DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. — Pook & Pook, Inc. Auctioneers and Appraisers announces a new collaboration with the jovial, mustachioed king of toy auctions, Noel Barrett. Barrett, along with Pook & Pook, Inc.’s founder, Ron Pook, expressed excitement about joining forces, a move that will benefit both companies, buyers, and sellers. The big question, however, is why these two well-established auction houses are looking to collaborate after decades of going it alone.
Noel Barrett started his love affair with toys, predictably, at an early age. Over time, his fascination
evolved from seeing toys as “neat things to have” to pursuing the business behind childhood nostalgia. “[Toys are] something that I’ve always enjoyed…I’ve turned a hobby into a business,” said Barrett. Years of hunting and dealing helped Barrett build both a superior knowledge of his field and a loyal client base, things that made his eventual auction business a hot spot for collectors. Personally involved in all aspects of the auction process, Barrett found success by applying his knowledge and continued enthusiasm towards one or two finely curated auctions a year. “Success” also might be a bit of an understatement. Noel Barrett hosted the $5 million toy and train auction of the late Disney animator Ward Kimball. He has also handled five auctions dispersing the Toy Museum of Atlanta, the three sales of Bill and Lillian Gottschalk’s record-setting toy automobilia and steam toy collection, and the collection of the Washington Dollhouse and Toy Museum.
Barrett’s skills and personality were also recognized by the creators of PBS’s hit television show, Antiques Roadshow. He appeared on the American inaugural season and has been involved ever since, missing only three shows in over 20 years. Antiques Roadshow was also one impetus for Barrett’s recent expansion; after being approached by viewers and other admirers of his business, Barrett broadened his offerings to include categories such as vintage advertising, salesman’s samples, and unique models.
Pook & Pook (pookandpook.com) was founded by Ron and Debra Pook in 1984. Like Barrett, Ron and Deb started off as antique dealers and graduated to auctioneers in the 1980s to accommodate the needs of their ever-growing family. They soon became a record setting auction firm, offering some of the finest antique furniture, fine art, and decorative accessories on the market. In 2013, the company joined with five other respected auction houses to create Bidsquare.com, an improved online auction platform.
While Pook & Pook has had several successful toy auctions, including selling the contents from Merritt’s Museum of Childhood, a sale grossing more than $2 million, toys have been a smaller subset of the company’s decorative arts coverage. Ron Pook hoped to expand Pook & Pook, Inc.’s scope to include more auctions of toys and related material. A collaboration with Noel Barrett, whose decades of experience and reputation in the toy world are largely unmatched, would provide the backbone for such a move. Similarly, Barrett felt his smaller auction house could benefit from Pook & Pook, Inc.’s infrastructure and strong online and media presences. Ron Pook and Noel Barret, close friends for decades, saw an opportunity to improve on what both companies offered by continuing their traditions in tandem.
Starting in the fall of 2016, bidders can expect both companies to present several collaborative auctions under the designation “Pook & Pook, Inc. with Noel Barrett.” These auctions will take place at Pook & Pook, Inc.’s auction gallery in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, with Barrett continuing to secure collections, research and describe the toys, and assist with catalog production.
Ron Pook called the development a “great opportunity for Noel to increase his media presence and online exposure and an equally good opportunity for Pook & Pook to expand our business guided by Noel’s expertise and reputation” and promised that “Pook & Pook will now have an entire toy division dedicated to doing several toy auctions each year.”