NEW HOPE, Pa. – Noel Barrett has spent the last several months preparing for his May 1-2 auction, comprised of 1,200 choice lots of early toys and other compatible categories of antiques, led by the Americana and advertising collection of the late Gordon Stark of Kansas City. Other important highlights include the Japanese boat and car collection of the late William F. “Bill” Weart, selected toys from the Kathy and Athel Spilhaus collection, and a diverse array of other select consignments from various individuals.
“What I like so much about this sale is that it includes an extremely wide variety of material. There isn’t an overwhelming amount of any one thing,” said auction house owner and Antiques Roadshow appraiser Noel Barrett. “Originally this was going to be a mixed toy sale till the Stark collection came along. Also, because I didn’t have a fall sale in 2009, I was able to be a little more selective about what to include in this sale. The result is a visually exciting mix that will appeal to a diverse cross-section of collectors.”
The keynote Gordon Stark collection encompasses many forms of early advertising – colorfully lithographed tin signs and trays, three-dimensional figures, fixtures and trade signs. “Gordon Stark was a revered, old-time collector of Americana and advertising, and it is his lifetime collection that we are selling,” Barrett noted. “It is quite obvious that he viewed each of the objects in his collection as art.”
Within the Stark collection are two exceptional cigar store figures – one depicting an Indian maiden in a feathered headdress holding a bundle of cigars, and the other, a very unusual, small-scale bearded gentleman wearing a beret, jacket with waistcoat, shirt and tie; knee-length breeches and stockings. The beautifully patinated figure holds a bundle of cigars in his left hand and has his right hand posed as though it could actually grip a cigar. Other figures replicating people include an articulated, wax-head department store mannequin of a mustachioed gentleman in 1890s-style waistcoat and underpinnings, and wearing button-style shoes.
Those who like trade signs or antiques with a medical/pharmaceutical theme will find the colorfully red and blue-studded mortar and pestle hard to resist. Flange signs include a delightful Quick Meal Ranges figural “hand” holding an egg with a newly hatched runaway chick; and an eye-popping example advertising Pennsylvania Non-Skip Bicycle Tires that features a cyclist at the helm of his bike, in hunched-forward mode.
From the Bill Weart collection comes an outstanding selection of brightly hued Japanese tin boats and cars. “Bill was a perfectionist in everything he did, and because he was also a top Ford Motor Company designer, he was always drawn to toy autos in pristine condition,” said Barrett. “While his main collecting focus was on cast iron, he also appreciated the realistic tinplate models made in the 1950s by Japanese makers like Marusan, Kosuge and Yonezawa. He had some very desirable examples, and many of them have their original boxes.”
Highlights from the Weart collection include a1956 Linemar Lincoln Continental and a red and black Alps sedan, as well as boxed examples of a Marusan Cadillac, Yonezawa Lincoln Electro Special, and “Million Bus.”
The sale inventory is brimming with tin vehicles from other consignors and includes a scarce Auto-Polo car made by Jellus, a scrupulously detailed 1930s-era showroom model of a 24-inch-long Fiat Roadster, a JEP Rolls-Royce and a near-mint deluxe Carette limousine.
An unexpected call from the Morris Museum in Morristown, N.J., led to a treasure hunt through the institution’s archives. “What a thrill that was, being able to ‘pick’ the attic,” Barrett said. Among the discoveries that became consignments to the May sale were a Marklin/Lutz carriage, a Hubley oversize fire pumper, a Marklin (train) double tunnel, and an incredible political item: a red, white and blue campaign rattler touting the 1892 Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates Benjamin Harrison and Whitelaw Reid. “What makes this piece especially interesting is that it was made by J. A. Crandall, a famous American toy manufacturer of that period,” Barrett said.
The magical Marklin name will once again take center stage at Barrett’s May sale. Top pieces from the premier German manufacturer include an extremely rare gauge-1 passenger set with red locomotive that was made only briefly for FAO Schwarz, a very rare and desirable O-gauge Grand Central Station, and a coveted ticket display rack displaying American rather than German destinations.
Other treasures include a Hubley Sirius airplane, a unique pre-Darrow Monopoly set that was actually used as an exhibit in a court case to establish who had invented the game, a deluxe troupe of talented European automata, cast-iron toys and banks, European clockwork toys, a Steiff Felix the Cat Irish Mail toy, and a Freihofer’s delivery wagon – probably the rarest and most desirable of Schoenhut’s delivery wagon series.
Noel Barrett’s Spring 2010 Antique Toys, Americana & Advertising Auction will be held May 1-2, at the Eagle Fire Co. Hall, 46 N. Sugan Road, New Hope, PA 18938. All forms of bidding will be available, including absentee, phone, fax or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com. The electronic catalog may be viewed online at www.liveauctioneers.com approximately two weeks before the sale.
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