Anyone lamenting a soft economy these days surely hasn’t attended a Julia auction. Though the low and mid-range levels are a little soft, the upper end remains robust and is still regarded as a solid investment.
This time around, Julia’s offered antique American and European tin, cast iron and pressed steel toys, rare and desirable dolls, trains, scarcely seen advertising, salesman samples, and coin-operated machinery and slots.
A Rockola World Series baseball game featuring the 1937 All Stars, a very intricate game with great action that rivals modern technology is considered one of the finest in existence. Bidders knocked it out of the park, bidding up to $44,400 against a $35,000-$40,000 estimate.
Coin-op proved to be a popular choice throughout the day with a variety of upright and tabletop slots, fortune machines, arcade games, and trade stimulators such as a rare and desirable Lukat the Lucky Cat. This full bodied figure of a reclining feline was an early lottery game; when the tail was pulled, a ticket would pop out of its mouth. If various predetermined numbers matched those found on the attached marquee, the bearer would receive free cigars. A collector flew in from France with the sole purpose of purchasing the piece. He was not disappointed, ending up as the owner after a bidding battle brought it to $22,425, over its $15,000-$20,000 estimate.
Other gambling pieces featured a number of dice games such as an exceedingly rare J.J. Oaks & Son combination dice popper and cigar cutter featured an elaborate hexagonal brass base decorated with fancy floral patterns. With crossover appeal to gambling collectors as well as tobacco aficionados, it went out at $7,590 versus a $6,000-$8,000 estimate.
Many of the upright slot machines offered went to a very active phone bidder. Highlights included a fabulous Caille New Century upright slot machine with music. With a center roulette dial with pierced brass dial in a gorgeously carved walnut case with two side columns, intricate nickel cabriole legs, and beautiful nickel castings, this outstanding piece went out midway through its $35,000-$45,000 estimate to sell for $40,250.
Other items for the game room included a Caille Uncle Sam strength tester. The patriotic icon with arm outstretched, challenges passersby to test their grip by shaking his hand. A Canadian buyer won out, paying $25,875 against a $22,500-$32,500 estimate. An English horserace game entitled “Grand National” pitted one steed against another in a race for the finish line. Exceeding expectations of $1,500-$2,500 it found the winner’s circle where it sold for $6,612.
For those with a taste for the macabre, an English working model depicting an interior scene of a funeral parlor was a popular choice. Upon inserting a coin, the somber faced undertaker tends to business, and suddenly receives the shock of his life when the cadaver he thought was at rest is actually not dead at all! This wild item made a killing at $23,000, far exceeding a presale estimate of $8,000-$12,000.
Tin toys included a number of Lehmanns in great condition. A Lehmann Paddy and Pig in exceptional condition brought $1,955 versus its $1,000-$1,500 estimate. A scarce tin windup motorcycle and sidecar by Paya featuring a black rider blowing a horn looked remarkably similar to the gent in Lehmann’s Tut Tut. It finished up at $4,715 against an estimate of $2,400-$2,800.
A seven-piece Buddy L yard train set in good original condition surpassed its estimate of $1,750-$2,200 to sell for $4,715. Cast iron toys included an Arcade International panel truck in very fine all original condition that sold for $5,462 versus a $3,000-$4,000 estimate. And an ever-popular, fresh-to-the-market Stevens Darktown Battery bank that combines baseball collectibles with black memorabilia sold for $9,200 against expectations of $4,500-$6,500.
Toys of a slightly more primitive nature were also offered, reminding us of a simpler time. A large lot of German composition and carved wood zoo animals with virtual miniature acres of habitats and cages saw very active bidding, finishing up at $6,612 against expectations of $1,000-$1,500. A 20th century German circus wagon with its own herd of animals ignored its estimate of $250-$350 to sell for $3,162. Other European delights included various teddy bears by Steiff including an exceptional 20-inch “Cone” bear, so named for its cone-shaped nose that sold for $4,800 against a $2,000-$3,000 estimate. These joined a collection of Schoenhut Circus animals as well as a rare large sized Schoenhut horse known as “Wunderblitz.” This jointed beast was the largest the company ever produced and interest was intense, bringing a final price of $10,925.
Outstanding German characters included a rare 17-inch Armand Marseilles “Fany” with blue glass eyes and a realistic pouty expression. She came to the block with a $7,000-$9,000 estimate and changed hands at $10,925.
Helping to round out the sale was a wide variety of choice antique advertising items. Topping the list was a fabulous pair of papier-mâché full-bodied crouching tigers with their original cage crates. Most likely store displays for Learbury Clothiers of Syracuse, New York, the pair roared past their $4,000-$6,000 estimate to finish up at $17,250.
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