FAIRFIELD, Maine — Heirlooms and treasures offered from some of the finest collections and private homes in the country crossed the block, successfully closing out James D. Julia’s 2009 auction season.
This recent event featured a grand diversity of fresh-to-the-market, quality goods. Bidder confidence seemed to be on the rise again, suggesting an upturn in the economy. This auction, which included fine French and German dolls, desirable European and American toys, trains, coin-operated machinery, salesman samples, antique advertising items, and more hit over $600,000 against a low estimate of items sold of approximately $450,000.
Collectors were treated to a selection of fine French dolls including some exquisite examples from a Midwest collector. Seldom seeing the market was an outstanding 20-inch 200-series “Crying Jumeau.” This lifelike character with mouth agape and eyes wrung with ill humor went to a bidder in attendance for $37,375. From the same collection came two considerable 35-inch Jumeau 16’s with blue paperweight eyes that sold for $3,737 and $3,450 against their estimates of $2,000-$3,000 apiece. Not to be outdone, a slightly larger 41-inch Handwerck 79 whose catalog description indicated her size would allow one to travel in the commuter lanes brought $4,312 versus the same expectations of $2,000-$3,000. Unlike the typical elegance of the French bebe, SFBJ created the Poulbot character child, which was modeled after the poor orphans that wandered the streets of Paris in the early 20th century. Seldom offered, this all-original pitiable scamp changed hands at $3,220, more than doubling the low end of its $1,500-$2,500 estimate. And a 20-inch Steiner Fre A 13 bebe with exceptional modeling and finely painted facial features sold within her $2,500-$3,500 estimate for $3,162.
Other examples included a 19-inch French Schmitt bebe with pale bisque, deep blue paperweight eyes, and sublime expression. Wearing an antique burgundy dress, she changed hands at the upper end of her $9,500-$12,500 estimate for $12,075. Also included were several lovely examples by Leon Casimir Bru such as a 14-inch fully articulated wood body fashion. Having been tucked away in a private collection for many years and including a number of original outfits, she sold for $6,612 within expectations of $5,500-$7,500. The first lot of the day, a rare early 16-inch mechanical doll known as the “Nursing Bru” for her ability to suck liquid from a baby bottle, set the tone for a very energetic auction. The bids mounted, and despite a hairline crack in the shoulder plate, rarity overshadowed condition. When the hammer fell, so did the estimate of $3,000-$4,000 to a price of $4,887.
An American doll with great provenance was an outstanding Martha Chase stockinet doll depicting George Washington. Dressed in formal attire including his traditional Tricorne hat, this doll had been passed down three generations through the Chase family themselves. In exceptional condition, this doll sold for $4,600 within an estimate of $3,000-$5,000.
Other selections included a collection of Door of Hope dolls consigned by the family of the original owner, an American missionary who worked in China during the early 20th century. The popularity of these dolls remains strong and prices reflected this. Among the selection were a finely carved and elaborately dressed bride and groom; the pair sold for $4,025 versus an estimate of $2,000-$3,000. From the same collection was an early version of a Door of Hope policeman with mitt hands and unusual officer’s pillbox hat rather than the traditional conical paddy hat. He sold for $3,450 against expectations of $2,000-$3,000. A youth in bunting known as “Baby in Swaddling Clothes” whose facial expression differed from that usually found doubled its high estimate ($1,000-$1,500) to finish up at $3,220. And a charming Amah & Child depicting the loving grandmother carrying her swaddled grandchild on her back was a desirable pair bringing $2,760 against expectations of $1,500-$2,000.
Following the dolls was a selection of antique toys covering a wide variety of genres. German innovation has long been a favorite among collectors of antique toys. Among the most sought after was a very clever tin litho clown artist toy by Phillip Vielmetter. When affixed with one of several double cams, the seated clown actually draws pictures on the paper in front of him with a turn of a crank. This ingenious toy created between 1895 and 1905 sold for $2,530 above an estimate of $1,000-$2,000. A selection of fanciful Gunthermann hand painted tin toys included a bespectacled old gent affixed with angular wings on his shoulders and a clockwork propeller at his heels. He soared to $3,450 midway through its $2,000-$4,000 estimate. He was joined by a near mint example of a Lehmann Kadi (a.k.a. The Busy Coolies) with its original box and accessories; depicting two Chinese men carrying a tea caddy between them, the toy cruised past its estimate of $1,500-$2,500 to land at $4,312. A tin windup toy by Issamayer depicting a formally dressed waltzing couple that would dance about in twists and turns sold for $2,070 versus a $1,000-$1,500 estimate. On the non-mechanical toy side was a 10-inch blank button white Steiff bear that came from the caring family of its original owner. Appealing from head to toe, this charmer exceeded its $1,000-$2,000 estimate to sell for $3,335.
American toys added to the parade of playthings. Heading the list was an all-original Ives horse head perambulator. Fresh from a New England attic, this piece featured a figure with papier mache head and tin hands and feet, riding a wooden hand crank tricycle with cast iron wheels. This rare and desirable piece finished up at $8,050 against expectations of $7,000-$9,000. A realistic portrayal of a 1920s cabriole coupe by Kingsbury in exceptional condition exceeded its presale estimate of $1,000-$1,500, selling for $3,105. A huge Boucher live steam speedboat, believed to be the largest pond boat the New York company ever made, came fresh from an attic with an estimate of $1,500-$3,500 to cruise to $3,450.
Other American offerings included several fine Buddy L pressed steel toys, highlights of which included an outstanding 8-piece outdoor train set. Consisting of the engine, tender, tanker, gondola, cattle car, flatcar, caboose, and rare crane car, the set boasted overall great condition. It sold for $6,325 within a presale estimate of $5,500-$7,500. Likewise bringing $6,325, but nearly toppling its $3,500-$6,500 estimate was a Buddy L bus with solid construction, original decals, and steel side mount spares. A scarce Buddy L pump scooter three-wheeled ride-on toy exceeded its $2,000-$4,000 estimate to sell for $4,600.
In addition to the variety of toys was a grand selection of coin-op arcade, vending, and slot machines. The selection of slots included a variety of Watling Rol-a-Tops and the earlier Rol-a-Tor, which were two similarly styled machines, but with distinct differences. The 5-cent Rol-a-Top with nicely restored Bird of Paradise front joined the 5-cent Rol-a-Tor with the coin cornucopia front. They sold for $6,037 and $4,025, each exceeding their respective presale estimates. Another form of the Rol-a-Top with the cornucopia spilling a cascade of cherries down the front casting sold for $4,887 versus a $3,000-$4,000 estimate. And a Little Duke slot with ball gum vendor and penny denomination featured striking Art Deco design and an unusual reel arrangement sold within its $2,250-$3,250 estimate to bring $2,587.
Bidders for a scarce silver dollar slot Jennings Club Chief on its integral Art Deco stand knew an opportunity when they saw it. An in-house bidder helped bring the final selling price to $5,750 against a $3,500-$5,500 estimate. The following three lots completed the set of four Club Chief slots. However, the winner of the dollar machine got what he wanted and did not compete on the next three. As a result, they sold for $2,625, $2,250 and $2,250 against estimates of $3,000-$4,000 apiece.
Vending included a rare, nicely restored Whiffs of Fragrance perfume machine with four scent choices and great style. It sold for $9,200 against expectations of $5,000-$8,000. A selection of pulver chewing gum machines featuring the Yellow Kid highlighted a private collection centered on the comic character. Included here were two lesser-known versions of the gum vendors, a wood and oak case version and an ebonized wood, glass, and porcelain version. The first saw active bidding from the phone table, climbing to $12,075 (estimate $5,000-$10,000). The second quickly surpassed its $2,000-$3,000 estimate to bring $3,680.
Created by R.F. Outcault, the same man who first drew Buster Brown, the Yellow Kid character became a very popular mascot and merchandising tool for various products in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The collection included scarce figures, toys, trade cards, and pinback buttons. A lot consisting of a bevy of buttons from the High Admiral Cigarettes series sold for $1,150 against expectations of $800-$1,200 as did a similar lot of buttons that carried an estimate of $700-$900. A miscellaneous lot of Yellow Kid items including figural soaps and a scissor puppet brought $1,380 against an $800-$1,200 estimate.
Coin-op machines gave way to a selection of music machines. A Stella 14-inch disc playing music box with a carved mahogany case and barley molding around the top of the lid featured a storage drawer below. Fresh from an attic, it sold for $2,300, just above an estimate of $1,000-$2,000. A Mermod Ideal Soprano interchangeable cylinder box with extra cylinders brought $2,875 midway through its $2,500-$3,000 estimate. An Ideal Piccolo cylinder music box by Jacot & Sons in a carved oak case sold at the upper end of its $2,000-$3,000 estimate, bringing $2,702. And a restored Victor talking machine with carved oak case and fluted wooden horn exceeded its $1,000-$1,500 estimate to bring $2,300.
Miscellaneous items included a scarce Hoyt’s clockwork animated framed picture depicting a black man in country garb whose facial expression would slowly morph from simple and humble to a wide toothy grin while his eyes would appear to glance side to side. Almost hypnotic to watch, and certainly humorous, it found a buyer at $9,200 over its $4,000-$6,000 estimate. And a Western Union telegraph stock ticker with its original dome and wooden pedestal base went to a collector for $9,775 within an estimate of $8,000-$12,000.
The diversity of the sale continued with a selection of salesman samples. This sale contained some fresh-to-the-market pieces from a New England family. Included was a sample G.B. Gruman ice cutting machine with double flywheel and belt driven motor. Retaining its original paper label, it cut through its $1,000-$1,500 estimate to bring $7,130. From the same consignor was a group of five salesman samples that included a sausage stuffer, an ice cream maker, hand truck, plow, and washing machine. This sleeper lot crept up ever higher, past its $800-$1,200 estimate to settle at $4,600. An Adams Leaning Wheel road grader sample that, despite an early repaint, plowed through its $4,500-$6,500 estimate to bring $8,625. And a primitive looking salesman sample grain grinder surpassed expectations of $500-$800 to bring $1,035. An outstanding miniature glass showcase with German silver trim brought $3,162 against an estimate of $1,500-$2,000.
A miniature of a different kind was a scale model of the largest American made locomotive. Created by H.B. Fisher, and taking 12 years to complete, this live steam model’s detail was exceptional down to the smallest detail. Accompanied by the original blueprints to create this mammoth work of art, it easily topped its $3,000-$5,000 estimate to bring $10,350. Other trains included a Bassett-Lowke live steam engine and tender depicting the Royal Scot. Mounted within a custom display case and in near mint all-original condition, it neared the mid-estimate of $1,500-$2,500 to finish up at $1,955.
The segment was rounded out by a collection of HO trains, all of which came from one collector who felt he was ready for his trains to enjoy new homes, having enjoyed them for several decades. The collection contained examples from many of the world’s obscure and sought after makers including a lot of two near mint brass locomotives by Australian maker Beyer Garratt in their original boxes that sold for $1,725 versus an estimate of $500-$700. A lot of three Metrop crocodile locomotives with their original boxes brought $1,840 (estimate $700-$1,200). Italian makers Rivarossi were represented by a lot of HO passenger cars that sold above expectations of $600-$1,000 for $1,380. Also changing hands at $1,380 and doubling its estimate was a lot of two Korean made brass locomotives with original boxes. And a lot of six Hamo locomotives ignored a $200-$400 estimate to bring $1,150. Complementing the collection were several lots of original catalogs for Lionel, American Flyer, and Ives. A lot of 23 catalogs ranging from the 1920s to the 1940s sold for $2,070 and a lot of 21 catalogs from the same time period brought $1,265, each lot bringing above expectations of $400-$600 each.
The day was completed by advertising and country store items such as a Robeson straight razor countertop display case with a dozen celluloid handled razors in velvet lined compartments. The lot brought $2,587 against an estimate of $500-$750. Other advertising included a nicely restored Coca-Cola Vendo-81 that saw very active bidding beyond its $1,500-$2,000 estimate to the level of $3,162. A Kanotex gas globe that once graced the top of a roadside pump featured a highly sought after orange glass body with a ripple finish. Bids climbed beyond its estimate of $500-$1,000 to settle at $1,380. And a lot of 11 assorted Winchester cardboard window displays shot past its $500-$1,000 estimate to bag $1,725.
Julia’s upcoming auctions include their winter antiques and fine art auction in February while a firearms and military memorabilia auction will be held in March. Julia’s next toy and doll auction as well as their rare lamp and glass auction will follow in June. Julia’s is currently accepting consignments for these and other upcoming auctions.
For more information, consignment details or to place offers on unsold items, visit www.jamesdjulia.com or contact the James D. Julia offices at 207-453-7125. James D. Julia, Inc., P.O. Box 830, Dept. PR, Fairfield, ME 04937. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy James D. Julia.
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