DENVER, Pa. — Bidders at Morphy’s $1.4 million Summer Sale – held June 15-17 in Pennsylvania’s antiques belt – dropped their money into banks, both mechanical and still types. “We had over 200 mechanicals in this sale,” said the auction company’s chief operating officer, Dan Morphy. “It was a diverse selection, both in price range and conditions, and good prices were achieved across the board.”
A wood-boxed, yellow-base version of the perennially popular ’Spise a Mule bank, made by J. & E. Stevens, kicked its $7,000-$10,000 estimate to the curb to settle at $17,600 (all prices quoted include a 10 percent buyer’s premium). A rare color variation of the circa-1885 Afghanistan bank, which includes two symbolic animals – the British lion and the Russian bear – face to face at the gates of the ancient Afghan city of Herat, bore a tag indicating provenance through the famed Ed Mosler collection. Estimated at $3,000-$5,000, it charged to $15,400.
A prize that many mechanical bank collectors were eyeing, a Roller Skating bank, intentionally had been left in as-found condition, under layers of grime that had built up over many years. “We knew that bidders were knowledgeable and would see through that,” said Morphy. “When cleaned, it will be an excellent-plus-condition bank, but we left it up to the next owner to decide the course of action.” The bank power-skated past its estimate to achieve $29,700.
Still banks held their strength in the marketplace, with rare examples taking top money. An extremely scarce Wheel of Fortune bank, estimated at $3,000-$5,000, topped the category at $8,800.
In the vintage and antique advertising section, many highlights emerged. A spectacular 1903 Coca-Cola tray picturing a turn of the 20th century beauty daintily holding a glass of the “delicious, refreshing” beverage earned a buoyant $15,400 against an estimate of $7,000-$10,000. Both advertising and fishing-collectibles fans attempted to reel in a South Bend and Oreno fold-out die-cut sign of a boy and man fishing. In near-mint condition and offered with a 1930s South Bend and Oreno catalog, it landed a winning bid of $5,225. A Dr. A.C. Daniels Animal Medicines veterinary cabinet with a stunning image of white horses galloped to $7,150, while a Wilbur’s Chocolate and Pepsin Gum vending machine attracted a sweet bid of $8,800.
No Morphy sale is complete without top-quality toys. Among the highlights were a Strauss tin wind-up “Santee Claus” with reindeer toy that dashed away at $3,300 and a superb I.Y.-brand Japanese-made “Friendly” tin motorcycle with male and female passengers, which sold together with its colorful original box for $8,800.
In decorative arts, a Tiffany Turtleback lamp with a 14-inch diachronic glass shade in warm tones of yellow to gold, realized an above-estimate price to lead the section at $28,600. Also performing with distinction were two Newcomb College pottery vases. A 9 1/2-inch floral cylinder vase designed by Harriet Coulter “Hattie” Joor, made sometime before 1906, more than doubled its high estimate at $6,600. Another Newcomb College piece, a 10 1/2-inch high-glaze barrel-shape vase with a banded Art Nouveau motif, likewise ignored its estimate – $1,000-$1,500 – to end its run at $7,700. Both of the Newcomb College lots had come to Morphy’s as an addition to a toy consignment, Dan Morphy revealed.
The sale’s closer was a huge assortment of figural cast iron novelty items. Fed by a strong interest in the marketplace, excellent prices were achieved. Heading the group was a cast-iron Pelican doorstop signed Spencer, Guilford, Conn. Exhibiting wonderful detail to the “feathers,” and exquisite paint overall, it brought $12,500 against an estimate of $1,500-$2,000.
Morphy remarked that the Internet and phone bidding during the three-day sale was the “most active we’ve ever experienced. We’ve definitely noticed that more and more people are taking this route. I believe both will become an integral part of our sales from now on, because people are trusting our judgment on the condition reports. They now know they don’t have to physically be here – they can call for a condition report on any piece, then bid with confidence by phone or Internet.”
On Aug. 31-Sept. 2, Diamond International Galleries-owned Morphy Auctions will hold its Fall Sale.
For additional information, call 717-335-3435, email info@morphy auctions.com or visit ww.morphy auctions.com.
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