Steam toys propel Pook & Pook with Noel Barrett auction

The powerhouse toy in the sale was this massive live steam model of 1912 Case traction engine that sold for $13,420. Pook & Pook with Noel Barrett image

DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. – Pook & Pook’s auction gallery was buzzing the morning of June 15 with many passionate toy collectors eager to take one last look at the 452 lots on offer. Pook & Pook’s Antique Toy Auction that day was the latest in collaboration with the acclaimed antique toy expert Noel Barrett. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

The Pook & Barrett team enjoyed high interest in their summertime sale and their hard work earned a successful result. As the hammer fell on the last lot, the sale had achieved an accumulative value of $303,824. Pook & Pook reported a large portion of the sale’s success was thanks to the tremendous interest of Internet bidders, who accounted for 65 percent of the sale. The antique toy sale was diverse in its offerings, presenting various collections from across the country. Salesmen samples, Steiff teddy bears and steam toys were offered alongside cast-iron fire pumpers, painted wooden boats and exceptionally detailed dioramas.

Part two of the Morton Hirschberg Collection of colorful and kinetic steam toys kicked off Saturday’s sale, offering an additional 137 lots. Painted tin carousels, Ferris wheels, and flying dirigibles crossed the block alongside painted tin blacksmiths, cobblers, acrobatic poodles, musicians, windmills and lighthouses. A few pieces from the Hirschberg collection worthy of mention include the first lot of the sale, a painted tin airship carousel steam toy accessory ($1,342), a scarce Bing cotton mill steam toy accessory ($1,952), and a Bing painted and embossed tin windmill building steam toy accessory ($1,342).

A whimsical collection of lithograph tin penny toys followed in sale, consigned from a Kentucky estate. A scarce Meier animated tin lithograph Punch & Judy penny toy in excellent condition and retaining its vibrant bright lithographed surface was the most popular penny toy of the day with a final hammer price of $1,830 (below). Two Meier tin lithograph children at school desks penny toys also earned more than double their high estimate to land at $1,037.

Meier animated tin lithograph Punch & Judy penny toy, 3½in. high. Price realized:
$1,830. Pook & Pook with Noel Barrett image

Rolling up next in the sale was an excellent selection of salesman samples and live steam traction engine models. A massive live steam traction engine model of a 36-horsepower 1912 Case tractor from a Michigan estate achieved top lot of the sale at $13,420. A similar 22-inch live steam traction engine model of a 1913 Burrell & Sons tractor followed at $10,980. Wrapping up the salesman sample selection was the impressive hammer price of $4,880 on an exceptional horse-drawn Adriance Buckeye sickle mower (below).

Salesman sample horse-drawn Adriance Buckeye sickle mower with original surfaces. Price realized: $4,880. Pook & Pook with Noel Barrett image

Outstanding clockwork toys had bidders all wound up, with a French CIJ clockwork Alfa-Romeo race car earning 15 bids before finally being hammered down at $6,100. Another popular item, the French Art Collection T35 Bugatti model race car (below) by master builder J.P. Fontenelle sped across the finish line to earn $3,660. Another noteworthy result was achieved on an E.T. Co. Japanese tin lithograph Indianapolis-style race car that doubled its high estimate to be hammered down at $2,440.

French Art Collection T35 Bugatti hand-built model race car, 1/8th scale, 19in. long. Price realized: $3,750. Pook & Pook with Noel Barrett image

Trains garnered much interest. An early French painted tin and wood Papin train locomotive, probably by Rossignol, more than quadrupled its high estimate with a winning bid of $2,074. A Buddy L pressed steel six-piece outdoor train set also exceeded its high estimate of $1,600, selling at $2,440. A 19th century Althof Bergmann painted American tin clockwork Utah train locomotive followed in sale, seeing a frenzy of bidder activity with a total of 23 bids placed before finally being hammered down for $1,464.

Teddy bears were a boon to the toy sale, with nearly 40 lots featuring provenance from the estate of Raymond and Nadine Gravatt of Ravenwood Farm in Cream Ridge, New Jersey. A Steiff cinnamon mohair teddy bear, circa 1910, with shoe button eyes, elongated limbs and hump doubled its high estimate to sell for $1,600. A Steiff item without the New Jersey provenance was a “Record” mohair teddy bear, ca. 1915, on an Irish mail pull tool selling for $1,830.

Some additional unusual items also had their day on the auction block, with a more than a few items seeing impressive results.  A scarce E. Trask mechanical Salem Witch toy, inscribed “Ford’s Patent Nov. 26th, 1867,” cast her spell on a lucky bidder to earn $3,416. A one-of-a-kind salesman sample butcher block, retaining its original decal, inscribed “Wolf, Sayer & Heller – Chicago Butcher Supplies – Handsome Market Fixtures,” the first ever seen by Pook & Pook appraisers, was hammered down for $3,172.

Scarce E. Trask mechanical Salem Witch toy, inscribed ‘Ford’s Patent Nov. 26th, 1867,’ with a paper lithograph spinning drum, 7in. high. Price realized: $3,500. Pook & Pook with Noel Barrett image

Antique German Halloween decorations remain popular as a three-section folding die- cut fire screen featuring a witch, black cats and a jack-o’-lantern earned $1,342 and a set of three owls lithographed lamp shades earn $488.

Closing out the sale was an exciting collection of European room boxes and dioramas, many of which exceeded their high estimates. The exceptional European-style butcher shop diorama was featured on the cover of the catalog and boasted impressive painted details. The elaborate diorama contained two carved and painted butchers, butcher blocks, rows and rows of carcasses and various cuts of meat, and a painted brick façade with potted plants. The unique item surpassed its high estimate of $5,000 and sold for $9,150. Another smaller butcher shop diorama, featuring a singular butcher and his pet cat gazing up at various cuts of meat, sold for $1,586.

European-style butcher shop diorama, 21¾in. high x 21½in. wide. Price realized:
$9,150. Pook & Pook with Noel Barrett image

Directly following Saturday’s sale was an online-only toy auction on June 17. Bidding was again available through LiveAuctioneers, with an additional 681 lots crossing the block. The sale was a success with an accumulated value of $132,450.

As with Saturday’s sale, Monday’s auction saw a flurry of interest in dolls, trains, and clockwork toys. Some items of special note include the top lot of the day, a French bisque head doll with fixed eyes, closed mouth and jointed composition body, selling for nearly quadruple its high estimate at $3,438.

Exceptional Schoenhut figures still demand high interest and high prices. A large 17-inch high store display circus clown earned $2,000 and a Humpty Dumpty Circus tent with performers and animals, including lions, zebras, an alligator and other various characters and accessories earned $1,500.

Pook & Pook & Noel Barrett’s next Antique Toy Auction is slated for Fall 2019.

For details contact Pook & Pook at or 610-269-4040.