Morphy’s Nov. 30-Dec. 2 Toys & Collectibles Auction
Featured: Ultra-rare Electro Man robot, Antique American & European toys, marbles, Jim Challenger biscuit tin collection, complete 1951 Bowman baseball card set, collectible sneakers
DENVER, Pa. – Many lucky antique toy collectors will be enjoying their holiday gifts early this year, thanks to Morphy’s Nov. 30-Dec. 2 gallery auction of fine toys and popular collectibles. The 1,633-lot catalog reveals a fantastic selection that ranges from early American cast-iron, German tin toys, and a famous biscuit tin collection to a trove of rare 1952 baseball cards, boxed collectible sneakers, and one of the rarest of all Japanese robots. Distance will be no obstacle, since all forms of remote bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live.
Day 1 starts off with an array of more than 180 cast-iron mechanical banks including many favorites from J & E Stevens, such as a Dentist ($3,000-$5,000), a near-mint Artillery bank ($6,000-$9,000, a Bad Accident with its original wood box ($4,000-$6,000), Professor Pug Frog’s Great Bicycle Feat ($3,000-$5,000), and an Acrobat ($2,500-$3,500). The highest-estimated Stevens bank, at $8,000-$12,000, is a coveted Girl Skipping Rope. Owing to this fascinating bank’s intricate interior mechanism, a single coin drop generates a solid 12 spins of the rope.
An extremely rare Harper production known as the “Tommy” bank depicts a soldier lying low in the field with his weapon. Retaining a sticker from Sotheby’s 2000 auction of the legendary F.H. Griffith collection, it is estimated at $3,000-$5,000.
The session also features 44 antique cast-iron toys, led by a 28½-inch-long Carpenter Tally-Ho passenger coach. This spirited depiction of horse-drawn transportation of the past includes seven well-dressed hand-painted figures, one of them “blowing” a horn as though signaling the horses to depart. In professionally restored condition, this jaunty coach is expected to reach $8,000-$12,000 at auction.
Two fine German productions, although unmarked, show characteristics that are distinctly reminiscent of premium-brand toys of their era. An early-20th-century horse-drawn carriage, quite possibly by Marklin, is 19½ inches long and pulled by two painted-zinc horses with wheels beneath their hooves. The carriage itself displays flawless deep blue paint with yellow highlighting, and its doors open on both sides. Graded excellent to near-mint, its auction estimate is $4,000-$6,000. The second vehicle, perhaps by Rock & Graner, is an absolutely stunning hand-painted carriage with spoked wheels and a large lamp at its front. The appealing color palette includes scarlet, green and gold highlights on a cream and royal blue chassis. Its auction estimate is $4,000-$8,000.
German automotive tin toys include a top-of-the-line Karl Bub limousine with driver in the scarce 20-inch size. Made circa 1930s, and in excellent to near-mint condition, this stylish red-and-cream car comes to auction with a $3,000-$6,000 estimate. An even earlier vehicle, a rare Carette tin-litho windup cabriolet appears to be all original and complete. It has its driver and woman-passenger figures, a rear folding cabriolet roof, and a roof rack with two sets of side and front lamps. Measuring 13 inches long and an outstanding example of Carette artistry, it will likely sell for $3,000-$5,000.
A parade of coveted collectibles awaits on Day 2, starting with nearly 200 antique and vintage marbles. Rare swirls, onionskins, Lutzes, clambroths, sulphides and more will be lined up around the auction circle, and every one is a “keeper.” Topping the marble category is a very rare Akro Agate salesman’s sample box set containing Akro Agates, Specials, Prize Names, Akro Spirals, Glassies, Akro Aces, Onyxes, and Sparklers. In overall 9.3 condition, this fantastic set will be offered with a $6,000-$9,000 estimate.
What an opportunity collectors of vintage baseball cards will have when Lot 2471 steps up to the plate at Morphy’s. Fresh out of a house, it’s a complete 325-card set of 1951 Bowman baseball cards that includes 30 Hall of Famers and rookie cards for Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Nellie Fox, as well as Ted Williams’ last official Bowman card. The 1951 set is considered by many to be the best set Bowman ever produced. It will be auctioned as one lot together with 108 Bowman duplicates from the 1951 release, and 13 cards from Bowman’s 1950 series. Lot estimate: $15,000-$30,000
A very special grouping of 242 antique biscuit and candy tins comes from the collection of the late Jim Challenger (1925-1991), a Chicago entrepreneur who was a familiar presence at auctions on both sides of the Atlantic. Challenger’s biscuit tin collection, which he displayed at his spacious North Shore Chicago residence, was unrivaled in the hobby and known for its many rarities, including the most sought-after forms: those that replicate vehicles. The Challenger collection is replete with delivery vans, autos, racers, motorcycles, buses fire trucks, boats, trams, airplanes and more. Resembling toys, most of these tins were produced and liveried for British bakeries, but others are of French or Spanish origin. Additional forms include a castle, candy-vending machines, box camera, telephone, golf bag, books, plates and many other objects. A top highlight is a circa-1910 Hartwig & Vogel’s tinplate delivery truck candy tin, which is estimated at $5,000-$10,000.
Prime examples of one of today’s hottest collectible categories – sneakers – will stride across the auction block on Day 2 of Morphy’s sale. Approximately one dozen shoe lots will be offered, with each pair in its original box. Most have been Stock X-authenticated. An eye-catching pair of Air Force 1 / Off White “Lemonade” sneakers in university gold with black metallic and silver colorway comes from a very limited July 2021 release in Boston. Boxed, Stock X-authenticated and tough to find anywhere, they’re ready to fly with an estimate of $2,500-$3,500.
The third and final session of the three-day event promises more toys – including Disney and many other comic character favorites of tin or celluloid – plus vintage Halloween candy containers, Christmas collectibles, and robots. All eyes will be on a super-rare circa-1950s battery-operated tin-litho Electro Man robot which, remarkably, retains its vibrantly colorful original box. Marked “SY Made in Japan,” it is one of very few robots of its type known to exist and was previously owned by the pioneering robot collector F.H. Griffith, who died in 1999. His Electro Man was chosen to illustrate the cover of Sotheby’s catalog for the Dec. 9, 2000 auction of “Important Robots and Antique Toys from the Estate of F.H. Griffith.” Highly recognizable to robot and space toy collectors, the iconic Electro Man with Griffith provenance will now be offered by Morphy’s with a pre-sale estimate of $100,000-$150,000.
All three sessions of Morphy’s Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2021 Toy & General Collectibles Auction will take place at the company’s gallery, 2000 N. Reading Rd., Denver, PA 17517, starting at 9 a.m. Eastern Time. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live. Questions: call 877-968-8880; email firstname.lastname@example.org. Online: www.morphyauctions.com.