LEBANON, Ind. – It didn’t take long for toy collectors to discover Carter’s Toy Museum after it opened in 2005. A wonderland of antique playthings and amusements, it was housed in a handsome, historic-looking brick structure in the upscale Indianapolis suburb of Zionsville. For six years, visitors flocked to the popular tourist destination to enjoy its cheery, carnival-like atmosphere, which included a 2/3-scale carousel, 50 completely restored coin-op kiddy rides and a 20 x 20 ft vintage bumper-car track.
Sadly, the museum closed after six years of operation when its owner, the respected Zionsville developer and businessman Robert P. Carter, passed away on Aug. 9 of last year. While the toy museum is now a memory woven into Indiana’s rich history, a new chapter awaits the physical building and its contents. On Friday and Saturday, Oct. 5 and 6, 2012, Morphy Auctions of Denver, Pa., will sell the museum building and all of its contents in a live auction at the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds in Lebanon, Indiana. There will be no phone or Internet bidding, and all museum contents will be offered without reserve.
Carter’s Toy Museum was known for its dizzying variety of toys of all types. Robert Carter was an inveterate buyer who rarely missed an auction or toy show in the Midwest. As a result, Carter’s museum had a wonderfully eclectic look. Its walls, shelves and showcases were packed with colorful wind-up toys, pedal cars, pressed-steel vehicles, railroadiana, BB guns and Western toys.
The auction lineup reveals more than 200 pressed-steel trucks from manufacturers such as Buddy ‘L’ and Keystone; 200+ pedal cars, 150 train lots and 250 character toy lots, including classic pieces by Marx, Linemar and Lehmann. A selection of mechanical and still banks; marbles, costumes and toy soldiers will be offered, as well as dolls and desirable doll accessories, many of European manufacture.
Carter’s Toy Museum was the venue of choice for countless birthday parties, and the star attraction was always the 20ft carousel. One of only three carousels of its type to be manufactured in 1946, it features 16 hand-painted figures, including horses, rabbits, dogs, pigs, etc. The auction also features a number of original carousel figures crafted by premier carvers like Dentzel and Parker.
Another popular party ride was the two-car bumper car platform. Like the carousel, it is fully functional and ready for fun.
More than 50 coin-operated machines will be auctioned, including a ride-on camel, elephant, rocket ship and racecars. Other coin-op rides represent Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Following in that theme, the sale will feature many life-size limited-edition figures that stood watch in the museum, including depictions of Superman and many Disney favorites; alongside a life-size “talking” tree.
Another grouping of coin-operated machines includes two nickelodeons, a “Bull” strength tester, Ms Pac-Man and a circa-1900 animated newspaper boy. “This collection contains a very significant grouping of coin ops,” said Morphy Auctions CEO Dan Morphy. “The timeline spans much of the 20th century. Collectors are going to be very impressed by the variety.”
Robert Carter also had a fascination for “hit-and-miss” engines, a type of four-stroke internal combustion flywheel engine whose production period was the 1890s through approximately the 1940s. His collection includes models made by New Way, Economy, Root & Vandervoort, Leader, Duplex, Jaeger, Kewanee Sta-Rite, Waterloo Boy and others.
A fine fleet of real-life antique vehicles is led by a 1929 Ford Model A, 1927 Buick, 1928 Oakland and a 1936 Ford truck. Additionally, a Wizard motorbike, Cushman scooter and 1959 surrey will cross the auction block.
The sale roster also includes more than 50 glass display cases and the component parts of the fully functional ice cream parlor that was a major and always-busy attraction at the museum. All ice cream parlor equipment will be sold individually. Morphy noted that many of the commercial-grade stainless steel appliances are expensive name brands.
About the Museum Building:
The museum building itself is located at 91 S. Main Street in the picturesque downtown district of Zionsville, Indiana. With its paved-brick streets, old-fashioned street lamps and a low speed limit that encourages foot traffic and browsing, Zionsville is typically described by visitors as having a “village-like” atmosphere.
“It’s the kind of place where you’d expect to see community picnics, fireworks shows and band concerts at the gazebo. There are very few towns like it in America,” said Morphy’s real estate auctioneer Dave Stewart.
The beautifully detailed brick museum building was purpose-built by Robert Carter to simulate a 19th-century design that would fit in with other local architecture. No stone was left unturned in rendering an antique appearance to either its quaint façade or “turn of the century” interior, from the eyebrow windows and walkout second-floor porch to the stamped-tin ceilings, raised-panel oak walls and leaded-glass windows.
The 13,800-square-foot property has two handicapped-accessible entrances, a three-car garage and 8 to10 additional parking places. The ceilings measure 11 feet on the first floor and 12 feet on the second floor. There are 10 bathrooms, seven zones for natural gas heating/cooling, fire sprinkler, alarm and security systems; and a first-floor one-bedroom apartment with hardwood floors, fireplace and eat-in kitchen with new appliances. The building has many other high-quality features, such as a natural gas back-up generator.
Numerous color pictures and a complete description of the property may be viewed at http://www.morphyauctions.com/real-estate/home. A real estate open house will be held at the museum on Saturday, Sept. 15, from 10 a.m. till 3 p.m. The museum building will be sold at noon during the Oct. 6 session at the fairgrounds. Sale is subject to the seller’s acceptance of bid.
Both the Oct. 5 and Oct. 6 auction sessions will begin at 9 a.m. Eastern Time and will be held at the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds, exit 138 of I-65 in Lebanon, Indiana. The Friday, Oct. 5 session will include most of the toys and other smaller items from the museum’s collection. The Saturday, Oct. 6 session will include the motor vehicles, hit-and-miss engines, ice cream parlor items and other larger-size pieces. All lots purchased on Friday and on Saturday morning must be removed from the fairgrounds no later than noon on Sunday, Oct. 7.
After the Saturday 12 noon auction of the museum building, Morphy’s will offer via slideshow approximately 150 of the museum’s larger items, which, due to their size and/or weight, will remain at the museum premises. Bidders will be able to follow the slideshow with a descriptive running sheet. Those who are successful in purchasing any of the larger slideshow items may contact the museum’s caretaker to arrange for a mutually convenient pick-up time.
The fairgrounds preview will be held from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4; and from 7-9 a.m. on both auction days. For additional information about any item in the collection, contact Morphy Auctions by calling 717-335-3435 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Inquiries regarding the real estate portion of the auction may be directed to Dave Stewart by calling 570-656-5705 or e-mailing email@example.com. Visit Morphy Auctions online at www.morphyauctions.com.