Published: June 25, 2019
Review and Onsite photos by R. Scudder Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy of RSL Auctions
WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. – The Toys and Banks of Summer got ahead of June 21, the first day of summer, and fell under the hammer of Rick Opfer, auctioneer, on June 1 at RSL Auction Gallery. Starting at 10 am, 577 lots were sold, bringing in a total of $742,000.
A total of 307 people bid on the web, taking 23 percent of the lots, 32 people were in house bidding, 56 people left bids and 36 bidders were on the phone – “impressive numbers for a small auction,” Leon Weiss, partner in the auction house, said.
Silvered lead banks were the first to go, receiving a mixed welcome, with some bringing bids that reflected the reserve, while others went with little interest. For example, the Gnome in Shoe & Tyrolean Hat on Mountaineers Satchel brought only $72, way under low estimate of $175. This bank, made in the 1930s in Germany, was listed in excellent condition with one missing trap. The Bee Collector had more interest, selling above the high estimate of $400 to bring $660. This bank, listed in pristine condition, was sculpted by J. Schmou in Germany in 1910.
Two very unusual banks depicting the Iron Maiden of Nuremberg, German, 1920s, were composed of tin and lead with a high estimate of $400. It sold for $480. A hooded and caped Munich Girl Standing by Keg, made of bronzed lead in 1920s Germany, brought the exact high estimate of $300. She was rated fine condition. A feisty looking green spelter Cockatoo, 4 inches tall, made in 1920s Germany brought $780, just a touch over high estimate of $750. He was in pristine condition.
Moving to cast iron banks, a Cabin Bank by J&E Stevens, 1885, in very fine condition, just barely went above the high estimate bringing $480. The Magician Bank, also by J&E Stevens, 1890, being repainted on desk and face, was listed as fine overall. It managed to go over the high estimate of $1,250 to sell for $1,560.
Unique Art Company of Newark, N.J., made a “Howdy Doody” Piano, of tin, in 1935. This windup toy, very colorful, is in pristine condition with a very fine original box. High estimate was $500; it sold for $600. Another cute tin windup was “Peter,” a male figure with red vest and neat hat, sitting in a three-wheeled cart sporting spiraled multicolored wheels. Made by E.P. Lehmann in Germany, 1932, it was listed as excellent plus condition and sold for $840, just under high estimate. Another tin toy, not a windup, was a “D-OLAF” Bomber with four of its original bombs, made in Germany in 1930s. Green with red Swastika on the tail, it is in very fine condition. At 10¼ inches in length it sold for $1,080, over its high estimate.
A cast iron Hose Reel being pulled by two horses is in a scarce green color. Made by Dent Hardware Company in Fullerton, Penn., in 1905, measuring 19 inches in length and marked pristine plus condition, it sold for just under high estimate for $3,360. In very fine condition of tin, a classic Chauffeured Limousine made by Gebruder Bing, Nuremberg, Germany, 1912, is 16 inches long. With the chauffeur focused on his driving, he brought $3,960, just over low estimate. Another tin toy, Open Touring Car, Converse, American, 1915, painted red and green with gold highlights, rode along on its 15-inch length to bring $2,520, which was over the high estimate. Condition listed as excellent plus and bright.
A 13½-inch-tall Vertical Steam Engine, composed of tin, brass and iron is in pristine condition, was made by Ernst Plank in 1920s Germany, and brought $900, the high estimate. A wooden folk art model of a “Great Lakes” ferry boat, the Eddie Martin out of Detroit, was made in America in the 1890s. Twenty inches in length, it is listed as very fine with a missing stair railing. This ferry sold just above low estimate at $1,680.
Turning to cast iron still banks, the first item was Billy Possum Bank (Possum & Taters), made by J.M. Harper, Chicago, in 1909. Provenance of this bank, in near mint condition, is Andy and Susan Moore Collection. High estimation was $12,500, selling for $9,600. A black Seal on Rocks by Arcade Mfg. Co., Freeport, Ill., in 1913 listed as pristine plus, brought $1,080 under the high estimate of $1,200. Also by Arcade, 1910, was a Rhino Bank in near mint condition, previously owned by Dr Z Collection, bringing $840, slightly over high estimate. One of the finest painted Apple Banks ever shown, from the William Werbell Collection, was made by Kyser & Rex, Philadelphia, in the 1880s. In mint and bright condition, estimated for $2,5/3,500, it brought $3,600. Also, a blue Castle Bank by Kyser & Rex, provenance Donal Markey, under pristine condition rating, went over high estimate and brought $2,280.
Kenton Hardware, Kenton, Ohio, created a large Statue of Liberty still bank, painted green, in 1915. RSL said in their catalog that maybe one in 50 examples bore this color. Today it is in near mint and bright condition and bears the provenance of Donal Markey Collection. Estimated to bring $3,5/4,500, it sold for $3,240. Rooster Bank by A.C. Williams, Ravenna, Ohio, 1915, is white with red comb and listed in pristine condition. The catalog states the paint is guaranteed to be original. With a high estimate of $2,500, the bank sold for $1,080. The Magician Bank, by J&E Stevens, 1890, did really well, more than doubling the high estimate of $4,000 to sell for $8,400. Very colorful with a blue base, red table and yellow highlights, it won a rating of excellent plus.
A spelter Lamb with Pink Bow by George Heyde Co, Germany, 1925, is 3¾ inches tall. Listed in pristine condition, it sold over high estimate for $1,080. Going well over the high estimate of $500, a “Nazi” Hat with Eagle, tin, in excellent condition, sold for $1,680.
The last four banks reported here were all by Kyser & Rex. The first, a Boy Stealing Watermelon mechanical bank, circa the 1890s, in pristine condition with a provenance of Steckbeck Collection, was estimated to bring $4,500 and sold for $6,000. The second, made in the 1880s, Uncle Tom with Star – no lapels, in very fine condition, brought over high estimate at $960; the third was Butting Buffalo, 1888, in pristine condition bringing $8,640 under the high estimate of $9,000; and the last, Mammy – Red Dress, retaining the original spoon, is rated in excellent plus condition. Very colorful, it brought $4,800, just under the high estimate of $5,000.
RSL Auctions has announced an auction for November 9 with at least 300 still banks. Leon Weiss notes that “It may grow to two days with 500 stills.”
All prices, as reported by the auction house, include buyer’s premium. For more information, www.rslauctionco.com or 908-823-4049.
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