European, Japanese and American vintage toys share the stage at Milestone Jan. 13

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – An amazing selection of pre- and postwar toys from around the world is on tap with Milestone Auctions New Year’s Antique Toy Extravaganza on Saturday, January 13. The catalog is now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

The 732-lot sale includes some of the most sought-after European, American and Japanese playthings from the golden era through the postwar production years. Highlights include a super-rare boxed Linemar Mechanical Popeye & Olive Oyl tank, a stellar Diamond Planet Robot, and a Marx Big Loo robot prototype with impeccable documentation and provenance from its original designer.

“We feel very fortunate to have so many incredible toys from advanced collections in one sale. Many are high-end, museum-quality pieces. Also, there are some unusual buying opportunities in the mix, like the rare variations and prototypes, which toy buyers always respond to very favorably,” Milestone’s co-owner Miles King said.

The toy hobby is still buzzing about the boxed Popeye & Olive Oyl tank that set a world auction record on April 9, 2022 when Milestone sold it for $105,000. One of perhaps a half-dozen examples known to exist, the toy had emerged from Australia, a fact that became widely known after the sale. Contrary to the old adage, lightning did strike twice in the same spot. Worldwide postsale coverage led to the discovery of yet another boxed Popeye tank in Australia from a different, completely unrelated source.

John Elsbury of Western Australia received the tank in 1957 as a seventh-birthday gift from his parents. He clearly remembers being instructed by his mother to sit outside Randall & Edwards jewelry store in downtown Kalgoorlie while the secretive purchase was being made. Sixty-five years later, after stumbling across an online article about the $105,000 price paid for a similar-looking tank, Elsbury starting digging and eventually located his toy, still in its original Linemar packaging with a two-shilling price tag. Elsbury contacted Milestone, and arrangements were made for the tank’s shipment to Ohio. It has an estimate of $40,000-$60,000.

Yonezawa’s Batman tank, all-original and complete with its vinyl Batman driver, is one of the scarcest of all Batman toys. The bright red tin-friction vehicle is emblazoned with Japanese writing, bat logos and images of both Batman and Robin. It carries a $15,000-$25,000 estimate.

Variations are the stuff of collectors’ dreams. A fantastic Yonezawa Diamond Planet Robot is an especially uncommon variation, with a silvery-blue body and red arms and ears. “Any Diamond Planet Robot is like a Fabergé egg to robot collectors. It was made in two color variations – red body with blue arms and ears, and the even rarer blue body with red arms and ears, like the one in our auction. They simply do not turn up for sale anywhere,” said Miles King. “Only a few have ever come to market, so it’s sure to attract strong competition.” The Diamond Planet Robot is estimated at $20,000-$30,000.

The word “prototype” is music to any toy collector’s ears. The sale includes the actual preproduction sample for Marx’s Big Loo Giant Moon Robot. Standing 38in tall, the unpainted silver Big Loo was acquired directly from the toy’s designer, Harry Evanoff, in 1963. It has production numbers on its back and retains a Marx sample tag that says ‘7650, Big Loo, Erie, Return to Harry E.’ The lot also includes archival letters from Louis Marx about production issues and returns, and other unique documents such as a test-sample letter and a timesheet showing hours spent on development. The godfather of all Big Loo robots has been assigned a $15,000-$25,000 estimate.

Wurlitzer jukebox on stand tops charts at two-day Miller & Miller sale

American circa-1940-1941 Wurlitzer Model 71 tabletop jukebox on an original Wurlitzer model 810 stand, CA$14,750
American circa-1940-1941 Wurlitzer Model 71 tabletop jukebox on an original Wurlitzer model 810 stand, CA$14,750

American circa-1940-1941 Wurlitzer Model 71 tabletop jukebox on an original Wurlitzer model 810 stand, CA$14,750


NEW HAMBURG, Canada – A Wurlitzer Model 71 tabletop jukebox on a stand, made in America circa 1940-1941, sold for $14,750 on the second of two days of online-only auctions held June 9 and June 10 by Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. The June 9 auction was dedicated entirely to toys and grossed $141,541 (Canadian); the June 10 sale featured petroliana, advertising and coin-ops and grossed $531,531 (Canadian). Absentee and Internet live bidding was facilitated by LiveAuctioneers. All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars.

Continue reading

Popeye the Pilot toy should fly high at SJ Auctioneers, Jan. 29

Circa-1930 Popeye the Pilot tin wind-up toy plane by Marx, estimated at $1,000-$1,500
Circa-1930 Popeye the Pilot tin wind-up toy plane by Marx, estimated at $1,000-$1,500
Circa-1930 Popeye the Pilot tin wind-up toy plane by Marx, estimated at $1,000-$1,500

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – SJ Auctioneers’ first major event of 2023 will be an online-only sale titled Winter Watch for Wanted Collectibles, slated for Sunday, January 29 and beginning at 4 pm Eastern time. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers. Of the 244 lots, two stand out: a 1930 Popeye the Pilot tin wind-up toy plane and a 1934 Popeye pocket watch in excellent working condition.

Continue reading

Diamond Planet Robot performed like a gem at Milestone

Original Yonezawa (Japan) 10in tin windup Diamond Planet Robot, rare variation with blue body and red arms, 100% original, with high-quality repro box. Sold within estimate for $33,210. Image courtesy of Milestone Auctions
Original Yonezawa (Japan) 10in tin windup Diamond Planet Robot, rare variation with blue body and red arms, 100% original, with high-quality repro box. Sold within estimate for $33,210. Image courtesy of Milestone Auctions
Original Yonezawa (Japan) 10in tin windup Diamond Planet Robot, rare variation with blue body and red arms, 100% original, with high-quality repro box. Sold within estimate for $33,210. Courtesy Milestone Auctions

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – Nearly 880 lots of high-quality antique and vintage toys crossed the auction block at Milestone’s December 10 Winter Toy Extravaganza, chalking up $750,000 and making many collectors’ Christmas dreams come true.

Continue reading

Antique pedals cars took the lead at Milestone’s $500K toy auction

American National Deluxe Coupe pedal car, luxury version with opening doors, sliding windows, interior upholstery and curtains. Length: 68 inches. Sold for $66,000 against an estimate of $20,000-$40,000

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – Milestone Auctions gave collectors what they wanted on September 24th, rolling out a diverse offering of antique and vintage toys from the Mark Smith collection along with high-quality additions from several other consignors. The 755-lot sale was active from start to finish, with many international bidders taking part. After a long but rewarding day at the podium, auctioneer and company co-founder Miles King closed the books at $505,200 (inclusive of buyer’s premium).

Continue reading

Antique toys are on a roll at Milestone Auctions, with a fresh offering on Sept. 24

Kingsbury pressed-steel clockwork wrecker truck, 13in long, all original, very hard-to-find toy. Excellent condition. Estimate $1,000-$1,500

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – If anyone wondered whether new collectors were still entering the antique toy hobby or not, they got their answer last spring when Milestone Auctions closed the books on their headline-making Antique Toy Spectacular. Toy fans worldwide are still buzzing about the Popeye and Olive Oyl Tank that brought a record $105,000 at that sale. On September 24, Milestone will roll out a fresh offering of outstanding vintage toys from the Mark Smith Collection, with high-quality additions from other consignors.

Continue reading

Milestone’s April 9 auction features prized collection of rare Popeye toys

Linemar Japan battery-operated Popeye and Olive Oyl Tank, 11 inches, with extremely rare original box. Very clean and bright, by far the finest example known. Excellent/Near Mint. Estimate $30,000-$40,000

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – That swaggering, wisecracking cartoon sailor Popeye has been depicted on countless toys and memorabilia since first appearing in the Thimble Theatre comic strip in 1929. With his spinach-powered superhuman strength, he was an immediate hit with readers of all ages, gaining an even higher level of visibility in his own cartoon series that launched in 1933. Ever since his debut, Popeye – with his girlfriend Olive Oyl and their motley crew of sidekicks in tow – has been an entertaining figure in the public’s consciousness, and vintage toys designed with Popeye’s image have only continued to rise in popularity and price.

Continue reading

Vroom! Vintage toy motorcycles lead the pack at auction

Circa-1932 Tippco Mickey and Minnie Mouse tin windup motorcycle. Image courtesy of Bertoia Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK — Toy motorcycles certainly get collectors’ hearts revving. Several prominent toymakers produced a range of choices in the early 20th century, in tin or cast iron and from friction action to key windup to clockwork models. The diversity of appearance and the level of attention to detail makes toy motorcycles a prime collectible for both toy collectors and those who fill their garages with full-size motorcycles.

Continue reading

Gallery Report: Vietnamese art prevails at Doyle New York

ATLANTA – At the beginning of every month, ACN columnist Ken Hall delivers top auction highlights from around the United States and the world at large. Please enjoy the March 2022 edition of his Gallery Report. All prices include the buyer’s premium, except where noted.

Vu Cao Dam oil, $126,000, Doyle

A 1970 oil on canvas by Vu Cao Dam (French and Vietnamese, 1908-2000), titled Divinite, signed and dated “vu cao dam 1970” at the lower right and signed with Vietnamese and Latin characters on the reverse, sold for $126,000 at a Fine Art auction held February 23 by Doyle in New York City. Also, Le Vase Chinois by the Vietnamese artist Le Pho changed hands for $113,400, and Le Pho’s Les Poppies achieved $75,600.

Saint-Gaudens statue of Lincoln, $1.2 million, Skinner Auctioneers

A statue of Abraham Lincoln by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, titled Abraham Lincoln: The Man (Standing Lincoln), sold for just under $1.2 million at an American Art Auction held January 28 by Skinner Auctioneers in Boston. Also, an original Peanuts comic strip from 1960 by Charles Schulz, titled Tyrannosaurus Rex, realized $150,000; a Charles E. Prendergast gilded frame rose to $32,500; and a view of Giverny by John Leslie Breck, titled A Mill Stream, hit $75,000.

Von Braun-signed photo, $14,400, Weiss Auctions

A NASA photo signed and inscribed by German-born American engineer Dr. Wernher Von Braun sold for $14,400 in an online-only, two-day, two-session sale held Jan. 26-27 by Weiss Auctions in Lynbrook, New York. Also, a collection of 1916-1930 Standing Liberty quarters, missing only the 1927-S coin, soared to $161,000; an archive of material relating to Lillian Gish changed hands for $6,325; and a circa-1570 close helmet, almost certainly English and possibly worn by an Earl, made $9,300.

Alexander Jackson painting, CA$47,200, Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.

A circa-1945 original oil painting by Canadian Group of Seven artist Alexander Young Jackson (1882-1974), titled St. Lawrence South Shore Village, sold for $47,200 in an online-only Canadiana & Folk Art auction held February 12 by Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd., based in New Hamburg, Canada. Also, a vibrant oil on board by another Group of Seven artist, Franz Johnston (1888-1949), titled The Battlement, Lake of the Woods, went for $25,960. Prices are in Canadian dollars.

LaVerne coffee table, $27,060, Neue Auctions

A Philip and Kelvin LaVerne coffee table titled Eternal Forest, cast with an all-over tree pattern and patinated in silver, sold for $27,060 in an online-only Winter Fine Antiques & Art auction held February 19 by Neue Auctions in Beachwood, Ohio. Also, a Soriana leather furniture seating group by Afra and Tobia Scarpa for Cassina realized $27,060, and a 1987 screenprint by Tom Wesselmann (American, 1931-2004), titled Bedroom Face, made $12,300.

Marx Speedboy 4 prototype, $16,800, Milestone Auctions

A Marx prototype Speedboy 4 motorcycle with a soldier driver, ‘AMMO’ box and spring-loaded cannon for shooting projectiles sold for $16,800 at a Winter Antique Toy Spectacular held January 29 by Milestone Auctions in Willoughby, Ohio. Also, a Marx tin wind-up Tom Corbett Space Cadets Rocket Ship with hand-painted details earned $6,600, and a late 19th-century Wilkins cast-iron water tower fire wagon brought $8,400.

Roger Muhl painting, $9,375, Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers

An original still life abstract painting by Roger Muhl (French, 1929-2008), titled Tulipes Rouges (Red Tulips), sold for $9,375 in an online-only Estate Fine Art & Antique auction held February 21 by Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers in Cranston, Rhode Island. Also, an interior genre painting by John Carlin (American, 1813-1891) realized $7,500; a fine silk gold thread Chinese dragon robe from the Qing dynasty hit $3,438; and a still life painting by Herbert Cash (American, 1864-1914) rose to $4,062.

1907 U.S. $10 gold eagle coin, $587,500, Legend Rare Coin

A 1907 U.S. $10 rolled edge gold eagle coin, one of only 42 struck and graded MS65+, sold for $587,500 at Regency Auction 50. The auction was held January 27 at the PCGS Members Only Show in Las Vegas, Nevada by Legend Rare Coin Auctions, based in Lincroft, New Jersey. In addition, a near-gem 1776 Continental dollar, the E.G. FECIT type, graded PCGS MS64 CAC, went for $146,875; and an 1879 Stella flowing hair $4 U.S. coin, graded PCGS PR64 CAMEI CAC, went to a determined bidder for $217,375.

BTS Grammy ensembles, $160,000, Julien’s Auctions

Seven custom-made ensembles worn by members of the pop band BTS while performing their hit song Dynamite at the Grammy awards, filmed from Seoul, South Korea in March 2021, sold for $160,000 at a Musicares Charity Relief Auction held January 30 by Julien’s Auctions, based in Los Angeles. Also, Keith Richards’ signed black Gibson gloss acoustic electric guitar, offered with an NFT, brought $57,600; and Paul McCartney’s signed Hofner B-Bass Hi Series violin bass guitar made $38,400.

Celentano oil painting, $55,000, Swann Auction Galleries

An oil-on-canvas painting by Daniel Celentano, titled Pelham Bay, sold for $55,000 at an Artists of the WPA auction held January 27 by Swann Auction Galleries in New York City. It was a new record for the artist. Also, a 1942 oil on Masonite by Aaron Bohrod, titled Getting Ready for Auction, realized $21,250; a 1936 double-sided carved woodblock, Cape Cod Cottage and The Coffee Pot, brought $23,750; and a circa-1935 early Jackson Pollock lithograph, titled Stacking Hay, made $16,250.

Smokey and the Bandit car, $500,000, Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, LLC

The 1977 Pontiac Firebird TransAm car made popular in the 1977 cult classic film Smokey and the Bandit sold for just under $500,000 at an auction held January 22 by Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, LLC in Scottsdale, Arizona. It wasn’t the actual car used in the movie, but it was the car given to actor Burt Reynolds for his work in the film. Reynolds sold it in 2014 due to financial problems. It had just 3,600 miles on its odometer.

Cirque Medrano lithograph, $10,200, Potter & Potter Auctions

A 1930s-era color lithograph for Cirque Medrano of Paris, signed by the designer Raoul Ortez and featuring the clown Charlie Cairoli with his father, Jean-Marie Cairoli, on the violin, sold for $10,200 at a Midwinter Vintage Poster Sale held January 29 by Potter & Potter Auctions in Chicago. Also, a 1960s-era airline poster titled India for Big Game / Air India for Service achieved $7,200; and Dozier Mobley’s Think About It! poster realized $4,800.

Lazar Vozarevic oil, $132,000, Nadeau’s Auction Gallery

An oil on wood on canvas by Lazar Vozarevic (Serbian, 1925-1968), titled Circulo, sold for $132,000 at a Modern Art & Contemporary Sale held February 5 by Nadeau’s Auction Gallery in Windsor, Connecticut. Also, a pink 1969 Ford Mustang 351 single-family owner car sped off for $19,200; a set of 12 Hans Wegner (Danish, 1914-2007) chairs, known as The Chair design, brought $12,800; and a 1950s Gio Ponti/M. Singer & Sons sideboard made $11,520.

Fernand Leger gouache, $375,000, Clarke Auction Gallery

A circa-1954 gouache painting by Fernand Leger (French, 1881-1955), titled Les loisirs, sold for $375,000 at an Awesome Estates Auction held February 6 by Clarke Auction Gallery in Larchmont, New York. Also, a painting signed by Alexandre Cabanel (French, 1823-1889), titled Contemplation or The Italian Servant, went for $55,000, and an untitled map-drawing of Las Vegas by Saul Steinberg (American, 1914-1999) rose to $40,000.

Bach signed document, $400,000, RR Auction

A handwritten receipt signed twice by composer Johann Sebastian Bach sold for $400,000 in an online auction held Jan. 14-Feb. 9 by RR Auction in Boston. Also, a photograph of the Romanov Grand Duchesses, signed by all four, earned $75,001; a draft article on the state of humanity, signed by Albert Einstein, rang up $56,914; a King Henry VIII-signed document ordering lavish leashes and collars for his dogs made $50,419; and a Beatles Hollywood Bowl acetate realized $23,837.

Charles M. Russell sculpture, $72,000, Case Antiques Inc., Auctions & Appraisals

A 1929 bronze casting of Charles M. Russell’s sculpture titled Smoking with the Spirit of the Buffalo, commissioned by his wife Nancy three years after the artist’s death, sold for $72,000 at a Winter Auction held Jan. 29-30 by Case Antiques, Inc., Auctions & Appraisals in Knoxville, Tennessee. Also, a Chinese famille verte fish bowl with poem and landscape decoration reached $66,000, and a Tiffany & Co. sword, belt and commendations presented to U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Cadwalader Ringgold hit $52,800.

Tiffany Studios floor lamp, $181,250, Fontaine’s Auction Gallery

A Tiffany Studios Curtain Border leaded glass and patinated bronze floor lamp sold for $181,250 at a Fine & Decorative Arts auction held February 5 by Fontaine’s Auction Gallery in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Also, a Tiffany Studios Byzantine floor lamp lit up the room for $115,625; a Giambologna bronze sculpture of Aphrodite, Goddess of the Sea, made $53,750; and a 19th-century Hertz Brothers carved oak banquet table rose to $35,000.

George Brown Excelsior riverboat, $25,200, Pook & Pook and Noel Barrett

A George Brown Excelsior side-wheel toy riverboat, one of only two known, incomplete and in distressed paint condition, sold for $25,200 at an Antique Toys & Board Games auction held December 3 by Pook & Pook and Noel Barrett in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Also, a circa-1880 Ives lithograph paper on wood baseball toss target hit the mark for $9,840; a Lionel standard gauge Blue Comet flew down the tracks for $9,840; and a Schoenhut bandwagon with some repainting rang up $5,040.

Gertrude Abercrombie painting, $387,500, Hindman

A surreal 1964 oil on panel by Gertrude Abercrombie, titled The Dinosaur, sold for $387,500 at a Somewhere Out There auction held February 17 by Hindman in Chicago. It was a new world auction record for the artist. Also, Wesley Willis’s The Lakefront realized $4,375; Larissa Bates’s Sleeping Mother, Man with Lazar Beams, went for $1,375; and a work on paper by Miyoko Ito, titled Objects in the Nursery, went to a determined bidder for $2,500.

Seven Seas Comics #4$18,750, PBA Galleries

A copy of Seven Seas Comics #4 from 1947, graded CGC 6.5 and featuring artwork by Matt Baker, sold for $18,750 at a Comic Books Sale held February 3 by PBA Galleries in Berkeley, California. Also, a copy of Crime Patrol #15, graded CGC 4.0, featuring the first Crypt Keeper story, changed hands for $9,375; a copy of Horrific #3, graded CGC 6.0, earned $5,312; a copy of Weird Mysteries #5, graded CGC 2.5, realized $6,875; and a copy of Mister Mystery #11, graded CGC 6.0, achieved $5,937.

Patek Philippe wristwatch, $229,000, Kodner Galleries

A Patek Philippe Nautilus 5990/1A-001 men’s wristwatch sold for $229,000 at a Valentine’s Day auction held February 9 by Kodner Galleries in Dania Beach, Florida. Also, a Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A-001 men’s wristwatch slipped onto a new wrist for $181,500; an AGL 35.60-carat Ceylon sapphire brooch realized $78,650; a pair of fancy yellow diamond and platinum earrings achieved $66,500; and an EGL-certified 5.02-carat diamond engagement ring brought $60,500.


View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: