As the summer months slowly approach, it’s time to put away the school books and bring out the toys. Downingtown-based auction house Pook & Pook is pleased to announce its latest Antique Toy Auction in collaboration with Noel Barrett, the colorful ponytailed antique toy expert of Antiques Roadshow fame. The auction kicks off on Saturday, June 15th at 10am and will present hundreds of exciting toys and unique offerings from a number of collections.
The highlight of the June sale will be part two of the Morton A. Hirschberg Collection, of fascinating, vibrant, and kinetic steam toys, the first group having been sold in Pook’s December 2018 sale. A former president of the Antique Toy Collectors of America, Mr. Hirschberg is also the author of the definitive book on the subject: Steam Toys: A Symphony in Motion (Schiffer, 1996). Steam toys, often referred to as steam engine accessory toys are designed to be operated by drive wheels attached to stationary steam engines but can also be operated by hand. As a collector since the 1980’s, the variety in Mr. Hirschberg’s collection is astounding and includes wind and lumber mills, lighthouses and other forms of machinery. An excerpt from Mr. Hirschberg’s book articulates his decades-long passion, “Steam toys from the late 19th and early 20th centuries occupy a special niche in the world of antique toys. But steam toys are appreciated in their own right, as ingenious inventions and charming contraptions! Hooked to a steam engine or operated by hand, these pieces move - mills grind, blacksmiths hammer, Ferris wheels and carousels revolve, woodsmen chop, and minstrels dance. They can be delightfully intricate, colorful, and creative.” All told, more than 130 lots of Mr. Hirschberg’s steam toys will be sold. Some top lots from this offering include a painted tin airship carousel steam toy accessory, with provenance from the Atlanta Toy Museum ($2,000-$3,000), a scarce Bing cotton mill steam toy accessory ($2,000-$3,000), and a Carette tin lithograph factory steam toy accessory, with five factory workers ($2,000-$3,000).
A few last minute additions to the sale are consignments from the estate of a private collector. One exciting item is an extraordinary English butcher shop diorama in intricate detail, with two carved and painted butchers wearing aprons, rows of meticulously painted carcasses and various cuts of meat, all arrayed in a painted brick façade with potted plants ($3,000-$5,000). A good portion of this consignment is comprised of tin lithographed penny toys, more than seventy-five in total, featuring everything from trains, to animals, to people at work and play. One special example is a scarce Meier animated tin lithograph Punch & Judy penny toy ($1,200-$1,600). Other small antique toys include a group of approximately forty figural pencil sharpeners, to include two Bakelite tanks, Felix the Cat, a Coca-Cola bottle, cars, airplanes, Uncle Sam, the Empire State building, and many other iconic figures. Other miscellaneous toys from this collection include a D. S. Cohen clockwork Autoperipatetikos Walking Doll, in the original box and with her original outfit ($800-$1,200), a collection of figural animated whistles, and a grouping of advertising toys.
Another impressive grouping in Pook’s June auction are pieces from The Bill & Stevie Weart Collection. Items include a number of exceptional cast iron vehicles, fire pumpers and patrol wagons, along with horse drawn wagons and drays. Among the highlights of the Weart Collection is a remarkable Carpenter cast iron floor train, with provenance from the Hegarty Collection ($1,200-$1,600), and an Ives cast iron Phoenix fire pumper, with the original labeled pine shipping box ($1,200-$1,600).
More consignments from lifelong antique toy enthusiasts include a variety of American tin toys: horse-drawn and early trains. Pieces of note include a scarce Carlisle & Finch Buffalo train ticket office ($1,500-$2,500), a Carlisle & Finch five-piece freight train set, 2" gauge ($1,200-$1,600), a Carette tinplate clockwork limousine ($1,000-$1,500), and a Hull & Stafford painted American tin clockwork horse with gig pull toy ($500-$700).
Not toys but truly toy-like is a group of agricultural salesman samples from a Florida estate. Of note is a spectacular example of an Adriance Buckeye sickle mower, identified by raised lettering on the cast metal gear box ($4,000-$6,000). Other salesman samples include a C.M. Clinton horse drawn hay rake ($3,000-$4,000), an excellent W.H. Hathaway buckboard wagon, and a horse-drawn road roller ($1,500-$2,500). This consignment also includes a grouping of traction engine models, including an impressive 36” long 1912 Case tractor, with wood bunkers ($8,000-$12,000).
By Pook & Pook, Inc. With Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions LTD
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