|By Susan Emerson Nutter
DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. — Steam was the key word of the June 15 Antique Toy Auction presented by Pook & Pook, Inc. in collaboration with toy expert and Antique Roadshow appraiser, Noel Barrett. Presented for bids were a plethora of fabulous toys along with salesman samples with these miniatures bringing top dollar this day.
At 43 inches long, the live steam traction engine model of a 36 horsepower 1912 Case tractor lead the auction selling for $13,420. Prices include a buyer’s premium. Having wood bunkers and a wood framed tin canopy, this model also boasted brass and steel components.
Another live steam traction engine; a model of a 1913 Burrell & Sons tractor also sold strong at $10,980. At 22 inches long, the 2-inch scale model was thought to be a salesman sample.
“Whether the area being discussed is stoneware, quilts, toys; whatever. If an item is in pristine condition; has all the bells and whistles collectors desire, these are the pieces that are doing very well at auction,” said Pook & Pook, Inc. Vice President, Jamie Shearer. “Sales at this auction reflected collectors are looking for and willing to pay top dollar for the rare and unusual in perfect condition.”
Another salesman sample that fits this description would be the 3 ½ inch high by 2 ¾ inch in diameter butcher block that sold for $3,172. In fantastic condition, this sample retained its original decal inscribed “Wolf, Sayer & Heller - Chicago Butcher Supplies - Handsome Market Fixtures.”
“That miniature butcher block was special, and its selling priced reflected that,” Shearer said.
And speaking of the butchering trade, an exceptional European-style butcher shop diorama including two carved and painted butchers wearing aprons, two butcher blocks and rows of carcasses of various cuts of meat was bid to $9,150. Housed in a facade painted to look like brick complete with potted plants, this diorama measured 21¾ inches high by 21½ inches wide.
“Another great piece, and it’s interesting both the butcher shop diorama and the salesman sample butcher block came from the same Louisville estate,” Shearer said.
When asked what surprised at this auction, Shearer was quick to mention the penny toys. “Penny toys were very hot for a very long time and then they kind of leveled off. We saw more interest and higher prices reached at this auction for penny toys than we’ve seen for a long time.”
Two Meier tin lithograph children sitting at school desks penny toys that included a girl with a cowboy image on her desk; a boy with a donkey (both of these being 2¾ inches high) and a child in a convertible high chair that was 4 inches high sold together for $1,037. Also obtaining that same winning bid were two Souvenir Universal Theatres Concession Co. tin lithograph hoop penny toys – one with a bicycle and one having a man carrying a flag. Each were 2¾ inches in diameter.
“Size helps where penny toys are concerned,” Shearer said. You can put 50 of them on a shelf and have a fantastic display that takes up very little room.”
Steiff items continue to have a following, but again, the pieces have to be pristine and a rare form to bring top dollar. A 63 inch high Steiff store display mohair camel wearing his original halter and having multi-colored tassels still retaining its original ear button and ribbon would be one such example. Estimated to sell between $500 and $800, this ship of the desert sold for $1,952.
Likewise, the Schoenhut name continues to have a major fan base. A Schoenhut painted wood Alderney Dairy Co. - Newark, NJ, horse-drawn delivery wagon complete with a driver, four tin milk cans, a wooden crate of milk bottles, two wire carriers; one with wooden bottles, the other filled with glass bottles sold for $2,074. This toy measured 13 inches long.
From the Collection of Bill and Stevie Weart came a French CIJ clockwork Alfa-Romeo race car that was 21 inches long. With three filler caps, operable steering, hand brake lever, Pnue Michelin tires, and a contemporary composition driver, this lot was bid to an impressive $6,100.
Another race car, this being a French Art Collection T35 Bugatti hand-built model made by master car builder J.P. Fontenells at 1/8th scale was driven to a $3,660 winning bid.
Pook & Pook, Inc. has always put together strong toy sales and with Noel Barret coming on board a few years ago, “We continue to acquire wonderful toys for our sales,” Shearer said. “It has been a huge plus for us working with Noel. Collectors know his name. He knows the collectors, where great collections are, when collectors might be ready to downsize, and he knows what buyers want. Combining that with our company’s known ethical and fair treatment toward both buyers and sellers makes for a great fit.”
Pook & Pook hosts two cataloged toy auctions each year and also puts together about three online toy sales as well. Their next cataloged toy event will take place in December.
Contact: (610) 269-4040