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.
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.
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: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/
WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – There’s no great mystery as to why vintage toys are so popular with collectors. They’re colorful, they’re fun, and they invariably prompt the comment so familiar to auctioneers and toy dealers: “Wow! I had one of those when I was a kid!” One of Milestone Auctions’ specialties is antique and vintage toys, and the nostalgia factor that drives today’s prices for clean, crisp vintage toys is something they witness at each of their sales, including their January 29 Winter Antique Toy Spectacular that took in just under half a million dollars.
NEW YORK — Given the enduring fascination with science fiction and space travel, it’s no surprise that collectors ardently pursue space-themed toys. The trifecta of this category comprises toy ray guns, spaceships and robots with a common denominator being the action of these toys, many of them battery-operated. Glowing red or flashing “laser” lights along with popping, clicking or whirring sounds add to the fun.
WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – Antique and vintage toys played a major role in Milestone Auctions’ success in 2021. Their October 2nd toy event rocketed to $768,000, a house record for the suburban Cleveland, Ohio, company. Milestone is on track to keep that positive momentum going in 2022 with an 867-lot Winter Antique Toy Spectacular on January 29, which offers absentee or Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.
WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – Antique toy enthusiasts love nothing more than to discover the earliest iterations of whatever specialty they collect, and on October 2nd at Milestone Auctions in suburban Cleveland it was both Marx and motorcycle fans who hit the jackpot. The 704-lot auction, which was almost exclusively devoted to a single-owner collection, featured 138 super-clean bikes, including two American Marx prototypes that tied for top-lot honors at $22,800 apiece. Each had been estimated at $6,000-$8,000.
Intense competition pushed Marx prototype motorcycles to top of prices realized
A throng of determined bidders competed from both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, pushing the sale total to $768,000. It was the highest-grossing toy auction in Milestone’s history.
“There was huge interest in many categories, but most especially the motorcycles, which represented scores of manufacturers from Germany, Spain, Japan, Italy, Russia and the USA. Absentee and opening bids were insane, right off the bat,” said Milestone Auctions co-owner Chris Sammet. “The Marx prototype bikes were Speedboy 4 military-themed windups, finished in the distinctive colors of early Marx toys and with hand-painted details. One had a rear-mounted cannon and the other had a camouflage-patterned box on the back. We started getting calls about them a good month before the sale. There was no doubt they were going to fly.”
The high quality of post-WWII Japanese motorcycles was evident in the sharp-looking 12-inch-long friction-powered motorcycle known as “Romance.” Lithographed in a rainbow of pleasing colors with an image of the planet Saturn on the gas tank, the bike is operated by a helmeted and goggled male driver, with a female passenger also along for the ride. In working order and all original, it sold for $5,640 against an estimate of $2,000-$3,000.
Perhaps the “sleeper” of the section was a much smaller Japanese tin friction production identified on its box label as “Hunter-Motor Cycle.” Although only 4½ inches long, the bike is amazingly well detailed and was complete, down to its attached rifle and the fowl enclosed in a net at the back. In like-new condition with its excellent factory box, the diminutive bike zipped off to a new owner for $3,840, more than six times the high estimate.
Following closely behind the Marx prototype motorcycles at the top of prices realized was a good-looking Marx (USA) Blondie and Dagwood Family Car that never made it into production. Finished in a rich blue with red, yellow and gold accents, the windup open car included figures of Dagwood at the wheel with Blondie and their son Alexander sharing the passenger seat. This coveted prototype commanded $16,200 against an estimate of $4,000-$6,000.
Transportation toys held their own throughout the sale, no matter what type of transportation they happened to depict. A terrific example of a Japanese tin friction Atom-Car #153, 15½ inches long, retained its original driver figure and rare box. It easily swept pasts its estimate range to settle at $5,400.
On the other hand, there was a Strauss (USA) tin windup “Santee Claus,” with the holiday gift-giver looking jaunty in his decorative sleigh pulled by a pair of belled, leaping reindeer. Measuring 11 inches long and offered with its excellent Christmas-themed box, it dashed away for $6,000 – four times the high estimate.
A visual extravaganza, a Distler (Germany) tin windup set known as “Pinched!” re-enacts a police chase in the countryside. When activated, a motorcycle cop pursues a speeding automobile around a platform amid scenery that includes mountains, farmland, railroad trestles and more. The setting is also illustrated on the box that accompanied the toy, which sold above estimate for $6,900.
An extensive 86-lot array of Lehmann (Germany) windup and flywheel toys crossed the auction block, many of them retaining their original boxes. A fine example of the tin windup “Boxer Rebellion” toy – inspired by the Boxer secret society that was active during the Chinese rebellion of 1899-1901 – was offered with an estimate of $10,000-$15,000.
All original, complete and in excellent working order, it rose to $17,400. Also selling above estimate was a handsome Lehmann tin windup Halloh motorcycle that appeared seldom, if ever, to have been taken out of its original pictorial box. It crossed the finish line at $6,900.
Of unknown German manufacture, a 17-inch-long hand-painted composition cat skittles set consisted of a large striped-cat vessel in which seven smaller cat skittles were housed. Rolling along on cast-iron wheels, the fabulous feline pounced on a winning bid of $16,200 against an estimate of $1,000-$1,500.
The 713-lot auction attracted so many absentee, phone and Internet bids that it ran nearly 12 hours from start to finish. The great success it achieved was not without its challenges, however. The day before the auction, the hosting company Milestone uses for its own online bidding platform was hit by a ransomware attack that affected many industries, from aerospace to transportation, agriculture to publishing.
“The timing was bad, but in our business, you learn to have a contingency plan in place, which we always do,” said Milestone co-owner and auctioneer Miles King. “Fortunately, we always use two other bidding platforms — including LiveAuctioneers — in addition to our own, so Internet bidders were not left out. The biggest challenge was in notifying bidders about the situation, on short notice. Just about everyone who wanted to bid was able to do so, and we were grateful for that. The bottom line is, collectors were not going to sit back and miss out on a collection as great as the one we were selling just because of a technology problem. They wanted those toys.”
WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – Collectors of rare antique and vintage toys – whether manufactured in Europe, Japan or the USA – are in for a treat on Saturday, October 2nd. That’s when Milestone Auctions of suburban Cleveland, Ohio, will present its Fall Antique Toy Spectacular starring one of the most diverse collections of fine toys ever amassed. With the exception of a few select additions from other consignors, the 704-lot auction is devoted exclusively to the marquee collection, whose superlative holdings are a testament to decades of searching and networking within the toy hobby. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Featured: 138 rare toy motorcycles, 117 Lehmann & Gunthermann windups, George Brown masterpiece + museum-quality Ives toys, Marx prototypes, character toys
WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – Even the best-connected toy buyers in Europe surely would have been surprised by the contents of the Margaret and Joel Weissman antique toy collection, which was offered by Milestone Auctions on June 26. The couple’s beautiful assemblage of German, French and English toys included examples of clockwork and hand-painted toys; automobiles, boats, airplanes, go-rounds and penny toys that are seldom seen on either side of the Atlantic. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.