Ives cast-iron cutter sleigh with horse takes top lot honors at $2 million Donal Markey antique toy, folk art auction

VINELAND, N.J. – The stellar collection of antique toys, banks and Americana amassed by the late Donal Markey surpassed the $2-million mark March 25-26 at Bertoia’s in Vineland, N.J.

The 1,034-lot auction inventory filled the shelves of Bertoia’s showcases with scores of early American folk-art objects and hand-painted signs artfully arranged alongside toys of exceptional quality and condition.

An 1890s Ives cast-iron cutter sleigh with articulated walking horse led the grand parade of playthings. One of only a handful known to exist, the 22-inch-long sleigh was designed with a faux-tufted red seat, delicately detailed running boards, and attractive stenciling to its sides. It more than doubled its high estimate to sell for $86,250 (all prices quoted include 15 percent buyer’s premium). The buyer was a collector from Texas who attended the sale in person.

Of the same era as the sleigh, a Pratt & Letchworth painted cast-iron 4-seat brake with eight passengers and a team of four “galloping” horses was a testament to Markey’s eye for condition and color. Formerly in the Covert and Gertrude Hegarty collection, and measuring an impressive 28 1/2 inches in length, the early transportation toy streaked past its $25,000 to $35,000 estimate to settle at $48,875.

Each of two cast-iron mechanical banks achieved a selling price of $51,750. One of them, an 1884 Kyser & Rex Mammy and Child, drew crossover interest from black Americana collectors. The bank’s action consists of the woman lowering a spoon as though feeding the baby on her lap, followed by the baby raising her legs as the coin drops inside. The second bank, an 1876 J. & E. Stevens production known as “Panorama,” derives its name from the fact that it displays one of a rotating selection of pictures through its front window when a coin is dropped into the slot.

Donal Markey’s collection also boasted many rare and outstanding still (non-mechanical) banks, like a circa-1885 red-version Ives Palace. A favorite with collectors because of its realistic details, the Palace is adorned with chimneys, mock shingles, a cupola and dozens of windows. Estimated at $4,000 to $6,000, it attracted a flurry of bids before hammering $23,000.

Antique advertising also garnered very pleasing above-estimate prices. Made around 1920, a figural cast-iron string holder depicting the long-necked goose mascot for Red Goose Shoes was an eye catcher with its bright crimson-painted body, yellow bill and feet, and green base. Entered with a $2,500 to $3,000 estimate, it brought home the bacon at $17,250. Another advertising lot that kept the bidding paddles airborne was a circa-1870 milliner’s sign with the designer’s name and a different fancy hat painted on each of its sides. Estimated at $3,500 to $4,000, it took a bow at $10,925. Not far behind in the prices realized, a painted optometrist’s sign offering “Spectacles and Eyeglasses” and emblazoned with the image of a pair of eyes peering through framed lenses made $10,925.

Bertoia’s gained a new category of bidders thanks to the 19th- and early 20th-century folk art in the Markey collection. A hand-carved, self-framed picture incorporating a hand with the calling card “Made by J.P. Brown Invalid,” proved hard to resist, with its naïve animals, flowers, fruit and butterflies. The 13 1/2-inch by 17 1/2-inch creation was bid to $21,850 against an estimate of $3,000 to $4,000.


Special discount prices on great books, digital downloads, price guides & reference books for every hobby

Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles 2011 Price Guide

Antique Trader Facebook PageMeet and share with other antiques collectors, dealers and auctioneers on Antique Trader’s Facebook page

Antique Trader Twitter ProfileGet special discounts and breaking news alerts on Antique Trader’s Twitter feed!

Browse (or place your own) FREE online classified ads

Sign up for your FREE AntiqueTrader.com email newsletters

For more trade news, auction reports, research and expert columnists, get a year of Antique Trader magazine for the special online price of just $1 an issue!

Antiques Auction Houses