Pook & Pook’s Downingtown, Pennsylvania auction gallery was buzzing on Saturday morning with many passionate toy collectors eager to take one last look at the 452 lots on offer. Pook’s Antique Toy Auction commenced at 10am on June 15th and was the latest in collaboration with the acclaimed antique toy expert Mr. Noel Barrett. The Pook & Barrett team enjoyed high interest in their summertime sale and their hard work earned a successful result. As the hammer fell on the last lot, the sale had achieved an accumulative value of $303,824. A large portion of the sales’ success was thanks to the tremendous interest of internet bidders. To encourage easy access for bidders, Pook & Barrett offered online bidding on two separate bidding platforms, including Bidsquare. Overall, 725 users were registered for the sale on the two bidding platforms. Offering online bidding turned out to be incredibly wise, as 65% of the sale was sold through cyberspace. Phone bidding, absentee bidding, and of course in-house bidding was also available to interested collectors. As is typical, the Antique Toy sale was diverse in its offerings, presenting various collections from across the country. Salesmen samples, Steiff Teddies, and steam toys were offered alongside cast iron fire pumpers, painted wooden boats, and exceptionally detailed dioramas.
Bidders who remember Pook and Barrett’s previous Antique Toy Auction in December will remember the exceptionally diverse offering of colorful and kinetic steam toys from The Morton Hirschberg Collection. Hirschberg is the man who literally wrote the book on steam toys: Steam Toys – A Symphony in Motion, 1996. Part two of Hirschberg’s collection kicked off Saturday’s sale, offering an additional 137 lots to likeminded collectors. Painted tin carousels, Ferris wheels, and flying dirigibles crossed the block alongside painted tin blacksmiths, cobblers, acrobatic poodles, musicians, windmills and lighthouses. A few pieces from the Hirschberg collection worthy of mention include the first lot of the sale, a painted tin airship carousel steam toy accessory ($1,342), a scarce Bing cotton mill steam toy accessory ($1,952), and a Bing painted and embossed tin windmill building steam toy accessory ($1,342).
A wonderfully whimsical collection of lithograph tin penny toys followed in sale, consigned from a Kentucky estate. The miniature animated toys are today worth much more than the pennies their original owners purchased them with. During preview on the morning of the sale, a group of interested collectors were enjoying the animated action of each tiny toy, sharing their amusement with other collectors and preview staff. A tin lithograph animated chicken cracking egg penny toy was a popular crowd favorite, with a smooth action and an egg that opened to reveal small chicks, it surpassed its $300-$400 estimate to sell for $732. A scarce Meier animated tin lithograph Punch & Judy penny toy in excellent condition and retaining its vibrant bright lithographed surface was the most popular penny toy of the day with a final hammer price of $1,830. Two Meier tin lithograph children at school desks penny toys also earned more than double their high estimate to land at $1,037.
Rolling up next in the sale was an excellent selection of salesman samples and live steam traction engine models. A massive live steam traction engine model of a 36 horsepower 1912 Case tractor from a Michigan estate earned the spot of top lot of the sale with a hammer price of $13,420, and will be rolling to its new home in Rhode Island. Directly following in sale was a similar 22” live steam traction engine model of a 1913 Burrell & Sons tractor selling for $10,980. Wrapping up the salesman sample selection was the impressive hammer price of $4,880 on an exceptional horse drawn Adriance Buckeye sickle mower.
Outstanding clockwork toys had bidders all wound up, with a French CIJ clockwork Alfa-Romeo race car earning fifteen bids before finally being hammered down at $6,100. The popular race car boasted provenance from the Collection of Bill and Stevie Weart and fantastic details such as operable steering, hand brake lever, and Pneu Michelin tires. Another popular item, the French Art Collection T35 Bugatti model race car rolled across the block shortly after. The hand-built car by master builder J.P. Fontenelle sped across the finish line to earn $3,660. Another noteworthy result was achieved on an E.T. Co. Japanese tin lithograph open wheel Indianapolis style race car, doubling its high estimate to be hammered down at $2,440.
As always, trains garnered much interest throughout the sale. An early French painted tin and wood Papin train locomotive, probably by Rossignol, more than quadrupled its high estimate of $400 with a winning bid of $2,074. A Buddy L pressed steel six-piece outdoor train set also exceeded its pre-sale high estimate of $1,600 to see a final hammer price of $2,440. A 19th century Althof Bergmann painted American tin clockwork Utah train locomotive followed in sale, seeing a frenzy of bidder activity with a total of twenty three bids placed before finally being hammered down for $1,464.
Cuddly teddies were a boon to June’s Antique Toy sale, with nearly 40 lots featuring provenance from the Estate of Raymond and Nadine Gravatt of Ravenwood Farm in Cream Ridge, New Jersey. A Steiff cinnamon mohair teddy bear, ca. 1910, with shoe button eyes, elongated limbs and hump saw a number of inquiries before the sale and doubled its high estimate to sell for $1,600. A large Steiff mohair teddy bear, ca. 1950's, wearing a 20th c. leather and brass heart collar was also a bidder favorite, earning $671. Steiff items without the New Jersey provenance were the Steiff Record mohair teddy bear, ca. 1915, on an Irish mail pull tool selling for $1,830 and the lovely smiling Steiff store display mohair camel, standing at an impressive 63” high, who is off to his new home in Connecticut to inspire the imagination of a new generation of children.
Some additional unusual items also had their day on the auction block, with a more than a few items seeing impressive results. A scarce E. Trask mechanical Salem Witch toy, inscribed Ford's Patent Nov. 26th, 1867, cast her spell on a lucky bidder to earn $3,416. A one-of-a-kind salesman sample butcher block, retaining its original decal, inscribed Wolf, Sayer & Heller - Chicago Butcher Supplies - Handsome Market Fixtures, the first ever seen by Pook & Pook appraisers, was hammered down for $3,172. An unusual silver plate cake counter display case, featuring an octagonal case with eight individual slide-out serving trays sold for $1,098. Antique German Halloween decorations remain as popular as ever; June’s auction saw a three-section folding die cut fire screen, featuring a witch, black cats, and a jack-o-lantern earn $1,342 and a set of three owl lithographed lamp shades earn $488.
Closing out the sale was an exciting collection of European room boxes and dioramas, many of which exceeded their high estimates. The exceptional European style butcher shop diorama was featured on the cover of the catalog, and boasted impressive painted details. The elaborate diorama contained two carved and painted butchers, butcher blocks, rows and rows of carcasses and various cuts of meat, and a painted brick façade with potted plants. The unique item crossed the block to exceed its high estimate of $5,000 and sell for $9,150. Another smaller butcher shop diorama, featuring a singular butcher and his pet cat gazing up at various cuts of meat, sold for $1,586.
Directly following Saturday’s sale was an Online Only Toy Auction on Monday, June 17th at 9am. The sale was a success with an accumulated value of $132,450.
As with Saturday’s sale, Monday’s auction saw a flurry of interest in dolls, trains, and clockwork toys. Some items of special note include the top lot of the day, a French bisque head doll with fixed eyes, closed mouth and jointed composition body, selling for nearly quadruple its high estimate at $3,438. A collection of painted tin dollhouse furniture took off, selling for ten times its high estimate at $2,000. Exceptional Schoenhut figures still demand high interest and high prices; a large 17” h. store display circus clown earned $2,000 and a Humpty Dumpty Circus tent with performers and animals, including a lions, zebras, an alligator and other various characters and accessories earned $1,500. One surprising result was on an Aero Art Russian painted metal miniature elephant with tigers, with painstakingly painted details featuring a fierce tiger attacking a distressed elephant, soaring past its $300 high estimate to sell at $1,563. Four NJ Custom brass HO scale train cars and locomotives, in their original boxes, was just one train lot of many in the sale to command high interest, with a sale price of $3,250.
By Pook & Pook Inc. With Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions LTD
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