RSL Auction Sells Architectural Banks, Mechanical Banks & Toys For $987,000

Uncle Remus, Kyser & Rex Company, Philadelphia, circa 1891, is one of the most colorful and animated banks ever designed. Of cast iron, near mint-plus and bright, it carried a high estimate of $35,000 and sold for $40,460 to a phone bidder. The provenance lists Ed Mosler and Emmanuel Rodrigue.

TIMONIUM, MD. — An important collection of architectural banks, mechanical banks and toys crossed the auction block at Richard Opfer’s Gallery at 1919 Greenspring Drive on Saturday, June 1, under the direction of RSL Auction Company. “It was a very good sale, we had some fine lots that did well, and we know of a good number of collectors who made important additions to their collections,” Leon Weiss said. He noted that the sale grossed $987,000, including the 19 percent buyer’s premium, with only 20 of the 580 lots bought in.

This sale followed the phone and Internet pattern of most auctions these days, with about 30 live bidders in the gallery who were eager and active. Left bids numbered 78; 400 bidders signed up for the Internet, with 80 successful bidders; and the bank of seven phones was kept busy with 25 more bidders. In the end, 131 lots went to the Internet, representing 22½ percent of the sale, “The highest Internet activity we have ever had,” Leon noted. However, the dollar value of the Internet sales represented only 10 percent.

All of the prices noted with the photos and in the review include the buyer’s premium of 19 percent. If bought on the Internet, or paid for by credit card, there is an extra 3.5 percent added to the regular buyer’s premium.

A good number of the still banks in the sale were made by Arcade Mfg Co., Freeport, Ill., including the first lot, a Flat Top Limousine Green Cab, and lot 3, a Yellow Cab bank, circa 1925, in near pristine condition. With a high estimate of $1,000, it sold for $1,428. Several lots later, a Give Me a Penny with twist pin, Wing Mfg Company, circa 1895, very fine condition, went for $654, just below the high estimate. This particular bank had a paint variation, with the man wearing yellow pants and hat and a green shirt instead of black and red.

The Indian Family by J.M. Harper, St Louis, circa 1905, near pristine condition, went for $1,428 with a high estimate of $1,500; a Quilted Lion, probably by A.C. Williams, Ravenna, Ohio, circa 1920, went over the high estimate of $600, selling for $1,011; and a black painted Rhino, Arcade, circa 1915, pristine condition, went over the high estimate of $400, selling for $773.

An English Grandfather’s Clock with superior japanning, pristine plus, went over the high estimate of $1,000, selling for $1,428, while a US Mailbox on Victorian Stand, Hubley Toy Company, Lancaster, Penn., near pristine condition, went for $2,147, $650 over the high estimate. It was bright red, with gold lettering and eagle, mounted on a green stand.

About 50 spelter and silver lead banks in all shapes and mostly small followed the still banks and preceded the mechanical banks. For the most part, these banks were a bargain, if judged by the final bid as compared to the estimates, with a variety of animals, bells, globes, figures, lighthouses and buildings in the collection. Bringing the top price, $2,737, of this section was a pink and gray Cockatoo, Germany, circa 1910, highly detailed, in excellent plus condition. It had an estimate of $1/1,500.

A selection of cast iron toys included Horseless Carriage, probably by Harris Toy Company, Toledo, Ohio, circa 1900, 6 inches long, that sold over estimate for $833, and Flat Top Buick Yellow cab, Arcade Toy Company, circa 1925, 8 inches long, which opened at $2,500 and sold for $3,570. The high estimate was $2,000.

A small size Royal Circus Bandwagon by Hubley was in near mint and bright condition and went slightly over the high estimate, selling for $6,545. This toy measures 23 inches long and the catalog states, “This is quite possibly the finest known specimen of this toy.”

Early American tin toys included a City Park Trolley by Merriam Manufacturing Company, Durham, Conn., circa 1875, measuring 15 inches long, that went for $3,094, and a “Victory” Clockwork Locomotive by Ives, Blakeslee Co., Bridgeport, Conn., well working and in bright colors, 9 inches long, sold for $2,261.

Two original sketches by George Brown, both watercolors on paper and in pristine condition, were once part of a large book. The first, showing tin banks, opened at $5,500 and sold for $8,925 against a high estimate of $7,500, and the second lot depicts a colorful horse-drawn wagon with roof and driver and some ideas for horse-drawn rigs. It had a high estimate of $9,000 and sold for $10,115. The sketchbook was purchased intact by the famed toy collector Bernard Barenholtz in the late 1960s and in 1989 it was taken apart and sold as individual pages.

A selection of European toy included a Civilian Motorcycle windup by Ingap Toys, Padova, Italy, circa 1930, that went over estimate, selling for $1,547, and a Nazi Signaler, probably by C. Kellerman, Germany, circa 1935, 5 inches tall, tin, at $595. The Advocate, Ferdinand Martin, French, circa 1900, tin and fabric depicting a frizzy-haired lawyer working the courtroom, went over the high estimate of $1,800, selling for $3,570. A single bid of $2,023 took a Saloon Car with Tilting Window, Karl Bub, Germany, circa 1922, 12½ inches long and in good working order. It went under the low estimate of $2,800.

A grouping of architectural still banks, many from the same collection, included Bank on Stepped Base, probably English, circa 1895, outstanding condition, that went for $3,094, exceeding the high $2,000 estimate. It was in pristine condition and the provenance listed Donald Mackey.

According to the catalog, lots 402–408, a complete assembled set of the State Bank, may be the only known set ever sold at auction. Starting with the smallest, 3 inches high and dating circa 1900, it sold within estimate for $268. The largest, 8 inches tall, in near mint-plus condition, went for $1,309 with a high estimate of $1,800. In between, prices ranged from $119 to $2,142 and five of the lots carried the Donald Markey provenance.

The Town Hall bank, red with yellow cupola, pristine condition with a Bill Bertoia provenance, went for $4,462.50, over the $3,500 high estimate, and a near mint Skyscraper with Clock, A. C. Williams, Ravenna, Ohio, circa 1915, “one of the finest examples of this scarce bank,” sold over the $2,000 high estimate at $3,213.

One of the hard-to-find still banks is House with Bay Window, probably by J & E Stevens, Cromwell, Conn., and all three sizes were offered at this sale. The smallest, 4 inches high, dated 1874, sold over the high estimate of $2,000 for $3,867.50, and the medium size, estimated at $1,8/2,500, went for $2,142. It was 47/8 inches high and in very good plus condition. The largest size, 55/8 inches, dated November 10, 1874, painted red, white and blue, went over the high estimate of $4,500, selling for $6,545. All of the banks retained the original base plate.

Another grouping of mechanical banks concluded the auction, with Girl in Victorian Highchair by W.S. Reed Toy Company, Leominster, Mass., circa 1880, in pristine condition, selling for $12,495. A Jumbo Bank by J.&E. Stevens, Cromwell, Conn., circa 1883, brought $6,545, while a Mason bank, Shepard Hardware Company, Buffalo, N.Y., near pristine, brought $7,140.

Bidding was strong for Panorama, green with red roof, by J.&E. Stevens, circa 1876. The catalog reads: “This is, without a doubt, one of the finest specimens that we have ever seen. It retains 97 percent bright paint with a great condition paper reel.” The provenance lists antiques dealer Richard Garthoeffner. Estimate at $25/35,000, the bank sold for $35,700. Several lots later, Peg-Leg Beggar, H.L. Judd Mfg Company, Wallingford, Conn., circa 1881, a rare bank that depicts a Civil War veteran begging for alms, near mint-plus, sold for $16,650 against a high estimate of $15,000. The provenance lists Donald Markey and Kidd Toy Museum.

The date and location of the next sale, planned for late in the year, will be announced soon. RSL Auction Company is operated by Ray Haradin of Pittsburg, Penn., Steven Weiss of New York City and Leon Weiss of Oldwick, N.J. For additional information, call 908-823-4049 or visit

Leading off the final grouping of mechanical banks was Boy Scout Camp by J.&E. Stevens Company, Cromwell, Conn., circa 1912. Of cast iron and in near mint and bright condition, it had an estimate of $20/30,000 and fell in-between at $27,370.

The star of the cast iron still banks was close to being the last one offered at the sale, lot 435, a large City Bank, American, circa 1880, one of “only a handful of examples known to exist” and “this may be the finest known example.” In near pristine condition, it was painted red with a brownish front door, off-white shingled roof and gold eagle on top of the chimney. With a high estimate of $12,500, it opened at $10,000 and sold for $17,850.

The first lot of the sale was a Flat Top Limousine Green Cab bank, Arcade, circa 1921, a near mint example with the original Arcade label, license plate #830, and “Green Cab Co. Grant 8100” as advertised on the door. In near mint condition, bidding opened at $7,000 and closed at $11,900.

Hose Reel by Dent Hardware Company, Fullerton, Penn., made this toy circa 1915 and this example is in outstanding condition, near mint. The cast iron toy was found by famed toy collectors Covert and Gertrude Hegarty in the 1940s, measures 21 inches long, and well exceeded the high estimate of $7,000, achieving $11,305.

The Articulated Walking Horse by Ives, Bridgeport, Conn., circa 1885, is listed in the auction catalog as “one of the most beautiful and kinetic cast iron toys ever made.” In excellent-plus condition, and with a $5/7,500 estimate, it sold for $11,305.

The largest toy in the auction was The Royal Coach, made by Lutz, Germany, circa 1859, a hand painted toy with functioning canopies and felt-covered horses. It measures 50 inches long, is in pristine plus condition, and is made from tin, sheet steel, leather, papier-mâché and felt. It sold for just under the high estimate at $9,520.

Gong Bell Mfg of Connecticut made this Daisy Bell Toy, circa 1890, 8½ inches long, that carried a $3,5/5,500 estimate. In near mint-plus condition, it sold for $8,925.

Another rare bank, with probably fewer than five known examples, is the High Rise by Kenton Hardware, Kenton, Ohio, circa 1910, in large size measuring 7 inches tall. Made of cast iron and in pristine-plus condition, it had a high estimate of $4,500, opened at $6,000 and sold for $8,330.

Competition was keen for Home Bank, multicolor, cast iron, by H.I. Judd Company, Wallingford, Conn., circa 1895. The bank opened at the high estimate, $3,500, and was finally sold for $7,140. The catalog notes, “This example is truly superior,” near mint condition, with a Donald Markey provenance.

The Robot Bank, made by Starkies of England, circa 1910, shows the postman delivering The Robot (London daily paper), to the home of the prime minister, 10 Downing Street. The bank is of aluminum, near pristine condition, and exceeded estimate, bringing $7,735.

One of the stars of the cast iron still bank lots was the 1882 Church Bank, multicolor, by Kyser & Rex of Philadelphia. It is dated 1882 and is in green, with yellow door, red chimney, purple roof and gold trim. The catalog suggests that it is “perhaps the finest known specimen of this bank, and it is certainly the brightest.” In near mint-plus condition, Donald Markey provenance, it sold for the high estimate, bringing $6,545.

This cast iron still bank of Mickey Mouse, French, circa 1935, is one of only five known and is marked “Depose” on his back. In very fine condition, measuring 8 7/8 inches tall, it opened at $3,500 and sold for $6,545.

Several hard-to-find tin banks were in the sale, including Bunker Hill Monument by George Brown Company, Forestville, Conn., circa 1876, that sold slightly over estimate at $4,760. This one, spectacular and bright, was in pristine plus condition and carried a Donald Markey provenance.

Cast iron cars included this 1926 Plymouth coupe, Kenton Hardware, Kenton, Ohio, circa 1920, 10¼ inches long, in red paint with black running board and white-wall tires. It is a very scarce example and sold for $3,867, above the high estimate of $2,500.

Among the mechanical banks was this Uncle Sam, Shepard Hardware Company, Buffalo, N.Y., circa 1886, cast iron and in excellent condition. It brought $3,570.

Richard Opfer called the auction, here selling lot 298, a carnival trade simulator, American, circa 1910, of wood and in pristine condition. It sold within estimate for $3,213. This piece of folk art measures 17 inches tall, 12½ inches in diameter, and is made out of one piece of a tree. It is operated through a hole at the rear of his neck and both his eyes and his mouth are articulated.

Among the European toys in the sale was Happy Hooligan in Donkey Gig, Ingap Toys, Padova, Italy, circa 1935, that went over the high estimate of $1,800, selling for $3,094. This tin toy measures 7 inches long, works well and is in near mint condition.

The Polish Rooster, probably by A.C. Williams, cast iron and in pristine-plus condition, sold in the middle of the estimate at $2,975. This is a rare bank to start with, but was even rarer due to the black and gold painted surface with red highlights.

Among the German spelter still banks was a Wild Boar, 6¾ inches long and 4¼ inches high, that sold for $2,499 in excellent-plus condition. The provenance listed John Haley.

The RSL of the operation, but not in that order, include, from left, Steven Weiss of New York City, Leon Weiss of Oldwick, N.J.,(both of Gemini Antiques), and Ray Haradin of Pittsburgh, Penn., Toys of Yesteryear and Old Toy Soldier Auctions, who had just wandered away from his phone station.


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