DENVER, Pa. – A boxed Lavender Robot from Masudaya’s Gang of Five series will challenge an imposing Giant in Tower mechanical bank and several other coveted rarities for top-lot honors at Morphy’s June 22nd Toys, Trains & Soldiers Auction. The comprehensive 600-lot sale includes a wealth of desirable American, European and Japanese toys from the 19th through mid-20th centuries, with quality and condition being the common thread throughout.
The session will open with more than 140 antique occupational shaving mugs from the Ray and Theresa Jones collection. Ray Jones served in the U.S. Navy, and during his years of collecting he favored mugs that had a nautical theme. Among those in the auction with a marine motif are Lot 6, which features a fishing trawler; and Lot 6, which depicts a seafood wagon. Each is estimated at $1,000-$2,500. Yet another, Lot 95, is adorned with the photographic image of a paddle wheeler boat, est. $1,500-$2,500. Other highlights of the Jones collection include Lot 58, a baseball players mug, est. $1,000-$1,500; and Lot 117, an early wooden barber pole topped by an eagle, est. $1,000-$2,000.
Next up for bid will be 150+ cast-iron still and mechanical banks, the latter category including many fine examples from the Fenton Hord collection. “Mr. Hord was always a condition buyer. This will be quite obvious to bidders when they preview the banks in our sale. They’re really beautiful,” said Morphy Auctions CEO Dan Morphy.
Among the key mechanicals are Lot 231, a near-mint Professor Pug Frog; and Lot 270, a near-mint Boy Scout bank. Each is expected to make $10,000-$15,000 on auction day. Lot 267, a near-mint Atlas bank, could bring $6,000-$8,000; and Lot 186, a near-mint Magic bank, could conjure a winning bid of $5,000-$8,000. The star of category, however, may very well turn out to be Lot 187, a mint-condition John Harper Giant in Tower bank, which has a presale estimate of $15,000-$25,000.
Banks will be followed by a superb assortment of toys, including cast-iron and bell toys, boxed Marx toys, some automotive and Disney, and a robot that should keep the phones and Internet very busy: a boxed Masudaya “Non-Stop” or Lavender Robot. Entered as Lot 359, the large-scale, near-mint Japanese tin robot came to auction from the family of its original owner and is estimated at $6,000-$9,000.
The array of early American toys harbors many gems. There’s Lot 290, a cast-iron wheeled base with tin horse and dog figures – possibly by Stevens – which Morphy’s chief operating officer, Tommy Sage Jr., said he had never seen before in all his years in the antique toy business. “I’ve never even seen it in a book,” he said, adding: “With the toy hobby as well established as it is now, most toys have already been documented in one form or another, but occasionally a nice surprise will come along. This is one of them.” Estimate: $800-$1,200.
Cast-iron collectors can take their pick of several tempting highlights, like Lot 298, an Arcade 1933 World’s Fair “Century of Progress” tractor with trailer in scarce original box, est. $400-$800; Lot 194, a Hubley 4-seat brake with original figures, est. $4,000-$6,000; and Lot 300, an exceptionally clean Hubley Parcel Post motorcycle estimated at $2,000-$4,000. Another toy that isn’t seen very often is Champion’s cast-iron 3-window Airflow automobile. An excellent example is offered in Morphy’s sale as Lot 299, est. $600-$1,200.
A mid- to late-19th-century stenciled Studebaker goat wagon is entered with a $1,200-$1,800 estimate. “Before Studebaker made cars, they made wagons,” Sage explained. “I saw a picture in a book once that showed a life-size Studebaker wagon actually hooked up to a goat.”
Pressed steel automotive is led by Lot 369, a Buddy L Jr. series tank truck, est. $800-$1,200; while the top Disney toy, Lot 328, is a scarce variation of the Donald Duck Fire Truck. “The one in our sale is a 21-inch-long friction toy, and instead of Donald climbing up the fire ladder – as is the case with the more commonly seen battery-op version – Donald and one of his nephews are shown as metal figures tucked behind Pluto, who drives the truck,” Sage said. Est. $1,200-$1,800.
Two candy containers sweeten the auction offerings, including Lot 344, a composition Mama Katzenjammer and Kids. Only the second example Sage has ever seen (the other being in the renowned Gary Selmonsky collection auctioned by Morphy’s in 2005), it is estimated at $1,000-$3,000. Lot 387 is one of the rarest of all glass candy containers – a “Moving Pictures” Kaleidoscope with its original box. It is estimated at $4,000-$8,000, but Sage said he would not be surprised if it went higher.
A small but very nice collection of soldiers and approximately 15 related wind-up vehicles – primarily by Hausser (Elastolin), Lineol and Tipp Co. – have been consigned by a Philadelphia physician. The Elastolin soldiers include many of the obligatory World War II political figures that collectors seek, e.g., Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, etc. Among the vehicles is Lot 549, a Hitler Mercedes-Benz ‘Fuhrerwagen’ estimated at $1,200-$1,500.
Morphy’s railroad yard will be brimming with pre- and postwar toy trains on auction day. Most are by Lionel, either in O or standard gauge; and many are “odd variations or in rare colors,” Sage said.
“The trains are mostly from the collection of a longtime TCA (Train Collectors of America) member,” Sage said. “Many collectors look for obscure variations, like unconventional doors, deep-dish cranes, larger-than-normal door handles. There’s a lot of that sort of thing in this collection.”
Highlights include a scarce Lionel Jr. Streamline keywind set; Lot 446, a boxed Lionel girls’ set in pastel pink, with the original set box and individual boxes, etc. $1,500-$3,000; and Lot 442, a standard gauge Lionel No. 390 freight set with all boxes and train engine, est. $800-$1,200.
An exciting addition is Lot 447, a Lionel Jr. Streamline O gauge set in yellow and brown. “We’ve estimated it at $2,000-$4,000, but Greenberg’s [Lionel Trains Pocket Price Guide 1901-1913] says it’s too rare to price,” Sage said.
Morphy’s Saturday, June 22 auction of toys, trains, soldiers and banks, with a bonus selection of antique occupational shaving mugs, will commence at 9 a.m. Eastern Time. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live or Artfact.com.
Morphy Auctions is located at 2000 N. Reading Rd., Denver, PA 17517. For additional information on any item in the sale, to purchase a catalog, or to reserve a phone line, call 717-335-3435 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. View the fully illustrated catalog online at www.morphyauctions.com or www.artfact.com.