November sale offers a colorful mix of toys, advertising, Civil War and pop culture items

FREDERICK, Md. – Mosby & Co. is mixing it up for the Thanksgiving holiday season with an absentee and Internet Fall 2009 Auction featuring 468 lots of toys, antique advertising, sports-related antiques, carnival and circus items; and Americana and Civil War articles. Bidding through all absentee methods, including the Internet, will commence Nov. 5, 2009, and conclude at midnight E.T. on Nov. 22, 2009.

Three main subgroups – cataloged in 150 lots and spanning a century of production from the 1860s-1960s – will be offered within the general category of “Toys.” Early tin toys are dominated by always-popular antique German examples – “good solid pieces,” said Mosby & Co.’s founder and owner Keith Spurgeon. “One of the top lots is a clockwork Weightlifting Clown that lifts the old-fashioned hundred-pound weight with his teeth. Collectors of European toys know this one. It’s very desirable.”

A second tin-toy standout is a boxed, 1920s Little Giant Zeppelin pull toy measuring 25 inches long and made by the New York company Baer & Strasburger. “It has a great-looking pictorial box with a Manhattan scene that includes the Statue of Liberty but pre-dates the Empire State Building,” said Spurgeon. “It’s always fascinating to see a toy that I have never seen before, like this one.”

An array of clean, original cast-iron toys runs the gamut of cars, busses and airplanes, with a side selection of early, original figural cap bombs and cap guns. The top vehicular lot is a 12-inch red-and-black Willys sedan made by Kenton, one of only three known. “The last time an example of this toy appeared at auction, it made between $10,000 and $11,000,” Spurgeon noted.

Many excellent-condition comic character toys have been consigned, including a Gunthermann Bonzo on scooter and a few Zaccagnini Bambi and Pluto pieces. Additionally, several Disney character watches will be auctioned with their original boxes.

The sale features a small selection of Dionne Quintuplets items, including two sets of Madame Alexander quints dolls. One of the sets is presented in a 3-wheeled painted-wood crib cart with the girls’ names shown on the side. An unusual figural clock with an image of the history-making Canadian quints will be offered, as well as a Stuart Warner Dionne Quints painted Bakelite radio in the largest of three sizes made.

Sports items are led by a 1948 Babe Ruth bronze-painted three-dimensional electric clock in excellent condition, and a striking tin sign that advertises Favorite Chewing Tobacco and features images of the Chicago White Sox’s 1959 MVP Nelly Fox, and Ralph Houk, former manager of the “World Champion New York Yankees.” The sign displays bright shades of yellow, red and blue with black accents and measures 5 feet long.

Other sports-related items include Vanderbilt Cup racing pennants for 1914 and 1915, and an exceptionally attractive 1910 pennant for the Harvard Boston Aero Meet, emblazoned with images of bi-planes and the Bunker Hill Monument.

Perhaps the most highly prized lot in the sale is the 1865 American flag in the Great Star pattern accompanied by a period photo and copy of the marriage certificate of the woman who hand-made it – Sara Elizabeth Young Lee. “She was still using her maiden name when she started the flag, but by the time she finished it, which would have been during the Civil War, she had married,” said Spurgeon. “This flag measures 105 inches by 65 inches and is in spectacular condition.”

Two other notable lots of Civil War vintage include a C. & F. Soistmann regimental marching drum with painted eagle decoration, and an 1853 “John Brown” Sharps carbine with provenance documenting its ownership by a Union soldier who served in the First California Cavalry during both the Civil War and Indian Wars.

A selection of 24 mid-20th-century carnival sideshow banners includes Armless Wonder, Plenty for Two – featuring a scantily clad Hawaiian girl – and Horse with Five Legs, which depicts the steed running in a race with a jockey in colorful “silks” and grandstand in the background. Other tops items in the category are a carousel rounding board and three colorful three-sheet stone-litho circus posters, one of which advertises the Tom Mix Circus.

Four 1930s embossed-tin signs advertising Coca-Cola came from the soft drink company’s Roswell, N.M., bottling plant and are desirable new/old stock. Also in the advertising section of the sale are several lots of F&F plastic premium items advertising Aunt Jemima products, including two sets of spice racks with figural Aunt Jemima spice containers. One of the sets is housed in a metal rack; the other is the later plastic-rack variation.

Coin ops include an excellent countertop Mutoscope digger in original, untampered-with condition, and an all-original Whiting Sculptoscope complete with hundreds of original cards.

Adding whimsy and autumn colors to the auction lineup, an array of Halloween items is highlighted by candy containers, jack-o-lanterns, noisemakers and other novelties. Additional miscellaneous categories in the sale include Staffordshire banks, inkwells and Victorian bisque “naughty” figures, a few figural silver napkin rings (squirrel, kangaroo, birds, etc.) and various advertising smalls and celluloid pins.

Mosby & Co.’s Fall 2009 Auction welcomes mail, phone, absentee and online bids through or Bidding opens on Nov. 5, 2009, and will close at midnight E.T. on Nov. 22, with extended bidding in 10-minute increments until bidding ceases. A printed catalog is available for $17.50 postpaid ($22 to non-U.S. addresses).

For information on any lot, to order a catalog or to learn more about bidding in this sale, call Keith Spurgeon at 301-304-0352 or 781-771-3998 or e-mail

Photos courtesy Mosby & Co.


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