Published: December 20, 2016
Review and Onsite Photos by R. Scudder Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy Morphy Auctions
DENVER, PENN. – The temperature dipped below freezing on Friday, December 9, the first day of a three-day sale at Morphy Auctions, but many of the 498 lots offered that day generated lots of heated bidding. The auction had a 9 am start, with about 15 people in the gallery, a couple of bidding platforms ready to go, and members of the staff manning the phones. Just about every well-known company in the United States was represented in the collection of advertising that was offered, including the Mobilgas with Pegasus Socony Vacuum sign, 54 by 53 inches, shield shaped with good gloss and color. It sold within estimate for $1,920. All prices mentioned in this review include the buyer’s premium.
A wide selection of globe lenses came up early in the auction, including a White Owl “Crow” OPC milk glass globe body, 18 inches tall, excellent condition, that brought $2,160; a Purol-Pep gasoline 15-inch-diameter globe lenses in a porcelain HP globe body, $1,320; a Wildfire (gas) gill globe lenses brought $1,920, and a Phillips 66 globe lenses, 13½ inches in diameter, good condition, went for $1,320. All sold over the high estimate.
A Texaco (White T) Marine Products with star logo porcelain sign, 26 by 96 inches, excellent color, sold for $2,700, within estimate. A barber shop porcelain flange sign, 12 by 24 inches, excellent gloss and color, marked Marvy Company, sold within estimate for $360, and a Husky Dog porcelain sign, 57 by 72 inches, dog-shaped sign with panel below, went a bit over the low estimate bringing $10,200. A White Eagle “Burnt Nose” OPC globe, 16 inches tall, milk glass figural globe with a few small chips, sold at low estimate for $800.
Two hundred-fifty lots into the sale and it was Coca-Cola time, with about 100 lots of advertising, calendars, trays, lighting and displays being offered. A Coca-Cola Vienna art plate with a topless woman, 15 by 15 inches, original wood and gesso frame, sold six times over the high estimate for $4,800. It was followed a few lots later by a Coca-Cola tin button with aluminum arrow, circa 1950s, 20 inches long, listed in the catalog as “a museum-quality piece.” It sold over estimate for $1,440. A large Coca-Cola luncheonette self-framed tin sign, 59½ by 23½ inches, a rather scarce sign that shows the fish tail logo and pictures both a can and a bottle of Coke, very good condition, brought $984.
Dating circa 1950 was a Coca-Cola “Take a case home today” sign, 28 inches high, made by Robertson; it went for $800, within estimate. It is in very good condition and the catalog reports that “colors are incredible and it retains its original gloss.” A lot of six 1943 Coca-Cola service women advertising signs, the largest 21 inches high, included five different die-cut images of women holding a bottle of Coca-Cola with the stand. In excellent condition, this lot went for $2,214, in the middle of the estimate.
An extremely scarce advertising sign dating back to the 1880s was a Pemberton French wine coca tin advertising sign, 8½ by 4½ inches, framed behind glass and showing moderate wear. It sold within estimate for $2,000, and the catalog notes it is “almost impossible to find this sign in any condition.” Lot 323 was a box of Coca-Cola 1-gallon syrup containers, the box measuring 10 by 13 inches, two of the containers are tin litho, while the other two have paper labels, very good-plus condition, that sold within estimate for $873. An early golfing Coca-Cola advertising sign, 16¼ inches high, which noted both the number of the hole and par for that hole, with a Coca-Cola logo at the bottom, sold close to the high estimate for $720.
Several lots after the Coca-Cola material was an early tin Moxie convex sign, 27½ inches long, circa 1910-20, the classic look with strong colors, made by Kaufmann & Strauss, New York, excellent condition, that went just over the high estimate at $1,084, and a lot of two early cast iron coffee grinders, the largest 14 inches tall, sold for $469. One is from the Crown Coffee Mill in New Britain, Conn., and the other is from Grand Union Tea Company, complete with an early metal mug, which is inside of the lower section. The later one retains the original stenciling.
A bid of $738 took a Swifts Toilet Soaps glass advertising jar, 7 inches tall, with the “Swifts” logo on all four sides. It is in excellent condition, shows little wear, and sold for $738, within estimate, while a lot of three leather fireman’s helmets in fair condition brought $1,063, twice the high estimate. A “Railroad Express Agency” porcelain advertising sign, 72 by 11½ inches, very good condition, sold for $984, and a 1973 presidential inauguration Richard Nixon tin no parking sign, 18 by 12 inches, went for only $60.
The sale ended with a May Queen flat pocket tobacco tin, 3½ by 2¼ inches, yellow with black image and writing, that went out for $185.
About 25 people were scattered about the gallery when Dan Morphy opened up the second portion of the sale with 705 lots on Saturday at 9 am. Selling at the low estimate, $3,000, was lot 603, Butting Buffalo by Kyser & Rex, cast iron mechanical bank, in very good condition. When a coin is placed in the slot, the buffalo raises its head and butts a boy. Bad Accident by J&E Stevens, cast iron mechanical bank, excellent condition, sold over estimate for $1,845, and Shoot The Chute, also by Stevens, cast iron mechanical bank, went just over the low estimate at $5,313. Another Stevens cast iron mechanical bank, Germania Exchange, sold just shy of the high estimate at $5,400. The provenance lists the Pearlman collection and the bank was in good condition.
Selling within estimate at $3,125 was another J&E Stevens cast iron mechanical bank. Target, a repainted bank in excellent condition, went to $3,125, and still another Stevens cast iron mechanical bank, Acrobat, excellent condition, went over the high estimate, selling for $7,200. Red Riding Hood, cast iron mechanical bank by W.S. Reed, very good condition, depicting Red Riding Hood sitting on a bed with the wolf under the covers, brought $8,400, over the $6,000 high estimate.
Charles Bailey Baby Elephant, a lead mechanical bank, very good to excellent condition, sold within estimate at $5,400, and another Bailey lead mechanical bank, China Man in Boat, floated away at $11,685, well above the $8,000 high estimate. Kyser & Rex made the cast iron mechanical bank Roller Skating, with three moving figures on ice rink, very good to excellent condition, that sold just under the low estimate for $18,750, and another Stevens cast iron mechanical found a dentist pulling a patient’s tooth, a nice example in excellent condition for $12,300, within estimate. Also selling within estimate at $1,750 was the cast iron piano bank by E.M. Roche Novelty Co.
A cast iron lying down cat on base doorstop, 7½ inches tall, exceptional detailed casting, “Only example of the doorstop we have ever seen,” book example, sold for $480, and a cast iron Standing Bear pair of andirons, 17 inches tall, black painted, glass eyes and the original firedogs, went over the $450 high estimate, selling for $1,476.
A Strauss tin litho wind-up Tombo Dancing Jigger, 10¼ inches tall, original hat, brim and arms, excellent condition, went for $510; also by Strauss was a Ham & Sam tin litho wind-up piano toy, excellent, at $840; a Marx tin litho Army Supply Train, with box, 17½ inches long, brought $600; a tin litho wind-up Buck Rogers Rocket Police Patrol Ship, Marx, excellent condition, went for $1,320, and a Lehmann tin litho wind-up zigzag, with box, excellent, went for $2,813.
Selling very close to the high estimate at $3,383 was a rare Japanese tin litho battery-operated Space Man, 9 inches tall, with colorful box. It is marked ‘”Sonsco, Japan,” and is in excellent condition. Selling for $3,750 was a Japanese tin litho X-27 Explorer Robot, 8½ inches tall, with the original box and in excellent condition. It has great color, hand crank friction and the plastic shield is good as an antenna.
The sale ended at 4:15 pm, with Susie the Cashier Bear by Linemar selling for $154.
For additional information, www.morphyauctions.com or 877-968-8880.
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