Knickerbocker manufactured this composition Donald Duck garbed in a velvet Russian Cossack costume. In superior condition and retaining its original tag around its neck, the toy trampled its $400-600 estimate, selling for $3,575.
Very few examples of this variation of Kingsbury’s pressed steel aerial ladder truck are known to exist. The 35in firefighting vehicle is equipped with a wind-up motor known as a “Little Jim,” which was made exclusively for trucks shipped to J.C. Penney. This one sold within its estimate range for $5,500.
Color, graphics and subject matter – this lot had it all. A wonderful comic character production by Ingersoll, the set includes a child’s pocket watch, fob and amusing Three Little Pigs with Big Bad Wolf presentation box with usually missing “brick” insert. The inscription on the back of the watch reads: May the Big Bad Wolf never come to your door. The set achieved $3,575 against an estimate of $1,000-1,500.
The acclaimed American cast-iron toymakers, Arcade, produced this 8½in Yellow Cab bank. With all-original paint, it made $3,575 in Inman’s sale, more than double its low estimate.
Exhibiting a desirable overall patina, this cast-iron Lion and Monkeys mechanical bank charmed bidders, one of whom paid $2,860 to own the whimsical coin keeper.
“Only a handful are known,” said Randy Inman, referring to boxed examples of Marx’s Spic and Span tinplate wind-up toy. The presence of the rare original carton boosted the auction price to $4,125, thousands more than the plaything would have brought if “loose.”
Measuring 30in and made of painted wood, Arcade’s City Bus Terminal with busses was marketed by F.A.O. Schwarz in 1943. This particular example was never removed from its box, which was included as part of the auction lot. It sold for $5,500 against a $3,500-4,500 estimate.
ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Of 1,113 lots offered in Randy Inman’s March 12-13 Spring Toy Sale, only seven failed to find new owners. It was a result that delighted the Maine-based auctioneer, who admitted he had been keeping a nervous eye on the weather. A storm had been predicted for the region over that weekend, but Allentown, site of the mixed-toy auction, was spared and received only a light dusting of snow. By the second day of the sale, Sunday, the weather had turned almost springlike.
After the auction, Inman described the Saturday crowd as “huge … probably the biggest audience since our Buddy ‘L’ archive sale in March 2001.” Weather notwithstanding, the Internet proved its worth, especially on Sunday. “Over the two-day period, 25 percent of the lots went to eBay buyers. They did a lot of buying particularly at the lower end.”
Overall, prices hovered around the high catalog estimates for most lots, but there were dozens of exceptions where prices well exceeded presale hopes. A spectacularly graphic Ingersoll Three Little Pigs and Big Bad Wolf pocket watch and fob with colorful original box didn’t have to huff and puff to blow down its $1,000-1,500 estimate. It rose on its own power to $3,575 (all prices inclusive of 10 percent buyer’s premium).
A 1930s Kingsbury Lincoln Zephyr with trailer, 23in long and still possessing the original paper curtains in the trailer’s window, pulled in $1,540, more than twice its high estimate. It was one of many pressed-steel lots that performed well on the auction block, among them: a 1930s Keystone ambulance, 27in, complete with stretcher and cross-emblazoned flag, $2,420; and a Metalcraft 15in Pure Oil Co. tanker truck with Art Deco styling, $1,430.
A Sturditoy pressed-steel water tower truck with all decals intact brought $2,530, while a 35in Kingsbury aerial ladder truck with rare wind-up “Little Jim” motor made especially for J.C. Penney escalated to $5,500. A surprise lot was the 29in Turner pressed-steel sedan, professionally restored in sky blue and cream paint, which more than doubled its high estimate at $1,980.
The magic of the Buddy ‘L’ name was obvious. A 29in touring coach rumbled away at $6,600, and a superb example of the company’s 29in tugboat in very good to excellent condition approached the top of its estimate range at $14,300.
Among the steam engines offered, standouts included a 26in Corliss working model, $2,090; and a 20in model by Cretor’s & Co., $2,320. Even steam parts stirred competition, with a 9in brass-and-nickel valve configuration achieving $550 against a $25-50 estimate. A box lot of miscellaneous parts garnered six times its low estimate: $660.
On day two, additional pressed steel toys started things off with a bang, followed by American tin vehicles. A Marx 14½in tin H.Q. Staff car estimated at $400-600 commanded $2,310; and a 15in siren-equipped Police Patrol, also a Marx tinplate design, hammered $1,100. “It was all in the condition,” said Inman. “Those pieces came out of Rudy Kraft’s collection in Florida. Everything from that collection is in the nicest condition you could ever hope for.”
A diminutive (4½in) Steiff Mickey Mouse felt doll, new-old stock with original tag and metal button in its ear, amazed the crowd when it drew $2,860 against a $300-500 estimate. “I personally thought it might bring as much as $1,000 or even $1,500, but the original I.D.s took it a lot higher.”
Another knockout among the character toys was a Knickerbocker 10in composition Donald Duck in velvet Russian Cossack costume. Close to spotless and possessing its original manufacturer’s tag, it danced to a $3,575 conclusion against a $400-600 estimate.
Of the cast-iron still banks offered, a 9½in U.S. money box with eagle finial achieved $1,210, while a 4½in Elephant on Wheels (rare white rubber tires version) rolled away at $605. A coveted crossover piece, a fine example of Hubley’s 5¼in Baseball and Three Bats bank demolished its $200-400 estimate, selling for $1,870. A novelty Yellow Cab bank by Arcade also exceeded its estimate by a country mile, clocking up a hefty $3,575 fare. Leading the mechanical banks, an example of an early Lion and Monkeys model roared at $2,860.
Black Americana was strong throughout the sale, whether in the form of mechanical banks or tinplate wind-ups. A 1910 Marx tin Dapper Dan with original lithographed box estimated at $800-1,000 tapped merrily to $1,650, and a boxed Charleston Trio estimated at $800-1,200 hit a high note at $1,980. But the best performer of the category, by far, was the colorful Marx musical duo known as Spic and Span, which soared to $4,125. “I’m sure it was the box that drew the extra money on that toy,” Inman observed. “I have never seen that box before. It’s one of only a handful that are known.”
Inman Auctions will be holding a specialty cookie jar auction sometime this summer, with a follow-up session of holiday-themed jars in a November sale. Between the two events, a total of 4,500 cookie jars and salt and pepper shakers ranging in value from $25 to more than $5,000 will be cataloged.
Inman’s Sept. 23-25 auction will feature the premier John and Wendy Johnston collection of rare coin-op, penny arcade and mechanical music machines and gambling devices. Also coming from the Johnston collection is a huge array of antique advertising including Coca-Cola trays and signs; 50 jukeboxes and soda fountain syrup dispensers.
“The Johnstons have been dealers in Brooklyn, N.Y., for 35 or 40 years,” Inman said. “From the very beginning, they were always very smart in their collecting. Whenever they ran across something great, rare and early, it went into their house and never came out.” The September sale also will feature a large collection of movie posters obtained from a single theater.
Photographs of selections from the September inventory were displayed at Inman’s booth at Atlantique City in March. “The response was outstanding. I’ll bet I added 100 names to my mailing list just as a result of having those items on view.”
American National Packard - This 29in pressed-steel American National Packard in rare colors is missing its hood ornament, but that didn’t affect its ability to pull in $17,600 against a $10,000-15,000 estimate.
Buddy ‘L’ Tugboat - Retaining its original decals and striping, this seldom-seen 29in Buddy ‘L’ pressed-steel tugboat was right on course, dropping its anchor at $14,300.