DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. – Pook & Pook and veteran toy auctioneer Noel Barrett are partnering on another terrific toy auction, this time a big two-day event on Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1. Most of the 850 lots cataloged for this top-notch sale are from two advanced collections: the Stephen Sachs collection of cast-iron toys and banks, and the Eberhard Luethke collection of steam and hot air engines, accessories and live-steam toys and trains. The event will take place at Pook & Pook’s Downingtown gallery in suburban Philadelphia, with all forms of bidding including absentee and live online through Bidsquare and LiveAuctioneers.
Bidders should prepare for a steamy opening session as a parade of rare steam engines and models from the Eberhard Luethke collection crosses the auction block. A lineup of especially desirable steam plants is already attracting pre-sale interest. “Steam plants operate by means of live steam with flywheels that supply power to a wide variety of accessories. This added to play value while also teaching children of 19th and early 20th centuries the basics of steam-engine technology,” Noel Barrett explained.
The most desirable steam plants in the sale include two productions by Germany’s premier toy manufacturer, Marklin. The company’s #4124/14 hammer steam plant with vertical boiler is estimated at $8,000-$10,000, while a Marklin steam plant with a marine-style engine is expected to make $10,000-$12,000. There are many other rarities by Marklin and its period counterparts, including Doll et Cie., Bing, Falk, Radiguet, Carette, and others.
Another subcategory in the steam section consists of models handmade by scientifically minded craftsmen. Beautifully executed with no small detail overlooked, the models are fully functional works of industrial art. Leading this group, an elaborate brass steam engine with an intricately detailed copper boiler even retains its original carrying case. Estimate: $5,000-$8,000
Although he loved every piece in his collection, Eberhard Luethke was especially proud of The Magnet, an English live-steam locomotive with a double-cylinder engine. The front boilerplate of this handsome production is engraved “R. Ockelford 1850.” Estimate: $8,000-$10,000. A brass, scale-model live-steam fire pumper boasts exceptional detail and is entered with a $2,000-$3,000 estimate. There is also a selection of hot air engines, primarily by Ernst Plank. While they may not be as valuable as their steam counterparts, they have a dedicated following among toy collectors.
A penny will go a long way at the auction preview, where an imposing array of cast-iron mechanical and still banks will be waiting to perform their actions, but it will take considerably more to take home any of the ingeniously designed money boxes. Three of the most coveted examples offered were manufactured by the revered Philadelphia toy company Kyser & Rex. They are: an 1890 Coin Registering Bank, $4,000-$6,000; Boy Stealing Watermelon, $3,000-$5,000; and Globe Savings Bank, $3,000-$5,000. Connecticut toymaker J. & E Stevens is also well represented with such highlights as a Home mechanical bank, and Boy Scout Camp, each estimated at $2,000-$3,000.
Of the cast-iron horse-drawn toys to be auctioned, highlights include an impressive Ives 26-inch-long hose reel with driver and standing fireman, $800-$1,200; and a 17-inch Pratt & Letchworth dray wagon with driver, $1,000-$1,200.
Dollhouse collectors will want to back up the moving truck to take advantage of the fantastic selection of Arcade and Hubley cast-iron scale-model furniture and miniatures in the sale. More than 40 lots have been cataloged, including suites, affinity groupings, and individual furnishings. There are kitchen appliances, like Maytag wringer washers, old-fashioned stoves and early refrigerators; plus bedroom, bathroom and kitchen sets; accessories, and figures of both people and animals.
The Saturday session contains more than 450 lots of cast-iron vehicles and other toys, all from the Stephen Sachs collection. There are airplanes, buses, taxis, motorcycles, Arcade moving vans and Vindex farm, construction and delivery toys.
A classic Hubley Indian “Say It With Flowers” three-wheel delivery motorcycle retains excellent-condition “Indian” and floral-bouquet decals. Rare and desirable, it could reach a winning bid of $18,000-$25,000. Also by Hubley, a Harley-Davidson hillclimber motorcycle with a driver wearing an embossed “Harley-Davidson” jacket is estimated at $4,000-$6,000.
The sale includes examples of two of the most appealing Hubley pull toys ever made: the wave-riding Surfer Boy with a tank top emblazoned “Beach Patrol,” $3,000-$5,000; and the extremely scarce Penn Yan speedboat with driver and four passengers. Produced for only a short period of time due to licensing issues with the Penn Yan Boat Co., the 14-inch-long toy commands a pre-sale estimate of $5,000-$8,000. Hubley’s animated cast-iron pull toy depicting the Old Dutch Cleanser woman and the cleaning product’s slogan carries a $5,000-$8,000 estimate, while a heavy duty Elgin street sweeper with driver and realistic detailing is likely to bring $1,500-$2,000.
The highest-estimated automotive toy is a red Hubley No. 18 boat-tail racer with white rubber wheels, a painted driver and headlight. Measuring 7 inches long, this snappy-looking, one-of-a-kind racer comes with distinguished provenance that includes the Bob Brady and Dick Ford collections. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000.
Bids could take flight when the auction hangar is opened and more than three dozen cast-iron aeronautical toys are cleared for takeoff. Among the anticipated top lots in the group are a rare Dent Question Mark tri-motor plane with US Army Air Force C2A stamped under the wing, $5,000-$6,000; and an elusive Vindex 8¼-inch wingspan Fokker airplane, ex Donald Kaufman collection, $3,000-$5,000.
Vindex is a brand that cast-iron collectors crave. There are many outstanding pieces from which to choose in the second session. Tops among the farm toys is a 12-inch-long Case combine estimated at $1,500-$2,000. Other noteworthy Vindex entries include depictions of a Van Brunt seed drill, John Deere thresher and Case hayloader with decal.
Arcade is another sought-after brand among cast-iron toy buffs. The auction includes two standouts: a White Merchants Transfer & Storage Company moving van, ex Donald Kaufman collection, $3,000-$4,000; and a White dump truck with nickel-plated driver figure, shovel and axe, ex Bob Brady collection. It is estimated at $2,000-$3,000.
The March 31-April 1, 2017 Iron & Steam Toys Auction at the Pook & Pook gallery in Downingtown, Pa., will start at 10 a.m. ET on both days. Preview from 10-4 Mon.-Thurs. during the week prior to the auction, and for 8-10 a.m. on auction days. Bid live online through Bidsquare or LiveAuctioneers. For additional information call 610-269-4040 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.