Auctions Spotlight

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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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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 Mar. 27-28 auction of Max Berry toys Pt. II boosts series total to $6M

VINELAND, N.J. – Washington attorney Max Berry left Bertoia’s gallery on March 28th with a smile on his face –…

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Morphy Auctions to offer robot collection, European toy cars May 30-31

DENVER, Pa. – Robots are on the march again at Morphy’s. The Pennsylvania company’s May 30-31 Toy Auction containing 1,450…

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Slot car sets, farm toys to be featured at M&M Auctions, May 30

HOLBEACH, UK – M&M Auctions’ sale on May 30 is dedicated to specialist farm toys, diecast models and collectibles. The…

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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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Old Toy Soldier May 29-31 auction features top-notch Mike Endres collection

PITTSBURGH – Bidders are on their marks, and battle lines have been drawn for Old Toy Soldier Auctions’ (OTSA) May…

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Marklin 'Stephenson's Rocket' train sells for $121K at Noel Barrett auction
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NEW HOPE, Pa. – If variety is the spice of life, auction house owner Noel Barrett was the undisputed king of condiments over the weekend of December 5-6. His 926-lot Antique Auction colorfully ran the gamut from carousel figures and German Christmas ornaments to tattoo memorabilia and jewelry store motion displays. “And there were buyers for every single niche category,” said Barrett, known to collectors from coast to coast for his avuncular demeanor and expert appraisals on PBS Television’s Antiques Roadshow.

The auction, which utilized LiveAuctioneers for its online bidding, was anchored by two important collections: the Libby Goodman dollhouse and miniatures collection and a wonderful array of antique toys and trains amassed by renowned magician the late John Daniel and his wife, Kathy. In addition, the lineup featured a wealth of other toys, trains, signs and curiosities from approximately 40 other American and European consignors.

“This was one of our most eclectic sales ever. It contained a number of unusual single-owner pieces – family heirlooms that had been passed down through several generations,” Barrett said.

Grossing $1,120,000 (inclusive of 21% buyer’s premium), the sale breezed past its presale high estimate of $925,000. Leading the prices realized was a rare Marklin toy train replicating the real-life Stephenson’s Rocket that road the rails at record speeds from 1829 to 1840. Consisting of a locomotive with tender and two cars, the 25-inch-long train was offered with a $25,000-$35,000 estimate and ultimately sold for $121,000.
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Stephenson’s June 20 auction features 400 lots of vintage toys, dolls and Lionel trains
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Lionel pre-war train set. Stephenson's Auction image SOUTHAMPTON, Pa. – Dolls, toys and trains representing a timeline of more than 130 years will cross the auction block on Friday, June 20th at Stephenson’s in suburban Philadelphia. The 400-lot offering spans a legacy of toy making that begins with a cast-iron African-American-themed “Jolly” bank made in 1883 and runs all the way through the boomer era, represented by lithographed-tin toys of the 1950s-’60s, Lionel trains, and dolls. Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

“The auction includes a mixed selection with approximately half of the lots being dolls and the other fifty percent divided almost evenly between trains and toys of various types,” said Cindy Stephenson, owner of Stephenson’s Auctioneers & Appraisers.
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Mosby & Co. to auction top-quality antique toys, coin-ops & advertising items, June 7
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Original gouache on artist's board depicting the Santa Fe Super Stream Liner, created for 1952 Lionel catalog. Provenance: California estate of retired Lionel executive. Mosby & Co. image

FREDERICK, Md. – Approximately 450 lots of antique toys, coin-ops and advertising will cross the auction block at a Saturday, June 7 sale conducted by Mosby & Co., at the firm’s gallery located at 5714-A Industry Lane in Frederick, Maryland. The auction will start at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. Approximately 350 lots will be dedicated to toys and toy trains. Internet live bidding will be facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.com.

“There’s good, solid merchandise in this sale, including wonderful antique toys from two major single-owner collections, plus other quality consignments,” said Keith Spurgeon, owner of Mosby & Co. “One of the collections is so massive, it will take three auctions to liquidate it all. Part I includes fine examples of German, American and Japanese toys.”

Trains also feature prominently. A strong candidate for top-lot honors is an original Lionel gouache painting depicting a Santa Fe Super Streamliner train roaring through the desert. The work is from the estate of a former Lionel executive and was created as catalog art in 1952. In its wood frame, it measures 29½ inches by 10 inches.
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Planes, trains and more at Pook & Pook toy auction Sept. 6-7
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Pook & Pook Inc. image.

DOWNINGTOWN, PA. – Santa’s workshop doesn’t have anything on Pook & Pook these days. Looking out over the auction hall it is hard to miss the 45 tables and 16 showcases packed with antique children’s playthings, from cast-iron vehicles and banks to dolls to plush animals to board games. On Sept. 6-7, Pook & Pook Inc. will begin the fall season with a two-day toy sale that includes over 1,400 lots. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide Internet live bidding.
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Stephenson's plans colorful parade of dolls, toys & trains, Aug. 16
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Revell Gran Turismo Racing set in original box. Stephenson’s image.

SOUTHAMPTON, Pa. – If antique and vintage toy collectors could keep one source a secret to themselves, it would be Stephenson’s Auctioneers’ Doll, Toy & Train Auctions. Estate specialists who cover the Greater Philadelphia tri-state area, Stephenson’s experts have access to many long-held collections that aren’t even known to the collecting hobby. The next Stephenson’s toy auction to watch for is a 300-lot event slated for Friday, August 16th. The start time is 10 a.m. Eastern, and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

A prime candidate for top-lot status is a choice Lionel Freight Train Set No. 2293W. The circa-1961 set is complete with Pennsylvania GG-1 electric locomotive, milk car, transformer car, caboose, signal posts and even the four factory vehicles toted on the auto transport car. The set is in mint condition with outstanding paint and retains both its set box and individual boxes for storing the loco, tender and freight cars.
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NYC gallery to host Coney Island ‘Sideshow’ exhibit & sale May 2-25
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NEW YORK – The heart-stopping whoosh of a roller coaster on its downward trajectory, the sugary smell of cotton candy and salt water taffy, the sideshow barker’s incessant chant to “step right up and see the strangest sights on earth.” All played their roles in creating indelible memories for the millions of people who visited Coney Island over the last century.

While the golden era of New York’s most beloved amusement park has come and gone, relics of Coney Island’s colorful history and photos of its amazing cast of performers move back into the spotlight in “Sideshow,” an exhibition and sale running May 2-25 at The Ross Art Group’s Manhattan gallery. Sideshow’s featured collection belongs to Dr. Robert M. Lerch, a New York City physician and longtime collector of the bizarre and unusual. The exhibition chronicles roughly the first 50 years of Coney Island – whose first enclosed amusement park area opened in 1895 – with additional pieces from other early 20th-century carnivals and circuses.

The “backbone” of the show, said Ross Art Group’s owner, Mickey Ross, is the collection of 28 original architectural drawings and blueprints that conceptualized Coney Island carnival rides and structures.

“The drawings were created by amusement park ride inventor and manufacturer William F. Mangels (German/American, 1867-1958) and depict such classic rides as the ‘Whip,’ Loop roller coaster, and carousel horses with a mechanical function,” Ross said. Like all other items in the exhibition, the architectural designs will be available for purchase.

One of the most remarkable inclusions in the collection is the assemblage of circus photos by itinerant photographer Edward J. Kelty (American, 1888–1967). The grouping includes a number of Kelty’s inimitable 11 by 20in panoramic shots of performers known collectively as “the Congress of Freaks.”

“Kelty had a fascination for human oddities and spent 20 years following and photographing circus troupes. Once a year, the entire Ringling Brothers ‘Freak Show’ cast would gather for a group shot. It was a big event,” said Ross. “The pictures include every imaginable type of performer – sword swallowers, snake charmers, bearded ladies, fire eaters, and ‘giants and midgets,’ plus aerialists and clowns.” Kelty’s Congress of Freaks photos, which originally were sold to the performers themselves as mementos, are highly sought after by today’s collectors.
YonezawavintageShirley TempleSchoenhutMarxMarklinLionelLehmannHubleyGI JoefiguresdollDisneyDinkyclockworkcircusCheinBritainsBarbieBandaiauctionAmerican Flyerairplane 7 Mar 2013
Selections from GR Webster toy airplane collection to fly over Stephenson’s March 15 Dolls, Toys & Trains Auction
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J. Chein & Co. Mechanical Ferris Wheel with Disney characters, boxed. Stephenson’s image.

SOUTHAMPTON, Pa. – Vintage toy airplanes and other aviation-related items from the renowned Capt. GR Webster collection anchor the March 15 Spring Dolls, Toys & Trains Auction at Stephenson’s. The metro Philadelphia company has auctioned portions of the Webster collection in the past, each time attracting enthusiastic bidding from collectors worldwide.

The aviation selection, like everything else in the colorful 300-lot session, will be auctioned absolute and without reserve, meaning it will sell to the highest bidder regardless of price. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide the Internet live bidding.

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Bertoia's presents a no-reserve cast-iron toy auction March 16
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Strike up the bandwagon! Bertoia’s may decide to hold even more Concept Auctions if they prove to be music to customers’ ears. Bertoia Auctions image.

VINELAND, N.J. – On Saturday, March 16, Bertoia Auctions will present their 300-lot Concept Auction, in which all lots will be sold absolute and without reserve -- meaning each lot will sell for whatever price the auctioneer states as being final as the hammer falls. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide the Internet live bidding.

The auction will consist exclusively of cast-iron toys – primarily automotive, horse-drawn and work vehicles, supplemented by farm accessories, miniature cast-iron furniture and automotive accessories, such as gas pumps and street signs. Also included in the mix are cast-iron airplanes, motorcycles, doorstops, bottle openers, paperweights and toy stoves and ranges. There will also be a small section of banks in the sale.

Most items will be offered as groups in affinity lots containing three to five pieces per lot. Bertoia Auctions’ owner, Jeanne Bertoia, said the mixed lots contain “many eye-openers…There are a few near-mint-condition autos and many more-affordable toys that any entry-level collector would be proud to acquire.”

The list of automotive highlights includes numerous Kenton buses, a Kenton coal truck and Los Angeles blimp; a Hubley crash car and fire pumper, an Arcade panel van and other Arcade toys in boxes; a few Vindex pieces and several Buicks. The selection is rounded out by a multitude of work vehicles of various colors, sizes and types.
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Mosby's Nov. 10 auction features banks, toys, Americana & Civil War relics
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19th-century prototype sheet brass mechanical bank known as ‘Mr. Winkle’s First Shot,’ made from an inkwell. Mosby & Co. image.

FREDERICK, Md. – “Our customers like variety and the element of surprise that comes from never knowing what great things they’ll find in our sales,” said Keith Spurgeon, owner of Mosby & Co. Auctions. “They won’t be disappointed with what’s in store at our November 10th event.”

The 600-lot auction, with Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com, covers dozens of collecting categories, including still and mechanical banks, toys, military and historical relics; and Americana in many of its most coveted forms. The session will begin with part one of a single-owner collection of 120 American and European figural ceramic still banks with a timeframe ranging from the late 19th century through the mid-1950s. Top lots include a glazed, hand-painted Staffordshire spaniel head and a scarce German figural jester-head bank.

Leading the cast-iron mechanical banks is an Australian Grenadiers bank that may be the first example to turn up in the United States. It is designed similarly to the “Creedmoor” bank but includes a dog companion for the soldier. A prototype English bell-ringing brass bank, “Mr. Winkle’s First Shot,” was fashioned from an inkwell and depicts a hunter and a soldier that pops up when a coin is inserted.

Other mechanical banks include a Teddy and Bear, Artillery and a mystery bank discovered in California that displays writing in both Japanese and English. “We can’t determine whether it was made in America for the Japanese market or vice versa,” Spurgeon said. Made of embossed, copper-flashed tin, it has a paper-litho dial and a wheel that spins through the days of the week.

Tin toy highlights include a boxed Hans Eberl Topsy Turvy Tom wind-up car and boxed Gunthermann Fokker tri-motor. An appealing boxed French Tivoli Star marble-launching game comes with six cloth-dressed clowns with composition heads and wood bodies.
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