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Christmas ornaments

Early Christmas ornaments shine at Pook-Barrett auction

Christmas ornaments
German painted Santa Claus candy container, 18½in high, circa 1917. Sold for $2,500. Pook & Pook Inc. with Noel Barrett image

DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. – Pook & Pook teamed up with antique toy expert Noel Barrett on Dec. 4 for a fun Christmas Antique Toy Auction. While there was no live audience in the gallery, that didn’t stop passionate toy collectors from actively pursuing their picks for the holiday season. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

The sale came in above the high estimated total with a 97% sell-through rate.

The diverse offerings typical of a Pook-Barrett auction were a tradition continued with this sale. The highlight of the sale was the holiday-specific offerings including a wide variety of Christmas décor that started off the sale. Numerous German composition Belsnickel candy containers, German Father Christmas toys, Christmas trees and ornaments were concentrated in the first third of the auction. One stern-faced German composition Belsnickle candy container almost doubled its high estimate bringing $2,318. A German painted composition Santa Claus candy container (above) measuring 18½ inches high, which was originally purchased from the toy giant FAO Schwarz over a century ago, brought $2,500, more than four times its high estimate from a LiveAuctioneers bidder. Waving past all expectations was a special Dresden American Flag Christmas ornament (below) bringing $6,710, perhaps a record for a Dresden ornament. It was one of numerous Dresden decorations offered, all of which did well. A top yuletide piece that crossed the block was a figural milk glass Santa Claus miniature oil lamp from the late 19th century. This unusual find came in at $2,318.

Christmas ornaments
Dresden American flag Christmas ornament, 5in long. Sold for $6,710. Pook & Pook Inc. with Noel Barrett image

For buyers who didn’t want the trouble of decorating their own tree this holiday season, several fully adorned feather trees were up for auction, the top examples bringing $3,416, $2,318 and $2,196. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and all of the other reindeer were pulling a sleigh of great prices. Eight composition reindeer candy containers came in at $2,440, over four times the high estimate, and five large Dresden reindeer Christmas ornaments came in at $1,464, well over its high estimate also. And finally, a Hubley cast-iron Santa with double reindeer pull toy dashed all the way to $1,464.

Christmas ornaments
Decorated German feather tree, 63in high, decorated with about 50 composition angel ornaments. Sold for $2,800. Pook & Pook Inc. with Noel Barrett image

The iconic toy for under the Christmas tree has got to be a fire truck, and the Pook-Barrett team brought an incredible one this time around. A mechanical model of a Knox fire truck from the turn of the century came in right at the higher end of its estimate at $7,930. A striding French Roulett & Decamps clockwork leopard measuring 26 inches long with keywind and nodding head action also finished within estimate at $3,416. A real surprise in the sale was a Reason Manufacturing Co. The Flying Witches game. This unique item had no comparable examples to be found so it was given a conservative estimate of $400-$600. Still in its original box, this sole example sported two crepe paper and painted tin witches riding brooms revolving around a pole topped with a crescent moon. The floor bidding started at $550, but in less than two minutes had climbed to realize $3,660. A group of miniature dollhouse accessories with exquisite detail came in at six times the high estimate at $3,172. One surprise, according to Barrett, was the Bliss paper lithograph alphabet chair that surpassed past what he believed to be a generous $200-$300 estimate to $2,250. A Marx tin lithograph Flash Gordon Signal Pistol, with the original box that was in excellent condition, blasted its way to over the top estimate bringing $2,850 from a bidder through

Christmas ornaments
Marx tin lithograph Flash Gordon Signal Pistol with box. Sold for $2,850. Pook & Pook Inc. with Noel Barrett image

The highlight of the aeronautical toy collection of the late Harry Nowak was a Kenton Flying Boat with “Fokker” lettering on the wings and nickel-plated wing-tip pontoons. This exciting piece was bid on 23 times before it finished at $6,100. A second plane also blew the top off its estimate. A brightly colored red and teal Hubley cast-iron DO-X seaplane came in at $3,500, over four times the high estimate.

Christmas ornaments
Kenton cast-iron Fokker Flying Boat. Sold for $6,100. Pook & Pook Inc. with Noel Barrett image

Cast-iron automotive toys included a number of excellent examples from the Bill and Stevie Weart Collection, among them a group of colorful taxicabs and a nice example of a Hubley armored motorcycle. A highlight of the Weart Collection was a scarce Hubley cast-iron cement truck with a revolving drum, nickel-plated tank and an integral driver, which, even restored, still brought $4,148. A boxed Fred Thompson Smith Miller diecast Mack Auto Transport car carrier, no. C131/350, with six display vehicles in original boxes brought $2,000, which, according to Barrett, is $1,000 more than the one that sold last year, sans box. Additional iron automotive pieces included a group of colorful and finely crafted car models by Tom Selhoff. Even more iron in the sale comes from a small group of mechanical banks highlighted by a Darktown Battery Base Ball Bank in its original box, which brought $3,904.

As popular as ever at the Pook-Barrett auctions are Baranger motions, colorful and cleverly electric animated window displays that were rented to jewelry stores from the 1940s to ’60s. Five of them crossed the auction block on Dec. 4. The highlight, an incredible lovebird carnival display featuring a central Ferris wheel, a carousel and a burger stand, all with lovebird couples and a placard that read,“You can be her Love Bird – Buy that Diamond Now,” realized $8,540.

Christmas ornaments
Baranger Studios jewelry store display, Sold for $8,540. Pook & Pook Inc. with Noel Barrett image

Pook & Pook with Noel Barrett is seeking toys made before 1950, as well as all manner of unusual objects including advertising signs, salesman samples, unique models, coin-operated devices, and early store fixtures. To consign, email photos to or or call 610-269-4040 to speak with an appraiser.

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