VINELAND, N.J. – The late Donal Markey was one of an elite circle of illuminati who bought and sold the rare antique toys 25 years ago that are now considered masterworks of their category. Markey’s own immaculate personal collection of antique toys, folk art, and mechanical and still banks is now headed to auction in a March 25-26 sale organized by Bertoia’s, the firm his old friend the late Bill Bertoia co-founded. More than 1,000 lots will be presented in the two-day auction.
The common thread in all of Markey’s collections was color, especially reds, various shades of green, and yellow. Multicolored pieces were his favorite. “Every item Donal bought was for display. He lived with all of it in his home, and the cardinal rule was that it had to have color and visual appeal, whether it was a clock, a whirligig or a framed mirror – and the condition had to be as close to perfection as possible,” Bertoia said.
Markey also favored pieces with a folk art quality. His collection includes such highlights as a cabinet and small 4-drawer chest with carved floral and botanical designs; tramp art picture frames and mirrors with delicately carved floral corners, amusement wheels, trade signs and hand-painted sleds with exquisite images of pelicans and other birds. A desirable horse theme typical of early folk art is seen on Markey’s early, decorative wall shelves and other pieces.
Also among the folk art highlights is a framed, carved-wood die-cut of a hand holding a placard that says “Made by J.P. Brown, Invalid.” Its decorations include butterflies, a dog, and a cat blowing a horn. Another unique article is the early hand-painted ballot box with four candidates’ names and slots for depositing ballots. Probably late 19th century, the ballot box is an exceptional work of art whose detailing is of a very high standard.
Before he became a full-time antique dealer, Markey was a menswear retailer in New York. Many of the old painted-wood advertising signs in his collection are an homage to his previous profession and publicize clothing, shoes and other products aimed at 19th-century men, e.g., cigars and other tobacco products. An imposing highlight is a 6 1/2-foot-long, double-sided sign that says “Positively No Smoking.” Originally displayed in a train station, the sign features bright, eye-catching “Donal” colors.
Donal Markey’s name was always closely associated with mechanical banks. Bertoia’s will present approximately three dozen examples in the auction, even including a few banks that Markey was in the process of buying or had committed to buy at the time he fell ill last year. “Condition wise, they’re so beautiful, they look like their paint is still wet from the production line,” Bertoia remarked. Highlights include a superb yellow-dress version Mammy with Child, old store-stock Elephant banks in super-mint condition, and an “unbelievable” example of an Uncle Sam bust bank.
For additional information, call 856-692-1881 or e-mail Toys@BertoiaAuctions.com. Visit Bertoia’s online at www.BertoiaAuctions.com. All forms of bidding will be available for Bertoia’s March 25-26 auction, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com.
Editor’s Pick – New Release
Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2012 by Mark F. Moran
As the longest-running guide and the most trusted name in antiques and collectibles, the 45th Edition of Wamran’s Antiques & Collectibles features more than 1,500 color images and 6,000 listings. It brings a fresh, 21st-century perspective that honestly assesses the market and looks at the best categories for investment–everything from glassware and toys to early flags and maps. "Future of the Market" reports share what’s hot, and where the experts are putting their money.
Top names in the trade weigh in on key categories:
- Writer Andrew Myers looks at 18th- and 19th-century French furniture
- Toy expert Andrew Truman shares insights on "Door of Hope" dolls
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- Collector Forrest Poston looks at the market for West German art pottery
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