PITTSBURGH – On Oct. 17, Ray Haradin’s specialty company Old Toy Soldier Auctions (OTSA) pulled out the big guns with the James Cook collection, the headliner of its “Investment Rarities” sale. Featuring early Britains military sets of extreme rarity and superior condition, the 103-lot offering attracted enthusiasts from all over the world by phone, absentee and live via the Internet, finishing at $305,000 (all prices quoted inclusive of 20 percent buyer’s premium). The total was a house record for OTSA.
“This was our most successful auction ever, with a 100-percent sell-through rate and an average lot value of nearly $3,000,” said Haradin. “The sale total exceeded the overall high estimate and our own high expectations.”
Leading the charge was a rare (one of two known boxed examples) Britains Boer War Army Service Supply Column with supplies and escort. Estimated at $12,000-$14,000, it was chased to $22,800.
Not far behind was a Britains Set #72, Life Guards Past & Present. Presented in an 1897 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee box with Queen Victoria’s image on the label, the set was produced to commemorate the Queen’s Guards of 1837 and 1897. Deemed the finest of known examples, it swept past its $12,000-$15,000 estimate to settle at $20,400.
Army outfits continued their confident march to the top of prices realized with a Set #73 British Army Display commanding $13,200. Attacking by sea, a Britains Set #1648 Naval Display was not to be denied its moment of glory, capturing a high bid of $19,200 against a $6,000-$8,000 estimate.
The above-high-estimate trend for early Britains continued with a Set #25, titled “Soldiers That Will Shoot,” hammering $9,600 against expectations of $2,500-$3,500; and a Set #1903 Indian Mountain Battery pushing just a bit farther with a winning bid of $10,200 against presale hopes of
$4,000-$6,000. Made circa 1900, a first-version City Imperial Volunteers Set #104 with 10 armed, uniformed figures in its original box surpassed its $1,200-$1,800 estimate, rising to $3,720. A prewar Britains 11-piece Zulu Kraal Display Set #188 with palm trees, huts and Zulu figures in its original diorama-style “landscape” box defied its $2,800-$3,800 estimate to sell for $6,600.
Strong prices were paid for civilian sets of all types. A wonderful Britains prewar Girl Guides set with eight guide figures and an adult “guider” figure still tied to their original box achieved $7,800.
From Britains’ line commemorating Famous Football Teams, a set replicating the Middlesbrough (England) team included field players and a goaltender in red shirts and white shorts, plus the original ball, flags and goalposts. It more than doubled expectations, scoring $4,320.
One of Britains’ most unusual productions, a circa-1930 Working Model Autogiro Set #1392, replicated an aircraft that was actually utilized to deliver mail in the Philadelphia area prior to World War II. Complete with original pilot figure and attractively illustrated original box, the curious, blade-propelled working model flew past its $3,000-$4,000 estimate to land at $6,600.
For more information, visit OTSA online at www.oldtoysoldierauctions.com. To contact Ray Haradin about consigning to a future auction, call 800-349-8009 or 412-343-8733, or e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.