Published: June 5, 2018
Review by R. Scudder Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy Morphy Auctions
DENVER, PENN. – Pat and Jim Kelley are collectors of many things, such as art glass, fine linens and fabrics, and things that caught their eyes, but the avenue of collecting that they are best known for is antique dolls. Their collection of French bobéches and German character children, close to 100 lots, got Morphy’s toy and doll auction off to a fine start on May 16, a sale with 847 lots that brought in $794,000. Bidders were spread out, with about 35 people in-house, close to 300 internet bidders and 41 phone bidders.
Early in the sale, a two-faced Googly soldier, 9 inches tall, with one side resembling a Turkish soldier, and the other with a green rimmed hat is most likely French. All of these dolls are hard to find, but this is the hardest of all in the series. With a high estimate of $1,200, it sold for $2,304. A few lots later, a petite Bru smiling fashion doll, 12 inches tall, sold for $2,214, close to the high estimate. This doll has tiny, blue glass eyes, a defined nose and the hint of a smile on her lips. Her shoes are made of off-white silk with flat soles, and all the underwear is antique.
A bid of $3,300 won a nice fashion doll with wooden articulated body, 16 inches tall, with Barrois-like qualities. The doll has cornflower blue glass eyes, pierced ears and a closed mouth with slight smiling expression. A French Vichy automaton schoolboy with dunce cap, 29½ inches tall, sold just under the high estimate for $5,535. This musical automaton dates from the late Nineteenth Century and depicts a young male student seated on top of his school desk with a school lesson in his left hand.
A selection of still banks included the Black Pool Tower, cast iron, excellent condition, for $154; the Empire State Savings Building in original condition, 11 by 6¾ inches, brought $352; and a cast iron Cincinnati Battleship, 10 inches long, original paint, went for $1,353.
A large selection of mechanical banks followed with a cast iron Atlas bank in working condition selling within estimate for $2,768, and the popular Jonah and The Whale by Shapard Hardware Co., also fell within estimate for $1,260.
J&E Stevens produced many banks, including the Darktown Battery mechanical bank that sold for $2,040, while towards the end of the banks a Hoop-La mechanical bank in excellent-plus condition by Harper, London, brought $1,476.
Cast iron toys included many horse-drawn examples, including a ladder wagon, American made, probably Kenton, 29 inches long, with three articulated horses pulling the wagon. This toy has drivers front and back, three wooden ladders, and the wagon is painted blue. It went for $800, over estimate. Several lots later a large cast iron Shimer Police Wagon went for $2,214, within estimate. Measuring 19 by 5 inches, it is one of the largest horse-drawn cast iron wagons made by William Shimer & Son.
Due to the vast number of cast iron doorstops and bookends in the sale, grouping was the logical answer or the auction might still be in progress. A group of six cats in various positions went for $252, eight frog doorstops sold for $275, 11 basket of flowers doorstops brought $352, and 11 elephants, both bookends and doorstops, $224.
Selling for $2,400, twice the high estimate, was lot 344, a German Lehmann tin flywheel man going to the fair toy, with box, dating from the late Nineteenth Century. This toy is all original, including the fan marked 1889 on the front. Except for a couple of spots of paint loss, the toy is in excellent condition.
A lot of two early German hand-painted steam attachment toys include a woman at a well with a bird and donkey, and the second is a scene of four men sitting at a table drinking. Listed in very good condition, the lot sold for $1,968, over twice the high estimate.
An early French Mignot circus set, with the original box with a label on front that says “Fabrique Francaise, Paris,” includes several lead and composition figures in front of a circus audience backdrop. There is a three-piece band, with conductor on top. It went over the high estimate, selling for $1,280. Another circus-related lot is an unusual hand-carved wooden folk art circus display that includes wagons, sideshow performers, horses and patrons. It is accompanied by an article about the maker, Verne C. Fortney, a retired Pennsylvania mailman from Tyrone, Penn. The lot sold for $1,408, within $100 of the high estimate. A bid of $3,690 took the Japanese tin litho friction spacemobile and pilot toy, with box and in excellent condition. The original 98-cent price tag was still attached.
A lot of five friction and windup Flintstone toys and memorabilia, including three with the original boxes, sold well over the $900 high estimate at $3,383. Among the toys in this lot were a Hanna Barbera Marx Barney Rubble in an auto, a Marx windup Barney Rubble riding Dino and a Flintstone Flivver with Fred driving. In near mint condition was a vintage Nos Norfolk & Western engineer’s denim jacket that appears never to have been worn. It brought $4,480, well over the $1,500 high estimate.
Among the many lots being sold from the Ray Bentley collection is a brass model of an MS Stewart tank in case, done with many details, near mint, that went for $7,995, well over the $1,800 high estimate. More than 200 lots of railroad pieces from the Bentley collection closed out the auction, including a live-steam 440 locomotive and tender, near mint condition, that sold for $4,160, more than the $1,500 high estimate.
Prices given with buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Morphy’s next sale of toys, dolls and figural cast iron will be conducted September 12-13. For information, 877-968-8880 or www.morphyauctions.com.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm