African tribal art, fresh-to-market collections of toys and more featured in Dan Morphy’s May 13-15

From: Chuck Miller Creative Writing Service
Published: Thu Apr 08 2010

In what will be one of the company’s largest sales to date, Dan Morphy Auctions will offer 3,000 lots of antiques from fresh-to-market collections in a May 13-15, 2010 Spring sale. Morphy’s will enter exciting new territory with its offering of more than 300 lots of authentic African tribal art from a 40-year collection amassed by an Ohio private collector.

Among many other featured categories, the auction will also contain 300 lots of advertising and coin-operated machines, 250 examples of fine and decorative art, 70 lots of napkin rings, part III of the Pat and Lowell Wagner steam toy/steam engine collection, and an outstanding collection of rare occupational shaving mugs. Additionally, the toy section will incorporate 70 dolls, 30 mechanical banks and 300 lots of early Mattel Hot Wheels vehicles – one of the largest groupings of its type to reach the auction marketplace.

Following tradition, the auction will open with a fine selection of marbles. The 60-lots to be sold include a boxed set of 25 Christensen agate "Guinea" marbles, estimated at $8,000-$12, 000, and many handmade onionskins, Lutzes and sulphides. Top sulphide lots include a painted number "3" and a tricolor painted rooster.

The extensive collection of African art was cataloged by noted specialist dealer and appraiser Oumar Keinde. Keinde confirmed that all of the art in the sale was carved in Africa and is geared mostly toward entry-level buyers or those who wish to decorate their homes or offices with collectible original tribal art. "These items are mostly from the period between1950 and the late 20th century, and are known as ‘original replacements.’ If they were the early originals, they would cost 30 to 50 times as much and would be in museums. While the items in the auction are primarily meant to be decorative, they are still original African artworks and are very collectible." Keinde noted that the most important articles in the sale include a pair of Central African Songeye shrine artifacts, $5,000-$6,000; a Central African Luba Shankadi mask from Zaire, $2,800-$3,500; a West African Dogon post depicting a couple, $2,400-$2,800; and a West African Bambara warrior shrine piece, $2,800-$3,500. Keinde estimates that 90 percent of the collection consists of African masks, figurines, shrine statues and other artifacts.

A grouping of 60+ timepieces is led by a circa-1870 French bronze enamel clock, $2,500-$3,500; and a large octagonal time-and-strike clock, $2,000-$3,000. Immediately following will be a lineup of more than 40 music boxes plus a large selection of cylinder boxes and phonographs with original horns. The star lot is a Regina 15¾-inch double-comb bow-front automatic changer, which is expected to make $12,000-$15,000.

Next up will be lighting, featuring 15 slag-glass and 20 student lamps; followed by a fine grouping of more than 70 silver figural napkin rings. "This is a very nice assortment – the cream of the crop from two napkin ring collections," said Morphy Auctions’ CEO, Dan Morphy.

Fine antique dolls await bidders in the Spring Sale, among them a Jumeau fashion poupee peau, $1,500-$3,000; two desirable Lenci boudoir dolls, estimated at $1,500-$2,500 each, and a doll with jointed wood body and original bun hairdo, $1,500-$2,500.

A wide variety of antique advertising will cross the auction block, including approximately 100 complete sets of English tobacco collector cards, presented in sheets and in near-mint-plus condition. A large assortment of other tobacciana items will be presented, including many pocket tins. The latter category is highlighted by a Torpedo tin estimated at $1,400-$1,800; Lenox, $1,000-$1,500; and Mastiff, $600-$900. Additional smoking-related items include cast-iron cigar cutters, match holders and "go to beds," which were made to accommodate the late-night smoker and often feature amusing motifs, such as skulls or the character Punch.

An occupational shaving mug collection described by Dan Morphy as "one of the best collections to hit the market in a long time" contains around 50 mugs, many of which are featured in reference books. The centerpiece of the collection is a mug that belonged to early 20th-century athlete Ed Farrell, who played with the Giants, Braves, Cardinals and Cubs before leaving to earn his dental degree. "Later, he decided to return to baseball and in 1932 signed on with the New York Yankees," Morphy said.

Coin-op collectors will want to test their strength with the "Spear the Dragon" machine. Other machines in beautiful condition include Monkey Lift and Fortune Teller. Perhaps the rarest piece in the coin-op category is a handsome steam-driven popcorn machine that is one of only five known.

Morphy’s chief operating officer Tom Sage Jr., an expert on postwar toys, said the collection of 300 Mattel Hot Wheels and other die-cast vehicles to be auctioned is "old store stock – items that were bought new and kept in a storage center until this year. The person who originally bought the toys never sold anything. There’s an original Redline car and many blue-carded cars that are worth up to $300 or more per car." In total, the 300 die-cast lots in the sale contain as many as 10,000 toy vehicles.

Collectors of early steam toys have been well accommodated with parts I and II of the Pat and Lowell Wagner collection, previously auctioned by Morphy’s, but more outstanding goods from the Wagner trove will become available in the May sale, as part III crosses the auction block. All of the premium names will be represented: Marklin, Plank, Bing Schonner and Carette. Key lots include a Doll et Cie open tourer live-steam auto, $4,000-$6,000; and a Marklin No. 4147 ship steam engine, $3,500-$5,000.

The general toy section includes a Captain Marvel 4-car set with original box, $4,000-$6,000; a Marx Snappy the Happy Bubble-Blowing Dragon in original box, $2,000-$4,000; a large assortment of Marx, Linemar and Arcade toys; and 20 pressed-steel toys by such makers as Keystone, Metalcraft and Buddy ‘L.’’ More than 100 lots of Marx trucks in near-mint to mint condition from one of the Marx warehouses are a bonus inclusion, as is a small collection of 30 Japanese toy cars in original boxes. The latter grouping includes Cadillacs, Chevrolets and a beautiful Flowers station wagon, all in near-mint-plus condition.

Drop a penny into any of the 30 cast-iron mechanical banks on offer and receive an entertaining visual surprise in return. The array of money boxes to be auctioned includes a Jonah and the Whale on pedestal bank that came from its original owner, estimate $20,000-$30,000. Other figural cast iron highlights include a Mermaid lawn sprinkler and a 100-item specialty collection of appealing Scotty dog items designed to function as bookends, doorstops and paperweights.

All forms of bidding will be available in Dan Morphy’s May 13-15 Spring Auction, including live via the Internet – see Morphy Web site for details, For additional information, call 717-335-3435 or e-mail
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