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 www.RSLAuctions.com.