YORK, Pa. – Pop culture has become the fine art of the boomer through millennial generations. Never before has competition been so intense to own top-notch examples of entertainment memorabilia, comic book art or other collectibles that document the last hundred years of American life. Hake’s – the company that launched the concept
of pop-culture auctions in 1967 – has long had the inside track on what collectors want. Their next big offering is Auction #212, a 2,600-lot selection of Americana and collectibles. Session one will close its bidding on July 15; session two on July 17. All bidding will take place online through hakes.com or by phone/absentee.
As Hake’s followers would know, the company has been entrusted with auctioning Disney character toys and collectibles from the estate of Maurice Sendak (1928-2012), the beloved children’s book author and illustrator best known for Where The Wild Things Are. Auction #212 includes Hake’s third selection of items from the Sendak estate, including three very rare Mickey Mouse club buttons made expressly for movie theaters to give to children. Ironically, those very same buttons passed through Ted Hake’s hands once before.
“Maurice was a good friend, and we had many dealings over the years,” said Hake. “An illustration he created for me in the late 1960s showing two of my favorite ‘Wild Things’ was part of a trade in which he received those three Mickey Mouse buttons. Now the buttons have come back to Hake’s, which we will pass on to a new generation of collectors.” Each has an estimate of $400-$1,000.
Two extremely rare German tinplate Mickey Mouse toys with direct Sendak provenance are featured in the auction. A 9-inch wind-up of a five-fingered Mickey, made around 1930 by Saalheimer & Strauss for the British market, includes a built-in key. When the key is wound, the toy waddles side to side and the character’s mouth widens to flash a toothy smile. One of very few known examples, its value is estimated at $20,000-$35,000.
A similar price is expected for Sendak’s Double Slate Dancers crank toy made by Wilhelm Krauss. The toy depicts a pair of smiling five-fingered Mickeys with loosely riveted arms and legs that render the illusion of dancing when the toy is activated. “Only two Double Slate Dancers are known to exist, and this marks the first time in our 47 years that Hake’s has ever been able to offer this elusive toy in one of our auctions,” said Hake.
An artist of immense talent and versatility, Maurice Sendak also realized the importance of perpetuating his body of work for future generations. Having suffered a heart attack at the age of 37, he realized the value of time – and his own mortality – early on. In the 1960s, he made arrangements for all of his future original book art to be conveyed to the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia. As a result, very little of his original art ever reached private hands, Hake said.
One highly important exception is a 26in by 31in (framed) watercolor that Sendak created for the 1982 TV adaptation of Prokofiev’s opera The Love For Three Oranges. A true masterpiece, the painting depicts a mountaintop castle likely inspired by Mad King Ludwig II’s breathtaking Bavarian castle Neuschwanstein. Guarding the entrance to the castle kitchen of witch Creonte is a monster cook in tall chef’s hat. Surrounding the castle are lofty mountain peaks, picturesque riverside valleys, and alpine trees and shrubbery executed in classic Sendak colors. The painting is actually seen in a DVD that was produced about the opera, and it has been part of Ted Hake’s personal collection since 1985, when Hake acquired the work directly from Sendak.
Because large Sendak works have not been publicly available, there are no close comparable examples against which a current auction value can be established. “One clue,” Hake explained, “resides in a long, thin watercolor, also an opera backdrop, that included one ‘Wild Thing’ image. Sendak donated the art to a charity auction about a decade ago. It realized $9,000 and later, in 2009, it was consigned to a national auction house where it brought $74,000. That is as close a guidepost as we have for a Sendak artwork this large,” said Hake.
In the comic art section, a top lot is the original Jack “King” Kirby (American, 1917-1994) comic book page art for the June 1963 issue of Marvel Comics’ Strange Tales #109. Human Torch appears in all seven panels, while Thing is seen in six. Also,
all members of the Fantastic Four are seen on the page, with the entire foursome visible in two of the panels. Drawn by a comic book legend and packed with popular characters, this artwork is estimated at $20,000-$35,000.
If there’s one jugate missing from most presidential memorabilia collections, it’s the 1920 button depicting a young Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the vice presidential candidate with presidential running mate Ohio Governor James M. Cox. Almost certainly a manufacturer’s sample, the glossy 7/8in button is in outstanding condition and comes from the Estate of Donald and Mildred A. Wright. The Wrights were a politically active couple from Seattle who amassed rare political memorabilia for more than half a century. Their lifetime collection will be auctioned by Hake’s over the next two years, starting with a selection that includes their “Cox and Roosevelt” jugate. It has an opening bid of $18,000, which Hake’s founder Ted Hake believes is “about 50% of its current value.”
Other highlights in Hake’s July 15-17 auction include an Anna Pottery stoneware pig flask incised with a detailed railroad map, estimate $10,000-$20,000; a 1966 leather-bound Disneyland guest registry signed by Walt Disney at the opening of the It’s A Small World attraction, estimate $10,000-$20,000; and a rare first-printing Grateful Dead poster for the band’s Sept. 16-17, 1966 appearance at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom, estimate $5,000-$10,000. An iconic American TV collectible, a Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent puppet screen-used on the 1950s children’s series Time For Beany comes with a COA from creator Bob Clampett’s daughter, Ruth Clampett and is estimated at $2,000-$5,000. From television’s modern era, a 1988-89 MTV “Moonman” Video Music Award presented to synth-pop group Art of Noise for their “Kiss” video, featuring Tom Jones. It is entered with a $5,000-$10,000 estimate.
Hake’s Americana Auction #212 is brimming with rare and beautifully preserved examples of the most desired pop culture memorabilia and Americana. The auction is now open for bidding by phone, mail or online at www.hakes.com. The first session will close on July 15; the second session will close on July 17.