Rare wind-up Felix the Cat Carousel may spin to $40,000

DENVER, Pa. – Morphy’s will launch into spring with an April 19-20 auction of approximately 1,800 lots of antique toys, banks, trains and marbles from selective consignors on both sides of the Atlantic. Both sessions will start at 9 a.m., with all forms of bidding available, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live and Artfact.

Day one will open with an array of pre- and postwar American and European trains, led by an extremely rare Lionel #921 3-section Scenic Park Plot. Made for standard-gauge trains, the plot is dotted with houses, trees and shrubs, and is impressively sized. “It’s the largest landscape item of its type that Lionel ever made,” said Morphy Auctions’ Chief Operating Officer Tommy Sage Jr.

Late 19th-century Ingersoll passenger steam locomotive train set, is expected to fetch upwards of $2,000. (Photo courtesy Morphy Auctions)

Late 19th-century Ingersoll passenger steam locomotive train set, is expected to fetch upwards of $2,000. (Photo courtesy Morphy Auctions)

Also in the mix are O-gauge trains, including a contemporary English-made set, un-run with original boxes; and two desirable Lionel productions – a #253 passenger and a set comprised of steam locomotive with passenger cars. Additionally, the railroad grouping includes English Hornby trains, German Bing and Marklin trains and accessories, and a late-19th-century Ingersoll live-steam passenger train set with original wood box for the loco/tender and cardboard boxes for the cars. Two other lots deserving of special attention are a boxed Lionel Santa Handcar with original box and a beautiful hand-painted Marklin Central Station.

The toys chosen for the April 19-20 auction exhibit both rarity and superior condition. Among the highlights of the German tin section are a fine Lehmann “Walking Down Broadway” with dog, walking cane and elusive original box; and a Stock “Jim the Trolley Man” in very rare store display box. Other top lots include an unusual German lithographed tin airplane tower toy and a 32in Bing ocean liner.

More than 100 pieces of pressed steel will be offered, with many boxed vehicles by sought-after brands such as Smith-Miller, Tonka, Keystone and Buddy ‘L.’ A few of the top lots include a scarce Buddy ‘L’ 3-piece Fire Department set in original box and a Keystone ride-on Greyhound Bus. Buddy ‘L’ outdoor railway sets, 40 American and European pedal cars, and scores of other cars and work vehicles round out the grouping.

Doing double duty, two outstanding Retro pressed-steel Flash Gordon spacecraft transcend collecting genres and appeal to both space toy and pressed steel collectors. One example is of silver steel and depicts Gordon’s spaceship, while the other is a toy replica of the destroyer employed by Gordon’s archenemy Emperor Ming the Merciless.

One of only a few known examples of Gunthermann (Germany) Felix Carousel tinplate wind-up toy, carries a presale estimate of $20,000 to $40,000. (Photo courtesy Morphy Auctions)

One of only a few known examples of Gunthermann (Germany) Felix Carousel tinplate wind-up toy, carries a presale estimate of $20,000 to $40,000. (Photo courtesy Morphy Auctions)

Comic character fans will have their pick of great toys by Marx and other quality brands, but Sage predicts all eyes will be on Lot 380, a near-apocryphal Gunthermann (German) tin wind-up Felix Carousel toy. An absolute charmer, it features Felix the Cat characters riding automobiles and zeppelins on the carousel while a three-dimensional Felix figure turns the crank to “activate” the toy. Felix images also adorn the circumference of the metal canopy around the top of the carousel so that, when the toy is in motion, it renders an illusion of the famous cartoon cat running.

“This toy is one of only a couple of known examples and may have been made for a very narrowly focused regional market. I’ve seen only two of them in 35 years as a toy dealer. One was found in New Jersey and the other in Pennsylvania,” Sage said. “Collectors have been looking for this toy forever. It’s like hen’s teeth. It appeared in a toy catalog, but until the first one actually turned up, many collectors thought that maybe it didn’t really exist.” The example in Morphy’s sale was sourced from the house of the original buyer and will be offered with a $20,000-$40,000 estimate.

The parade of toys and related vintage collectibles continues with an excellent selection of comic character watches, mostly boxed; 100+ lots of character premiums (rings, ads, etc.), and battery-operated and friction toys, including a Bandai Vacationer set with car, boat, outboard motor and trailer. An unusual prewar Japanese celluloid roller skater toy retains its original box with attractive paper label.

African-American/black-theme items include games, toys and celluloids. Many pieces are boxed, such as the mint-condition Distler “suitcase walker toy. Also of note is a very early squeeze toy with composition head.

Fifty lots of ever-popular robots and superhero toys will follow, with highlights including boxed examples of a Chime Trooper, X-27 Explorer, TN battery-operated walking Batman, and W-3 wind-up superhero.

The April 19 session also includes Part II of the late Tom Winge’s cowboy and Western toy collection, which includes cap guns and spurs. It is well complemented by a second collection comprised of 12 boxed Hartland cowboy and Indian figures on horseback.

Day one will conclude with a collection of 100+ Big Little Books and a single-owner collection of holiday-theme plastic toys. The latter grouping includes rare color variations

Hubley (USA) figural cast-iron Popeye doorstop, circa 1929, 9 inches tall, original pipe, carries a presale estimate of  $3,500 to $4,500. (Photo courtesy Morphy Auctions)

Hubley (USA) figural cast-iron Popeye doorstop, circa 1929, 9 inches tall, original pipe, carries a presale estimate of $3,500 to $4,500. (Photo courtesy Morphy Auctions)

and unusual depictions of witches on rockets and motorcycles; and a wheeled pumpkin with cat and witch. Yet another highlight is a hard plastic futuristic-looking car.

The April 20 session will open with an 80-lot lineup of cast-iron mechanical banks. Both a near-mint Santa at Chimney and excellent-plus Uncle Sam are expected to make $2,000-$3,000; while a near-mint Punch & Judy could reach $3,000-$4,000. The banks will be followed by 30 cast-iron toys. A fine Hubley “America” airplane in excellent-plus condition is estimated at $2,000-$4,000.

The array of cast iron concludes with more than 30 lots of figural doorstops. Among them are a near-mint Hubley Popeye, $3,500-$4,500; near-mint Banjo Player, $2,000-$2,500; and Flamingo in excellent condition, estimate $800-$1,000.

Morphy’s has developed a loyal following amongst marble collectors and makes every effort to cater to that corner of the toy hobby, said CEO Dan Morphy, who is, himself, a long-time collector of the diminutive glass artworks.

The Saturday session contains more than 800 lots of marbles. A diverse selection, it includes hand-made, machine-made and transitional marbles, as well as boxed sets. Top lots include a 1-5/8in purple glass sulphide with a suspended sheep, est. $1,500-$2,500 and an exceptional shrunken-core onionskin of light blue glass with three floating panels of mica. Measuring 1-17/32in in diameter and graded 9.7 out of 10, it is expected to make $5,000-$10,000 at auction. A Christensen agate 5-color striped opaque marble in 9.8 condition is estimated at $600-$800, while a 1-15/32in solid-core swirl – one of several particularly nice swirls in the sale – could reach $1,500-$2,000.

Other standouts include an Alley Agate salesman’s sample marble case, one of two known to exist, est. $5,000-$7,000; and an all-original, complete boxed set of themed sulphide

Blue glass banded lutz marble, 11/16 inches in diameter., semi-transparent blue with red lines, with a presale estimate of $200 to $400. (Photo courtesy Morphy Auctions)

Blue glass banded lutz marble, 11/16 inches in diameter., semi-transparent blue with red lines, with a presale estimate of $200 to $400. (Photo courtesy Morphy Auctions)

marbles made in Germany in the early 1900s, est. $4,000-$6,000. Each of the marbles in the sulphide set contains a figure of a farm animal encased within the glass sphere. Additionally, Morphy’s will offer 70 other sulphides, 30+ boxes, and hundreds of eye-catching swirls and onionskins.

“This sale is very well rounded and should draw bidders from just about every special-interest category in toy collecting. We’re looking forward to seeing our old friends from across the hobby on the 19th and 20th, and of course we always enjoy meeting new collectors who’ve just discovered us,” said Dan Morphy. “Just a reminder to everyone that all of our auctions now start at 9 a.m. Eastern Time,” he added.

All forms of bidding will be available for Morphy’s April 19-20, 2013 Toys, Banks, Trains and Marbles Auction, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live or Artfact.com. View the fully illustrated catalog online at www.morphyauctions.com or www.artfact.com. For additional information, call 717-335-3435 or e-mail serena@morphyauctions.com.

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