FAIRFIELD, Maine – On a mid-September afternoon, the owner of a country auction not 15 miles from James D. Julia’s facilities walked in Julia’s door with a toy he had just acquired from an estate. Suspecting it might have some value, he brought it to Julia’s with the intention of consigning it to their upcoming toy and doll auction. The consignor indicated, based on similarities to other Ives toys, his belief that it was an early Ives clockwork toy. Department head Andrew Truman emailed photos to Julia’s longtime head toy consultant, Jay Lowe of Lancaster, Pa., and awaited a response.
Being a veteran toy and doll collector and dealer for the better part of 45 years, Lowe recalls nearly falling out of his chair, immediately recognizing it as the Ives Hippodrome, an exceedingly rare clockwork toy from the 1880s depicting a woman driving an elaborate chariot being pulled by two tin horses. It turned out that precious few of these were ever produced, and only two were known to have surfaced in the last 20-plus years. Truman then secured the toy for the fall auction and word quickly spread throughout the toy collecting fraternity. The toy ultimately found its way to a bidder in attendance for an astounding $69,000, more than tripling the low end of its $20,000 to $30,000 estimate.
This was all part of a three-day auction extravaganza Nov. 28-30, 2012, that combined two days of fine glass and lamps totaling $1.6 million and $900,000 worth of rare toys, dolls, advertising items, salesman samples, coin-operated machinery and so forth to bring the final three-day tally to more than $2.5 million.
The toy sale was filled with superb examples, such as a rare Ives boy on velocipede (a boy riding his horse head tricycle) in exceptional all-original condition. Making this find even more special was the presence of its seldom seen original box. This piece beat out its $7,000 to $9,000 estimate to land at $25,300. Ives toys were the order of the day, with a clockwork toy depicting an animated black figure standing at a podium. A stencil painted clockwork toy featuring a vehement man of the cloth with bulging eyes delivering the good word brought $4,025.
Other exciting offerings included a private collection of German figural papier-mache skittles sets. Topping the list was a rare crouched full-bodied Indian chief container with full headdress. With great color and molding, the set is believed to be only one of a handful known to exist. It sold for $16,100. From the same collection came a full-bodied rooster in vibrant reds, greens, yellows and browns that came complete with its original chick skittles and excelsior, which didn’t appear to have been removed from the body of the bird in a very long time. The set brought $14,950.
The auction continued with a selection of top-shelf dolls consisting of fine bisque French and German character examples. Highlights included a rare 25-inch portrait Jumeau with blue paperweight eyes and dressed in a charming French sailor’s outfit. She sold for $16,100 within an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. German dolls included two painted stockinet dolls by Kathe Kruse with pouty expressions. Both dolls were in outstanding original condition, one of which (an example described as being the rarer “wide-hipped” version) still retained its original box. This, and a Number 1, changed hands at $5,750 and $4,600, respectively.
The sale was rounded out by a massive collection of more than 900 glass candy containers from the 40-year collection of Betty and “Mack” MacDuff. Covering a number of categories, the collection was sold unreserved, individually and in group lots and included some rare examples. Examples included a Cambridge dirigible, nicely crafted of textured glass, that hit $4,255 against a $3,000 to $4,000 estimate.
For more information (whether to bid or consign), contact the James D. Julia offices at 207-453-7125; James D. Julia Inc., P.O. Box 830, Dept. PR, Fairfield, ME 04937 or email email@example.com.