cast-iron gems intermixed throughout the sale. Every grouping captured its own intense action, and the stir of bidding never slowed for two solid days. The quantity, as many remarked, was welcomed.
The collection was presented in small groupings with similar classification and mediums that gave the sale a collection of collections flavor. Ceramic examples, which have now been deservedly placed at the forefront of the collecting chain, claimed strong bidding action with Woman Carrying Duck Cage reaching $1,210; Girl on Bed, $715; Child Nursing Pig, $1,100; and Boy Playing Accordion, $1,430. There was no average price for any category of bisque, majolica or Staffordshire, but $300 to $1,000 was a given range for these examples, which coincidentally, numbered in the hundreds.
From the delicate to the ornate in metal – silver to be more precise – ornate examples created bidding battles during the auction sessions. Steins, a favorite shape for makers of silver penny savers received nods from $200 to $700 on average, while the most unusual and unique of the shiny savers commanded yet a further digit evidenced by the following: Figure Seated on Trunk, $1,430; Ornate Satchel, $1,320;
Cast-iron may still be considered the true heavyweight in its saver class. Popular example Peaceful Bill and Smiling Jim sold for $3,025; the rare Paul Jones Safe, $2,090; Old Homestead Safe, $1,100; large size Columbia, $3,300; and Seated Elephant, $1,540. As always, painted versions of any example brought premium prices, and rarity still brings common attention to itself.
The selection was not always as easy for collectors as the eyes might have wanted, but prices stayed consistently competitive for a two-session bidding stretch of nearly 12 hours.
Mechanical banks continue to perform actions, and cause plenty of action when not in use. Santa at Chimney with professionally repainted brickwork sold at $5,500; Scotsman bank, $2,090, and a pristine Spise a Mule Bank, $4,400.
Lead banks are beginning to gain on every category of still banks in recent years. A magnificent Scottish Boy example, $3,575; Clown with Pointed Nose, $2,200; Dog with Top Hat, $1,045; and the popular and very scarce Max and Moritz, $1,320.
A catalogue of this sale is available.
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