TIMONIUM, MD—Interest was keener than ever, and the bidding action was relentless in RSL Auction’s sale of antique toys and banks held May 22nd at Richard Opfer’s suburban Baltimore gallery.
“We started at noon and finished at 20 till three – it was about two hours and 40 minutes of very serious bidding,” said RSL co-owner Ray Haradin.
In all, the auction took in $1.8 million (all prices quoted include 21.5% buyer’s premium). “They came to buy; they didn’t want to sit there with an auctioneer trying to milk a few extra dollars out of them,” said Haradin. “When Rick [Opfer] is at the podium, you put your
hand up or you don’t get the toy.”
The featured attraction of the 360-lot sale was the Richard C. Stevens collection, a 24-year assemblage of cast-iron mechanical banks boasting superb conditions and with provenance reflecting several of the most prestigious collections of the past half-century.
Many auction records were broken, said Haradin – “more than I can remember, and in the heart of a recession, as well.” The top lot of the day was a circa-1905 J. & E. Stevens Calamity bank with rare chocolate-brown base. When activated, the football-theme cast-iron bank depicts two Yale players tackling a running fullback from Harvard. Formerly in the Stephen Steckbeck collection and in near-mint-plus condition with original box, the bank scored a mighty auction price at $78,975.
One of the rarest mechanical banks offered was a circa-1930 Kilgore Mfg. Co. Turtle bank. One of only nine examples known, the near-mint cast-iron amphibian could boast a background that included tenure in the Covert and Gertrude Hegarty, Stan Sax, and Dick Stevens collections. It finished near the top of its estimate range at $72,900.