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How To: Michael Bertoia Discusses Collecting Antique Toy Banks

Michael Bertoia, Auctioneer/Coordinator at Bertoia Auctions, has 8 years of experience working with toy banks and other collectibles. He tells us the fascinating story behind the popularity of antique toy banks

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Marklin 'Stephenson's Rocket' train sells for $121K at Noel Barrett auction

NEW HOPE, Pa. - If variety is the spice of life, auction house owner Noel Barrett was the undisputed king…

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Bertoia's gears up for Mar. 27-28 auction of Max Berry toys, mechanical banks

VINELAND, N.J. – In describing what awaits bidders on March 27-28 when Bertoia Auctions presents Part II of Washington attorney…

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Barrel of Monkeys opens up about turning 50

Everyone of a certain age remembers playing the game Barrel of Monkeys. The author provides a behind-the-scenes account of how…

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‘Serious’ array of toys, pop culture in Morphy’s Sept. 6-7 auction
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Baravelli (Italy) circa-1966 boxed Batman Rocket Gun. Est. $1,000-$1,500. Morphy Auctions image

DENVER, Pa. – The first Toy & Pop Culture Auction produced by Morphy’s under the supervision of specialist Tom Miano will be held over the weekend of Sept. 6 and 7, with Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers. Miano, founder of Serious Toyz, is now a member of Morphy’s team and heads the Pop Culture department. He called on his many longtime customers and connections within the toy community to create a fantastic 1,271-lot lineup of items that includes:

• 400 lots of slot cars

• Spy toys and collectibles, including an extremely rare James Bond Thunderball gun in box, a Man from U.N.C.L.E. Illya Kuryakin gun set in box, original movie posters, and much more

• Superhero items including a rare Baravelli Batman Rocket Gun in box, and one of only two known examples of a 1942 DC Comics promotional ashtray, plus a grouping of scarce Green Hornet items

• Die-cast Dinky vehicles, including a highly sought-after Gift Set #990 in box

• Beatles items, including a record player in beautiful condition, a boxed Big Six Guitar, a factory-sealed box of Hair Pomade, a Yellow Submarine production animation cel, and more

• Approximately 50 Japanese tin cars, including coveted examples by Marusan, Isuzuki, Alps, Bandai, Yonezawa and many others

• A nice assortment of original 1960s/’70s rock concert posters and record store displays for Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Elvis Presley and many more

• An extremely rare MIB example of Remco’s "Hamilton Invaders" Playset, a boxed Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea set, a rare Frankenstein figural candle, and many other sci-fi/monster lots

• TV character collectibles, including many rare and hard-to-find items from The Munsters, Addams Family and many other ’60s TV favorites

• A collection of ventriloquist toys including Charlie McCarthy, and characters made famous by Paul Winchell, Shari Lewis and others

• A large group of unfired Western cap guns, including boxed examples of a Kilgore "Long Tom" and a Nichols Stallion 41-40, as well as cowboy and Western items from Hop-a-Long Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke and others

• Toys and collectibles for cartoon favorites from Disney, Hanna-Barbera, Harvey, United Features, Warner Bros and many others, including toys, figures, animation production cels and more

• Space toys: rare tin battery-ops, ray guns and robots; plus space character toys from Lost in Space, Star Wars, Star Trek, and more

• Tin battery-ops in boxes, including a Marx Kooky Spooky Tree and NBC camera truck

• Many other types of toys and pop-culture collectibles, including board games, dolls, model kits, retail displays, movie posters, advertising, gas station premiums and much more

For additional information on any item in the sale, call 717-335-3435 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

altView the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.


Usagiya (Japan) early 1960s Fiat friction car in original box, one of two color variations of this model to be offered. Est. $50-$100. Morphy Auctions image

The Beatles record player, 1964, one of only 5,000 produced. Est. $2,500-$4,000. Morphy Auctions image

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Industry news flows from Comic-Con International
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There were literally thousands of fans in costume, also known as 'cosplayers,' at the convention. Photo by J. Kevin Topham-Ostrich.

SAN DIEGO – Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Comic-Con International: San Diego, saw the Hollywood PR machine in full force, literally thousands of attendees in costume, and plenty of transactions going on from comic books and T-shirts to movie prop replicas and limited edition hardcover books.

Attendees filled panel discussion after panel discussion, the show floor, and seemingly every bit of walking space between the San Diego Convention Center and the entire historic Gaslamp Quarter. Local hotels, restaurants, cabs, car services and pedi-cabs reported brisk – and frequently overflowing – business.
winduptraintinplatetin lithosuperherosportsspace toysoldiersci-firobotringprewarpressed steelpetrolianaMr. Peanutmechanical bankLehmannholidayHalloweenElastolincowboycomic bookCoca-ColaclockworkChristmascast ironcap gunBatmanbaseballbankautomotiveauctionantiqueadvertising 16 Nov 2012
Robots, advertising, Western collectibles and toys, toys, toys at Morphy’s, Dec. 6-8
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J. & E. Stevens cast-iron Lion Hunter mechanical bank, est. $40,000-$50,000. Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, Pa. – Morphy’s big December Premier Auction is many a toy collector’s favorite way to usher in the holiday season. This year’s event, slated for Dec. 6-8, is brimming with 2,800 lots of toys, banks and other choice pieces that would put a Christmas-morning gleam in any bidder’s eye. The three-day offering also features several top-notch collections, including the late Tom Winge’s cowboy and Western toy collection, Part II of the Jack Matthews toy soldier collection, and Dave DiMartino’s collections of robots, space toys, and vintage advertising figures. Internet live bidding will be provided by LiveAuctioneers.com

The Thursday, Dec. 6 session will open with 150+ occupational shaving mugs. Estimates range from $500-$3,000. A crane operator mug is expected to fetch $2,000-$3,000.

Approximately 60 lots of upright coin-operated machines will follow. Leading the category is a Gabel’s Double Dewey 5/25-cent machine, which is estimated at $100,000-$125,000. Other upright coin-op highlights include a Mills Lone Star 5-cent machine, est. $90,000-$110,000; and a Caille Bullfrog 5-cent model, $40,000-$60,000.

Next to cross the block will be Dave DiMartino’s figural advertising collection. The figures in this collection – many made in the 1940s/’50s – promote automobiles, clothing, alcoholic beverages, health care products and other goods. Among DiMartino’s favorites are figures pitching Dr. Scholl’s, Bostonian Shoes, Martell Cognac and Keen’s Korn Kure, which is a mechanical window display, est. $1,500-$2,000.
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Heritage's comic book auction could top $6M Feb. 22-24
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Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

NEW YORK – The Billy Wright Collection, a newly CGC-pedigreed collection—featuring five of the top six comic books in the hobby, all unrestored and all offered without reserves—leads the way in Heritage’s Feb. 22-24 Vintage Comics and Comic Art Signature® Auction, taking place at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion (Ukrainian Institute of America) at 2 E. 79th St. (at Fifth Avenue).

“While a relatively small collection of little more than 300 comic books,” said Lon Allen, managing director of Comics Auctions at Heritage. “The Billy Wright Collection represents not only five of the top six comics in the business, but also 45 of the top 100 comics overall, all unrestored.”

Those top comics include Detective Comics no. 27 (DC, 1939) CGC FN+ 6.5, the first appearance of “The Bat Man” (Estimate: $475,000+); Action Comics no. 1 (DC, 1938) CGC GD/VG 3.0, the most important comic book ever published (Estimate: $325,000+); All-American Comics no. 16 (DC, 1940) CGC VF 8.0, the debut of Green Lantern (Estimate: $125,000+); Batman no. 1 (DC, 1940) CGC VF+ 8.5, a superb copy of the first official Batman comic (Estimate: $125,000) and Marvel Comics no. 1 (Timely, 1939) CGC VF- 7.5 (Estimate: $125,000+).

In complement to the Billy Wright copy of Detective no. 27, Heritage will also be offering another copy of the famed comic book, this one in a lesser grade, CGC 2.0, estimated at $80,000+, giving collectors two chances to own one of the greatest comic books of all time.

Collectors will also take special note of the amazing Curator Pedigree run of Fantastic Four comics, led by a superb CGC 9.4 graded copy of Fantastic Four no. 5, estimated at $55,000+.

“Not much is known about this collection,” said Ed Jaster, senior vice president of Heritage Auctions, “but many experts agree that the Curator books are among the best Silver Age Marvel comics available, and many of these FFs are the highest-graded copies in existence.”
winduptrucktraintinplatetin lithoSpider-Manpenny toymotorcycleMickey Mousemechanical bankMarklinLionelKentonJapaneseHubleycomic bookcomicCoca-ColaBuddy 'L'BatmanauctionArcadeantiqueadvertising 18 Jan 2012
Morphy’s Feb. 9-11 auction laden with toys, trains, comics
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Marklin 1-gauge King Ludwig’s Bavarian Royal Court train set, contemporary limited edition with three original boxes; original cost $7,500. Est. $2,000-$4,000. Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, Pa. – More than 2,000 lots of antique toys, trains, advertising and rare comics are primed and ready to make their appearance Feb. 9-11 in Morphy Auctions’ first sale of 2012. Start times are set for 10 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m. for the Saturday session. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide the Internet live bidding for all three days.

The fun begins with 350+ lots of Coca-Cola and other soda pop advertising. Highlights include a 1929 Orange Crush calendar with full pad, est. $700-$1,200; a 1900 Coca-Cola serving tray, $3,000-$4,000; and a complete set of 10 original Coca-Cola advertising pocket mirrors from the years 1906-1916. The set is expected to fetch $1,800-$2,500.

Following the soda pop section, there will be 150 general advertising lots, including an Ingraham Hills Liver Ticker reverse-on-glass clock with the image of a pretty girl, $3,000-$4,000; and a small grouping of dye cabinets, including examples promoting Peerless Dyes and Diamond Dyes.

After a very successful initial outing in December at Morphy’s, part two of an advanced collection of advertising figures will cross the auction block, together with additional consignments of comparable quality. In all, there are approximately 100 lots of figures produced from the 1920s to 1950s.
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All-star cast in Universal Live animation sale Dec. 27
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Original production cel used in the production of a Dr. Seuss cartoon, believed to be produced by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, 10 1/2 inches x 12 1/2 inches. Estimate: $100-$160. Image courtesy of Universal Live. NORTHBROOK, Ill. – Animation art—the second half of a dealer’s large collection—will comprise Universal Live’s entire auction Tuesday, Dec. 27, which will begin at 6 p.m. Central. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide Internet live bidding.

Universal Live President Martin Sharp said that of the 338 lots to be sold “at least 50 percent of them are new characters” since the suburban Chicago auction company sold the first half of the collection on Dec. 11.

Many of the lots are original production animation cels, some dating as early as the 1940s. Others are serigraph cels produced in limited editions. There are also original paintings of comic characters by Dick Duerrstein, who was creative director of Disney’s Consumer Product Division before devoting his career totally to creating artwork.

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Superheroes, comic book stars in Universal Live Dec. 11 animation art sale
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Original animation production cel and background from the TV series ‘X-Men,’ signed in black Sharpie by Stan Lee. Est. $550-$840. Universal Live image.

NORTHBROOK, Ill. – The suburban Chicago auction house Universal Live is wall to wall with artist-signed animation cels and original production art in the run-up to its Dec. 11 sale, which will feature Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com. The 206-lot selection comes from a noted dealer who is moving into other areas of art.

Universal Live president Martin Shape remarked, “In terms of quality, it is the best assortment of original animation art we have ever offered. There’s some very collectible, early material that’s very hard to find. You just don’t find it any more. And there’s tremendous variety – every conceivable subject in animation art is included.” Among the characters represented in the sale are Yogi Bear, Woody Woodpecker, Frankenstein Jr., Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Ren and Stimpy, Huckleberry Hound, the Flintstones, and additionally, nearly every superhero to leap from comic book pages in the past 50 years.

Shape said the earliest artwork in the sale is an animation production drawing of the Disney character Goofy, from the 1939 film “Goofy and Wilbur.” A black-pencil on paper depiction of Goofy out for a day of fishing with his grasshopper friend, the 10 by 12 inch drawing is conservatively estimated at $200-$310.

Disney drawings and cels cover a period of several decades, into the 1970s, and include Snow White & 7 Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio (1940), Jungle Book (1967), Tarzan (1970), Bambi (1942) and many more.
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Action Comics #1 featuring Superman’s debut sells for record $2,161,000
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NEW YORK (ACNI) – In a story worthy of a comic book adventure itself, a highly graded copy of Action Comics #1 has set a world record price for a comic book, selling yesterday for more than $2.1 million. The 1938 comic book, stolen a decade ago from a high-profile collector and thought lost forever, was rediscovered earlier this year in an abandoned storage unit.

Certified by independent third-party grading firm Certified Guaranty (CGC) as a 9.0 (out of 10) – the highest-graded, publicly certified copy of Action Comics #1 – the book featuring the first appearance of Superman was auctioned by ComicConnect.com for $2,161,000. It was the culmination of a journey that amazed many.

The bidding for the issue closed at 7:25 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011, after 50 bids. The keenly watched offering had cleared the million-dollar mark earlier, joining only four other comic books that have achieved such heights.

ComicConnect sold the first of them, a CGC-certified 8.0 copy of Action Comics #1, February 22, 2010, for $1 million. Three days later, Dallas-based Heritage Auctions sold a CGC-certified 8.0 copy of Detective Comics #27 – the May 1939 publication heralding the first appearance of Batman – for $1,075,500. ComicConnect reclaimed the top spot on March 30, 2010 with the sale of a CGC-certified 8.5 copy of Action Comics #1 for $1.5 million.

Additionally, the company sold a CGC-certified 9.6 copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, the August 1962 first appearance of Spider-Man, for $1.1 million in March 2011. ComicConnect does not charge a buyer’s premium.
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Abell’s Celebrity Collector’s Auction set for Dec. 3 in LA
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Porsche Spyder battery-operated kids car, Pennewitz design, serial number 5500086, length 62 inches. Estimate $1,000-$2,000. Abell Auctions image.

LOS ANGELES – On Saturday, Dec. 3 at 12 noon Pacific time, Abell Auction Co. will present a special Celebrity Collector’s Auction, with Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com. The sale consists of 300 lots of American and international film posters, Disneyana, comic books, toys and related art; and first-edition books. Additionally, bidders will be able to choose from an outstanding selection of fine and modern art, designer luggage, furniture and cars.

This auction will feature: a Leica M7 Hermes Edition camera (in original box), Louis Vuitton and Cristofle travel bar set, Louis Vuitton luggage, Ferrari and Lamborghini luggage, a life-size limited edition “Robby the Robot” by Fred Barton, (ed. 14/100), Japanese samurai armor and swords, model trains, exotic humidors, McIntosh stereo components, Ramones electric guitar with dedication from Johnny Ramone, collection of vintage pinball machines, a 1955 Cadillac Series 60 Fleetwood sedan, a male skeleton in a glass enclosure, comic book hero figurines and an important library of first edition books including Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Italian, German, American and Russian film posters include Walt Disney’s Bambi, A Clockwork Orange, Dirty Harry, Blow Up, Il Conformista, The Incredible Shrinking Man and 2001: A Space Oddysey. Italian and French liquor and other advertisements include Massiot Sandeman, Roby's Toni Kola "La Belle et la Bete," Viano "Manon," Licor Sant Jordi and others. In addition, a series of vintage Egyptian and European travel posters will be auctioned.
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