From Bing to Barbie: American, Japanese, and European toys at Morphy Feb. 14-16

DENVER, Pa. – It’s toy time at Morphy Auctions, where 1,425 lots of top-notch toys and collectibles will be auctioned on Wednesday, February 14, Thursday, February 15, and Friday, February 16. Virtually every popular toy category is represented in the auction lineup, from classics such as pressed-steel automotive, European tin windups, and cast-iron mechanical banks, to modern-era and vintage favorites such as postwar Japanese tin, Barbies, and Star Wars collectibles.

More than 100 banks will cross the auction block on Day 1 and Day 2, including 56 cast-iron mechanicals. Many favorites by J. & E. Stevens of Cromwell, Connecticut are at the forefront. A near-mint ‘Bad Accident’ bank with bright colors and 97% of its paint retains its original wood factory box and is estimated at $4,000-$8,000; while an excellent-plus Boy Scout Camp bank with its original flag is estimated at $3,000-$6,000. The highest-estimated Stevens mechanical, at $10,000-$15,000, is a near-mint ‘Called Out’ mechanical bank, which has a sentry theme and was assembled from very rare bronze patterns.

Bing is represented within the sale’s approximately 50 European toy lots. A Bing Keiser Wilhelm 40in clockwork tin ocean liner with four stacks is mostly original and has 10 lifeboats. In excellent condition, it is guided by a $3,000-$5,000 estimate.

Lehmann, another revered German producer of tin toys, based many of their most popular designs on actual people Ernst Paul Lehmann encountered in everyday life or during his travels. His only purported self-indulgence was in creating the wonderful flywheel toy known as ‘Walking Down Broadway’ or, alternatively, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Lehmann’ or ‘Lehmann Family.’ It depicts a well-dressed couple out for a stroll with their pug dog on a leash. The sale features a VG-near mint example of this scarce and early toy with its original box bottom and an original pictorial label fastened to a newer lid. The estimate is $2,000-$4,000.

The train category includes productions by American Flyer, Ives, and Lionel, among others. Leading the 85-lot selection of Lionels is a prewar O-gauge Mickey Mouse Circus Train set with accessories, including all 12 of the original tickets, windup key, and a brochure showing the set for sale for $2. In excellent condition, the set is estimated at $4,000-$8,000.

In the Japanese toy category, the sale includes an Alps battery-operated Missile Robot. Pristine and appearing unused, the 15in robot is fully intact, with its dish antenna and original box with cardboard inserts. Missile Robot will step into the spotlight with a $3,000-$6,000 estimate.

Another stellar example of postwar Japanese toy excellence is a scarce lithographed-tin #98 Champion Racer. Measuring 18.5in in length, the friction-powered open racer with helmeted driver is graded excellent to near-mint and estimated at $2,000-$4,000.

The sports memorabilia category is led by an ultra-rare BBCE-authenticated 1976/’77 Topps ‘Hockey’ wax case containing four factory-sealed wax boxes. Each box contains 36 sealed 15¢ bubble gum picture-card packs. “Collectors rarely have the opportunity to acquire factory-sealed boxes of this type,” said Morphy’s Toys & Trains Department Head Tommy Sage Jr. “Morphy’s has a strong following for sports cards, especially since our auction one year ago of an unopened 1952 Topps baseball brick, which sold for $873,300. We expect a lot of interest in this outstanding Hockey wax box, which is estimated at $12,000-$16,000.”

To pop culture fans, there is no Barbie doll more desirable than the 1959 example known as blonde ponytail #850. Morphy’s will offer a very good original and boxed example of the #850 wearing the iconic black-and-white striped swimsuit and with clean original earrings. Accompanied by its stand, booklet, and a nice variety of extra clothing, accessories, and shoes, the lot is estimated at $2,000-$5,000.

Triumph of tinplate: Prewar Lionel steamed to great results at Harris

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RENO, Nev. — Founded in 1900, Lionel electric trains have been a family tradition for generations, preserved and passed along like the family heirlooms they are. A major collection of both Lionel prewar and postwar (referring to World War II) came to auction at Harris Toy Train Auctions November 10 with very strong prewar performances. Complete results are available at LiveAuctioneers.

Debuting in 1929 for the Central of New Jersey, the Blue Comet was an express passenger service between Jersey City and Atlantic City. Lionel’s model followed a year later, issued in Standard gauge, a large, heavy format fashioned from painted and plated steel and brass. The expensive electric train sets sold well and were cherished by their owners; it’s not uncommon to find examples today in nearly new condition. The Harris sale had one such example, complete with original boxes, originally and unrealistically estimated at $20-$100. It hammered for a more realistic $6,600 ($8,100 with buyer’s premium).

Lionel collectors love rarity and condition, and this Lionel no. 024 operating device for a no. 313 bascule bridge department store display delivered on both. Rarely seen because it was cataloged solely for use with even more rare commercial displays (strategically placed at urban department stores that carried and sold Lionel products), the controller was estimated at — yes, again, $20-$100 — but hammered at $3,800 ($4,700 with buyer’s premium).

Lionel was an early licensee of Walt Disney Studios, offering a number of items in the 1930s. This clockwork (wind-up) Mickey Mouse circus train from circa 1935 included three lithographed tin cars featuring Disney characters and a complete cardstock ‘circus’ big-top background designed by Disney artists for Lionel. It sold for $1,850 ($2,275 with buyer’s premium).

Lionel plots were small, factory-built scenic components with lighted tin houses and hedges and trees. The plots conveyed a more finished look to floor or tabletop setups of Lionel trains without requiring permanent construction, but their extreme fragility meant that almost none survived in good condition in a child’s hands. This large no. 198 plot, from the no. 199 set of plots, was in very good condition and went to a new home for $3,100 ($3,800 with buyer’s premium).
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Lionel Blue Comet passenger set, which sold for $6,600 ($8,100 with buyer’s premium) at Harris Toy Train Auctions.
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Lionel no. 024 operating device for a no. 313 bascule bridge department store display, which sold for $3,800 ($4,700 with buyer’s premium) at Harris Toy Train Auctions.
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Lionel Mickey Mouse circus train, which sold for $1,850 ($2,275 with buyer’s premium) at Harris Toy Train Auctions.
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Lionel no. 198 plot, which sold for $3,100 ($3,800 with buyer’s premium) at Harris Toy Train Auctions.
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Lionel racing set, which sold for $2,300 ($2,800 with buyer’s premium) at Harris Toy Train Auctions.
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Popeye And Olive Oyl Tank rolls to world-record $105K at Milestone toy auction

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. Sold for a world record auction price of $105,000 against its pre-sale estimate of $30,000-$40,000

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – Popeye toys haven’t seen an appreciable downturn in the collector marketplace at any point in the past 25 years. In keeping with that trend, vintage toys depicting the punchy sailor were “strong to the finich” at Milestone Auctions’ April 9 Antique Toy Spectacular, which grossed $650,000. Powering its way to the top of prices realized, a Linemar Popeye And Olive Oyl Tank with its original pictorial box sold for an astonishing $105,000, a new world auction record for a Popeye toy.

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