Weekly Auctions of Exceptional Items
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Pittsburgh, PA, United States
DoneSat, Oct 17, 2015 3:00 PM GMT


Many of the soldier sets Cook acquired came with provenance from venerable old collections built by such knowledgeable hobbyists as Bill Miele, Ed Ruby and Tim Ilyinsky. The Cook collection reflects its owner's penchant for pre-World War I Britains, in particular the firm's larger display sets. "Britains traditionally priced their sets according to the number of pieces in each set," Haradin explains. "The big display sets, by virtue of the number of pieces they contained, were expensive. Not that many were made because only the wealthy could afford them. Of the 100 sets in Jim's collection, probably 16 are large display sets, and every one of them is special. You just don't find sets of that type, complete with all of the right figures and in such nice condition. "A display set was considered quite a prize in its day because it might consist of as many as eight or nine individual sets presented in one grand compendium. One of the most coveted of Cook's display sets is a 1st version Britains Set #29 incorporating Life Guards, the 3rd Hussards, 9th Royal Lancers, Royal West Surrey, & Mountain Mule Battery. Made around 1910, the set is complete with 41 original pieces and is the first such set Haradin has ever encountered in such a complete, pristine state." In more than a century, it has never been played with," Haradin observes." That's just unheard of." Cook's assemblage also includes one of only two known original, boxed examples of Britains" Boer War Army Service Supply, with supplies and escort. The box was designed for a fold-out presentation allowing the entire set to be viewed, while the sides of the box fold down to reveal the infantry. Another rarity, a Britains Set #72 First Life Guards Past and Present set, is housed in an 1897 Queen's Diamond Jubilee box with Victoria's image on the label. In addition to Britains, the James Cook collection features military figures from other respected manufacturers, as well as sets from the more unusual civilian lines.