TIMONIUM, Md. – RSL Auction Co. will conduct its Bountiful Harvest sale featuring approximately 500 lots of antique toys and banks on Oct. 17, 2009, at Richard Opfer’s auction gallery in the Baltimore suburb of Timonium. A multiple-consignor offering of top-tier pieces hand-picked from seasoned collections, the traditional auction event will feature a full complement of remote-bidding options, including phone, absentee, fax, e-mail and live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com.
“This is a good-looking sale,” said RSL partner Ray Haradin, a long-time specialist collector of mechanical banks and American toys. “Rather than having a mega-sale of a single collection that runs the gamut from low end to high end, we took a small grouping of particularly nice pieces from each of six very particular collectors. Together, it makes a great selection.”
The auction consists of seven basic categories: European tinplate wind-ups, tinplate autos, American tin/clockwork toys, American cast-iron bell toys, cast-iron horse-drawn toys, mechanical banks and still banks.
Highlights in the European section include eight Lehmanns, with top lots being a pink-version Li-La, $1,200-$1,800; a Paddy & the Pig, Onkel, Daredevil, and a boxed, near-mint Motor Coach, $900-$1,200. Martins include a Delivery Boy, Drunkard, and Bear. A standout lot within the European tin is the Buster Brown and Tige with lamppost toy in beautiful condition, estimated at $4,500-$6,500.
Twenty lots of penny toys will be available. Bonzo on a platform, a clockwork limo, a very nice transfer wagon, and clowns tossing a ball (estimate $700-$1,000) lead the category.
European autos include an 11-inch-long Ebo limousine with driver, finished in bright, fancy colors and made in Germany around 1920. It could realize $3,500-$5,500 on auction day. Another fine German-made car is the Distler saloon, which also carries a $3,500-$5,500 estimate.
Approximately 20 American clockwork tin toys will be offered, including an Ives bareback circus rider on horse, estimate $8,000-$12,000; and a spectacular Althof Bergmann carousel, estimate $7,000-$10,000.
A parade of 20 American bell toys is led by a variant of Gong Bell’s See-Saw toy. “Gong Bell made a See-Saw toy of a boy and girl with a central bell in a cast-iron shield. This one is the rarely seen variation with a lead eagle between the boy and girl,” said Haradin. It is expected to make $3,500-$5,500 at auction.
Two near-mint Hubley Royal Circus toys, including a coveted Calliope (estimate $12,000-$18,000), will be auctioned, both with their original boxes. Also in the cast-iron section are a few Hubley airplanes – most notably the America and Friendship models – and four extremely desirable blinking-eye clocks, including examples of the Lion, Topsy, and the Banjo Player.
Ten early friction toys made during the period 1911-1925 include manufacturers’ names such as Clark and Dayton Friction. “The most interesting piece is a 28-inch-long Converse Dewey loco and tender 999,” said Haradin. “It replicates the first train to exceed 100 miles per hour, which happened around 1910.” The toy is estimated at $600-$900.
Among the top entries in the mechanical bank section is a Kenton Hardware Mama Katzenjammer Bank that is widely considered to be the best extant example. “It’s one of the two best, for sure,” said Haradin. Formerly in the Bob Brady collection, it carries a presale estimate of $40,000-$60,000.
Another important mechanical bank, also ex Bob Brady collection, is a Shepard Hardware Picture Gallery bank, estimated at $35,000-$55,000. A very rare Prussian Marksman “shooting” bank of either English or German manufacture comes with provenance through the John Haley collection. One of perhaps only three known examples, it will cross the auction block with hopes of achieving $25,000-$35,000.
Other mechanicals worthy of a shout-out include a boxed, near-mint Stevens Artillery bank, Union version with blue-jacketed soldier, estimate $6,500-$8,500; and a Judd Co. (Wallingford, Conn.) American Giant bank, one of about15 known examples and estimated at $15,000-$20,000.
Approximately 100 still banks have been consigned, including several coveted spelter banks. A 7-inch spelter Grandpa Cat with large pipe could smoke up a winning bid of $3,000-$5,000; while a Wheat Seller bank depicting a man in a top hat with a sheaf of wheat is estimated at $1,400-$1,800.
Leon Weiss, who is one of three partners in RSL Auction (the other two being Ray Haradin and Leon’s brother, Steven Weiss), explained the company’s philosophy: “We pride ourselves in the way we produce our sales. We’re not a clearinghouse. We’re very selective about what we sell, and we always try to make decisions that are in our consignors’ best interests. For instance, we originally intended to hold this auction in June, but because of the exceptional quality of the consignments, we elected to wait and let the economy start performing better. We knew that in the long run this would be better for our consignors. In retrospect, we think this was a wise decision, because the demand for high-end toys at auction has really heated up. Any hesitations that toy and bank buyers may have had didn’t last very long, and we think October will be prime time for toys.”
RSL’s Bountiful Harvest auction will take place on Oct. 17, 2009 at Richard Opfer’s auction gallery, 1919 Greenspring Dr., Timonium, MD 21093. The sale will commence at 11 a.m. A preview will be held on Oct. 15 from 2 to 7 p.m.; Oct. 16 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on auction day from 8 to 11 a.m. Complimentary lunch and soft drinks will be served at the auction.
Catalogs will be available one month prior to the sale. The cost is $30 postpaid for softcover and $55 for hardcover, to U.S. addresses. Add $10 for international shipment.
For information about any lot in the auction, call Ray Haradin at 412-343-8733; Leon Weiss at 917-991-7352, or Steven Weiss at 212-729-0011. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. View the fully illustrated electronic catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
Photos courtesy RSL Auction Co.