Heritage revved up for its first automobilia auction Oct. 23


Rare full-scale International Harvester huckster truck, 1923, which served as the inspiration for the early Buddy ‘L’ pressed steel toys of the late 1920s. Estimate: $25,000-$35,000. Heritage Auctions image

DALLAS – In its inaugural Automobilia, Transport History and Mechanical Models Online Auction, Heritage Auctions presents every corner of the hobby, from a fully working 1920 Ahrens-Fox Fire Pumping Engine to mechanical models and scarce toys. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

It’s a fresh and growing category at Heritage and the Oct. 23 event proves to be a winner right at the starting line, said Nick Dawes, senior vice president of Special Collections.

“This is a new category for us and one we can expand on,” Dawes said. “We’re offering the largest selection of metal motoring mascots ever offered at auction, not to mention three incredible full-size trucks. There’s a whole lot of cool here.”

Leading the selection is a 24-foot long, full-scale Ahrens-Fox Fire Pumping Engine (est. $60,000-$80,000). The Ahrens-Fox fire truck was originally ordered by the Minneapolis City Fire Department in 1920. There’s no way of knowing how many lives or how much property the truck has helped to save over the years, but there is a powerful presence to the vehicle. This historic Ahrens-Fox is being offered for sale with a full complement of hoses, ladders, tools and firefighting accessories of the period.

An award-winning, full-scale Mack Model AC Bulldog Prime Mover, circa 1926-27 (est. $25,000-$35,000) is a faithful restoration of the original, featuring a chain drive, dismountable dual rear wheels and tires and a Factory C cab.

Of special interest to vehicle and toy collectors alike is a 1923 full-scale International Harvester Huckster Truck (above; est. $25,000-$35,000). The fully restored truck is the original inspiration for the highly collectible Buddy “L” pressed steel toys of the late 1920s.

Among the mechanical models on offer is a rare, 3-inch scale Wallis and Steevens Ltd. live steam Simplicity model steamroller made in Basingstoke, England (est. $20,000-$30,000). The fully functioning model is powered by a single cylinder engine. Scarcely seen at auction is a vintage hand-built live-steam model of an America La France fire pumper (below; est. $12,000-$16,000), which makes an ideal centerpiece for any serious collection.


Vintage hand-built live-steam model of an American LaFrance fire pumper. Estimate: $12,000-$16,000. Heritage Auctions image

The sale expands upon the automobile theme in a unique selection of original art and related memorabilia. An important and striking Bell Telephone Co. advertising painting, commissioned to promote the telephone as a necessary safety device, is a rare find with much crossover collector appeal.


George Gibbs (American, 1870-1942), ‘The Bell Telephone Gives Instant Alarms,’ original advertising art, oil on board, 32 x 21in. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000. Heritage Auctions image

“We take it for granted to call 911, and Bell used that image to promote the company as a way a saving lives, which it did,” Dawes said.

The Telephone Gives Instant Alarms Original Advertising Art (est. $30,000-$50,000) depicts a fire steam engine pulled by a team of horses, roaring down a city street on the way to a fire. The painting, by prominent early 20th century Philadelphia artist George Gibbs, was reproduced on millions of Bell postcards. The illustration is well-known among telephony enthusiasts and has been widely shown throughout America.

Automobile toy enthusiasts will find a rare Packard limousine toy automobile by the Hubley Manufacturing Co. (est. $2,000-$3,000). The Hubley Packard was made in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, circa 1930 and is an important American cast-iron automotive toy. This excellent example is all original and complete in the red livery that is the rarest Hubley made.


Rare Hubley cast-iron Packard limousine. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000. Heritage Auctions image

Additional toy offerings include an American painted tin horse-drawn Carriage Toy, circa 1880 (est. $6,000-$8,000) and a fully-rigged Pond Yacht, a circa 1890 relic which harkens back to a time when the hobby was the pastime of choice for both boys and girls (est. $1,500-$2,500).


Franz Bergman, nickel silvered-bronze ‘Angel of Victory’ automobile mascot, circa 1925, 7½. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000. Heritage Auctions image

Additional offerings include an important early 20th century selection of metal motoring mascots, led by a rare, chromed bronze Mickey Mouse mascot from 1934 ($5,000-$7,000) to an extraordinary Austrian nickel-silvered bronze Angel of Victory mascot, circa 1925, by artist Franz Bergman (est. $4,000-$5,000).


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