Published: December 30, 2003
The late doll collectors Faith Atkinson and Jane Anderson lived not far apart, one in Short Hills, N.J.; the other in Saylorsburg, Penn. It is unlikely they ever met, although it is certain they shared a common love of antique childhood objects. On November 8-9, the collections of the two women were merged in a Theriault’s 530-lot auction of antique dolls, toys and childhood ephemera that included rare Christmas decorations.
A testament to the auction’s diversity, and its appeal to a wide range of doll collectors, was Theriault’s receiving the second highest number of absentee bids in company history. The catalog was also the second best selling in its 30-year history, surpassed only by the legendary estate of Mildred Seeley sold by Theriault’s in 2002. All prices cited include a ten percent buyer’s premium.
The Saturday auction, comprising rare antique dolls, was highlighted by a painted eye German bisque character doll by Marseille that soared to $26,400 ($8/11,000) and a stunning 26-inch bébé by Leon Casimir Bru that sold for $23,100.
French bébés by Emile Jumeau were highly favored in the auction: examples include a size ten portrait $9,900, size eight Depose EJ at $9,020 and size nine earliest model EJ at $18,150.
Little all-bisque mignonettes are especially sought by collectors now and the Jane Anderson collection featured a fine selection, many originally purchased from Theriault doll auctions during the 1990s; a five-inch French all-bisque with bare feet went to $1,760, another five-inch with smiling expression also reached $1,760, while a five-inch model with ball-jointed elbows went to a delighted collector for $4,730.
Little dolls did not need to be entirely bisque to be popular; a pair of all-original superbly costumed dollhouse soldiers soared to $3,080, a pair of Kestner bisque dolls, marked 155, went to $3,410 in vigorous bidding and a seven-inch Marquis and Marquise in original presentation box paraded to $2,860, all tripling their presale high estimate.
Because the Faith Atkinson collection was built during the 1950s it contained many rarities, virtually impossible to find today. Among these were the wooden walking dolls presented on the catalog cover, selling at $6,380 and $5,720, respectively. A musical automaton by the Prague firm of Pzebitschek, made in the early 1800s, was perfectly preserved under its original glass dome and sold at $11,550; and a medieval figure from the Dressel and Kister half-doll series soared to $4,070.
On Sunday, November 9, Theriault’s featured Christmas ornaments and ephemera, as well as a fine group of toys from the Jane Anderson collection. Of particular note was a hand-wind automation “Christmas Morning” made about 1890 by the German firm of Zinner and Sohne. Bidding was extremely active on the six-doll toy whose lithography was near-perfectly preserved, finally closing at $34,100, more than triple the high presale estimate.
A six-foot feather tree with 100 figural milk glass lights topped at $1,870, a 52-inch feather tree with innumerable glass ornaments went to $4,840 and a 17-inch German papier mache St Nicholas candy container in yellow snow-flecked suit soared to $6,380.
Tin toys from the Anderson collection included Riding on the Boardwalk selling at $1,210; and Einfalt’s Children at Tug of War at $1,485. Anderson had a particular fondness for toys by the American firm of Strauss, including “What’s It?” in original box, selling at $1,430, Big Show Circus that reached $935 and “Santee Claus” going to a delighted collector for $2,420.
The three-day auction weekend topped $1.3 million.
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