NEW HAMBURG, Canada – Edison phonographs, mid-century jukeboxes and early 20th-century mechanical banks by J. & E. Stevens all performed well in Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.’s online Music Machines, Toys & Advertising sale held March 19. The 541-lot auction grossed $420,847. All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars.
A circa-1890 Edison Class M cylinder phonograph was the sale’s top lot, besting its $15,000 high estimate to bring $35,400. The Edison Class M cylinder phonograph was initially intended for business dictation but in time entertainment became its main role. The phonograph sold came with a Standard reproducer, rails for listening tubes and one listening tube.
A circa-1911 Edison Opera cylinder phonograph, Edison’s top-of-the-line model, famous for its smooth-running motor and self-supporting horn, realized $8,260. The phonograph boasted a rich mahogany finish on the case and bronze tiger striping, which enhanced its quality and luxury. Bidders blasted through the estimate, which was $3,000-$4,000.
A J. & E. Stevens mechanical bank depicting reliefs of Robert E. Peary’s 1909 expedition to reach the North Pole realized $7,670. Users operated it by pushing the flag down, inserting a coin into the slot and pressing forward. The painted cast iron bank showed very little wear and was in good working order.
A circa-1906 J. & E. Stevens painted cast iron Boy Robbing Bird Nest mechanical bank in the hard-to-find color variation and in good working order sold for $6,490. The user would raise the limb of the tree into position, place a coin in the slot and press the lever, making the limb and boy fall and the coin disappear into the tree.
In addition, a Mechanical Novelty Works painted cast iron second degree mechanical bank with a goat and frog mechanism, made in New Britain, Connecticut and offered in working order, went to a determined bidder for $4,720.
A Wurlitzer Model 1015 jukebox (colloquially known as the One More Time or OMT jukebox) offered in the auction was a replica, not an original. It was made in Germany around 1990 and had been updated to play dozens of 45 rpm records. Boasting multi-color lights, bubble tubes and gleaming chrome on the nostalgic exterior, the jukebox beat its $6,000 high estimate, topping out at $8,260.
Selling for an identical price was a Rock-Ola Tempo II Model 1478 jukebox, but this one was an original, made in America circa 1960. It was nicknamed the Windshield because it was designed to look like the cars of the era, which sported big fins and distinctive windshields. The jukebox was in good working order, though it was mono only, and able to play as many as 120 different 45 rpm discs.
Returning to early phonographs, other examples in the sale that did well include a circa-1898 Columbia Type AS coin-op cylinder phonograph, which represents an early example of a phonograph intended as an entertainment device for a public setting, such as a restaurant, waiting room or arcade. It had its horn and all its keys and sold for $4,720.
Also, an Edison Model A Gem cylinder phonograph with a striking blue glass horn, a key-wind two-minute cased phono with the Gem reproducer specially made for the Model A between 1900-1902, and also gold pinstriping and black enamel earned $4,720.
To consign a single piece, an estate or a collection, call Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. at 519-573-3710 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the firm’s upcoming auctions, visit www.millerandmillerauctions.com.
The current rate of exchange is dollar CA 1 = 78 cents.
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