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DENVER, Pa. – Morphy Auctions has a holiday treat in store for toy and advertising collectors: a 3-day sale so big they’re turning back the clock to an earlier-than-usual 9 a.m. start time. The Dec. 8-10 auction contains 2,620 lots, and nearly all of the merchandise comes from collections and is fresh to the market.
The Thursday session will be ushered in by 150 lots of occupational shaving mugs. Among the rarest mugs are examples depicting boxers, a veterinarian treating an ailing horse, and a sea captain’s ship, but the entry that may attract the most interest is a pair of mugs that belonged to the Duesenberg brothers, who produced automobiles but actually began as bicycle manufacturers. “Each of the mugs has a picture of one of the Duesenberg brothers on a bike. The mugs will be sold as a single lot together with a letter of authenticity and other documentation. It’s a great archive,” said Morphy Auctions CEO Dan Morphy. The estimate is $10,000-$15,000.
The rest of the Thursday session is devoted to toys and figural cast iron pieces. The 250 general toy lots include examples of tin, cast iron and other metals. There will be 10+ cast-iron airplanes, including a Dent tri-motor Question Mark plane, est. $4,000-$8,000; and two major Marklin tin boats – a 24-inch Jolanda estimated at $10,000-$15,000; and a 27-inch battleship from Marklin’s third series, est. $12,000-$18,000.
A connoisseur’s collection of 20 wooden model ships attests to the care with which the consignor preserved them, as each is housed in its own custom-crafted showcase. They include a 56-inch Victory, est. $12,000-$18,000; and a depiction of a 1799 36-gun frigate, est. $5,000-$7,000. “These ships have the best detail I’ve ever seen,” said Morphy, noting that the other half of the consignor’s collection was sold at Sotheby’s years ago.
The rarest toy in the sale is the German tinplate Slate Dancer variation featuring two Mickey Mouse figures on a single platform. “This is the only double Slate Dancer we’ve ever seen. We asked around to see what others thought, and everyone told us this was the only one they knew of,” said Morphy. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000.
The 100 pieces of cast iron to be offered include an 8½-inch Hubley Fox doorstop. “Our figural cast iron experts, John and Nancy Smith, say it’s the only one they’ve ever seen. It’s a good local piece from Lancaster (Pa.),” Morphy said. Estimate: $2,000-$3,000.
A collection of 150 Star Wars figures contains many prototypes and one-of-a-kind designs. Top lots include a Droid Voix carded figure, $2,000-$3,000; a Droid Kleb Zellock prototype (made in 1986, never released), $2,000-$3,000; and an Ewok Paploo prototype, $1,500-$2,000.
More than 100 pressed steel lots will roll across the auction block, including pedal cars. The grouping includes a Steelcraft tandem custom lowboy truck and trailer, $4,000-$5,000; a custom-built Ford pedal car, $3,000-$4,000; and an American National Ford Roadster, $1,500-$2,500.
The Thursday session will conclude with a 20-lot collection of rock music artwork. An album “slick” for the Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet album is estimated at $8,000-$10,000; a slick for Jimi Hendrix’s 1969 Smash Hits LP could reach $1,000-$1,500; and a slick for David Bowie’s 1976 Station to Station LP is estimated at $700-$1,000.
The Friday session is comprised entirely of antique advertising, with 250 Coca-Cola lots followed by 250 general soda pop lots and 250 alcoholic beverage lots. A 1900 Coca-Cola serving tray in near-mint-plus condition is estimated at $15,000-$25,000.
In the general soda section, an early-1900s Allen’s Cherry Tame tin die-cut sign in pristine condition could fetch $10,000-$15,000. A near-mint Dr. Pepper serving tray with lion mascot is estimated at $6,000-$9,000; while a 40-inch-tall heavy cardboard diecut sign for Moxie soda – possibly the only extant example – could bring $10,000-$15,000.
Morphy said that, like the beverage signs, the array of general advertising signs is “the freshest, cleanest grouping” yet to be offered by the auction house. A prized Onondaga Cream Indian Brand Canned Goods framed tin sign with the image of a Native American man is estimated at $10,000-$15,000.
Saturday’s session will feature 120+ figural advertising lots and 100+ general store lots. Trade signs include an oversize pair of late-19th-century metal eyeglasses, est. $6,000-$8,000; a John Masury & Son House Paint tin sign with the depiction of a train coming around a mountain, $8,000-$12,000; and an early 20th century American Indian Exposition sign depicting a Native American in a full headdress, $5,000-$10,000.
Leading the 350+ tobacciana lots is the oval Opia Cigar tin sign with an ethereal image of a young woman. In near-mint-plus condition, the sign will likely achieve $10,000-$15,000. Additional Saturday highlights include a Dr. Daniels veterinary cabinet, $6,000-$8,000; and an extremely rare heart-shape ice cream scoop, $4,000-$6,000.
All forms of bidding will be available for Morphy’s Dec. 8-10, 2011 auction, including live at the gallery, by phone, absentee, and live via the Internet through Morphy Live or LiveAuctioneers.com. The sale will begin at 9 a.m. Eastern time on all three days. Morphy’s gallery is located at 2000 N. Reading Rd., Denver, PA 17517.
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