Published: July 6, 2021
Review by W.A. Demers
WILLOUGHBY, OHIO – A great looking early toy, a hand painted and litho tin clockwork Girl Blowing Bubbles from Germany floated to $9,900 at Milestone Auction’s June 26 sale of the Weissman toy collection. Standing on a litho platform, when wound, the girl’s arm moves and she puts the bubble blower in a bowl. A bellows in the platform blows air through the blower and makes bubbles. With actions working, the 8½-inch toy was accompanied by its original box. She is heading overseas.
The sale, for which the Weissmann collection was an important part, totaled $265,266, according to auction house owner Miles King. “Sell-through was 100 percent,” he said, “There were no reserves. It was strong all the way.” Approximately 3,500 registered bidders lined up online, on the phone and with left bids.
The Margaret and Joel Weissmann antique toy collection of German, French and English toys included automobiles, boats, airplanes, hand painted toys, go-rounds, penny toys, windups and more. “They [the Weissmanns] were old-time toy collectors and wrote for Antique Toy World,” said King, who noted that the cast iron, tin and windups in the sale were primarily theirs.
There were pressed steel trucks by Buddy L, Keystone, Steelcraft, Sturditoy, Marx, Smith Miller, Tonka, Turner and more in the sale. A 1926 Turner pressed steel bus entertained 44 bids before zooming off at $5,520. Described as “very rare” and “hard to find,” the toy was in original condition with a six-window body, full running boards, front bumper and headlights. It sported original light blue paint with a gold stripe and was 28½ inches long.
Among the windups offered, a French windup Bicycle Go-Round turned heads, beating its $800-$1,000 estimate to sell for $4,920. The early toy had great details and measured 7 inches. Fetching $2,220 was a Rossignol tin windup automobile & garage. The tin windup Peugeot automobile was made in France and came with a matching garage. Very detailed and with nice colors, the auto had an opening rumble seat and full body driver. The garage was equally detailed, sporting an early gas pump litho on the back. The car measured 14 inches, while the garage was 15 inches.
The clockwork category was represented by a scarce Schoenhut clockwork “Thomas’ Concert” picture, described as a living picture in which three tomcats – one playing the violin and the other two changing facial expressions as if singing – well, caterwaul for you. Made in the late Nineteenth Century, the clockwork worked well and the litho paper had bright colors. Measuring 13½ by 9½ inches, the toy went out at $3,120.
There were notable cast iron toys on offer. US Hardware cast iron large racing scull in original paint with no cracks or breaks made its low estimate at $2,400. Measuring 14½ inches long, the scarce toy featured eight varsity team rowers and a coxswain. The axle is articulated and the rowers move back and forth. Also in this category was an all original 12½-inch-long Arcade cast iron Allis Chalmers tractor with matching dump trailer. The rare part of this set is the original box for the trailer, which is almost never found. With nice tires and an Arcade sticker on the back of the trailer, the lot earned $2,400. Also rare was an Ives cast iron Palace Bank that exhibited no breaks or repairs, stood 8 inches high and finished at $1,920.
Everybody loves Popeye the Sailor Man, and bidders showed their affection by pushing a Linemar battery-operated Smoking Popeye on Spinach Can to $1,980. All original and complete, the toy had great colors and, more importantly, worked and smoked when tested.
Way before Fortnite, kids and adults too were entertained by optical toys. An interesting early optical toy with six 4-inch colorful discs was offered with a $200/400 estimate. Called a phenakistoscope, the toy was patented in 1905 as Dr Zimmerman’s Ludoscope. Also included were two early kaleidoscope crank Magic Lantern slides, and in there was a Victorian stereoscope viewer. The lot was bid to $1,860.
In a bit of irony that is not at all counterintuitive to a passionate collector, toys that look like they were never played with command the best prices. Such was the case with an original windup Aero-car that was made in US Zone Germany and came with a nice original box. Measuring 8 inches, the then futuristic car sped to $1,380.
Fetching the same price was a Strauss tin windup Ham & Sam Band with box. The minstrel team was all original and complete with arms and banjo, featured a nice litho and colors and came with its original box.
An unusual steam-powered toy in the sale was a German Teacher & Student, which featured a man playing the violin when the wheel turns. At 5 inches and in very good to excellent condition, bidders gave it a very good grade, chasing it to $1,110 against a $200/300 estimate. And there was a chauffeured 1933 Ingap windup cabriolet with electric lights that had been in the Danny Kubert collection, which motored to $1,860
Based on life-size automata from the Karakuri Theater in Japan, an early mystery Acrobat box toy brought $1,800. The acrobat performs somersaults down the steps, and when he’s not performing, the toy’s top inverts and the 4½-inch acrobat is stored in the bottom drawer. The storage box was paper covered and measures 4½ inches high by 2-7/8 wide by 6½ inches deep. Its country of origin was unknown, and it was believed to date from 1790-1820.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. Milestone’s next sale, a militaria auction, is set for July 17. For information, www.milestoneauctions.com or 440-527-8060.
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