News-Antique.com - Apr 09,2007 - Skinner, one of the nation's leading
auction houses, today announced the results of its Science & Technology and
Toys & Dolls auction, held on March 24th at Skinner's Boston gallery. The
sale featured 650-plus lots of science and technology, 260 lots of dolls
and dolls accessories, and more than 80 lots of toys. Sales totaled more
Automatons Rule the Sale
The day's best seller was a Henry Phalibois Coin-Operated Automaton of
a Headless Magician. With a pre-auction estimate of $25,000 -- $30,000, the
piece sold for an astounding $193,000.00. Featuring a magician whose head
vanishes from his shoulders while simultaneously re-appearing inside of a
box, the automaton was aggressively pursued by several online bidders. The
magician's "trick" may have been inspired by the performances of Georges
Melies (1861-1938), French film-maker, illusionist, and owner of the most
popular magic venue in Paris, who pioneered the use of the trick shot.
At a distant, the auction's third highest sale was for that of a Rare
Automaton of a Louisiana Black Smoker by Vichy, which fetched $105,000.00.
The pre-sale auction estimate was set at $70,000 -- $90,000. The Louisiana
Black Smoker is Vichy's largest and most elaborate smoker and one of only
two Vichy automata to portray American characters.
Miniature Tools Land Big Bucks
An exhibition-standard collection of ninety-eight working miniature
tools bench-built by Joseph Larger, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, between
1900 and 1939, sold for $16,450.00, more than twice its pre-sale estimate
high of $8,000. All of the tools are working replicas of their full size
equivalents. Larger began creating the tools in 1900 and was to continue
working on them for the rest of his life; the vice, for example, took 150
hours to complete. Some of the tools reflect Larger's career working in a
Youngstown steel mill, but most are just tools that appealed to his sense
of scale and precision, like a reel-type lawn mower and a Stanley-style
carpenter's plane. Accompanying the lot was a small collection of period
newspaper articles including one which claims the creator turned down an
offer of the then considerable sum of $3,000 from Mr. Wrigley of chewing
Civil War Medical Equipment Brings in Healthy Bids
The auction featured a collection from C. Keith Wilbur, M.D., author of
Antique Medical Instruments (1987) and Civil War Medicine (1998). The
collection represents the most comprehensive medical collection to have
been sold at auction in the U.S. in recent years. Dr. Wilbur's first
experience with antique medical instruments came when a patient from Hadley
gifted him an historic trepanning set that had seen, according to family
legend, use in the Civil War. This Civil War Trepanning Set by H.
Hernstein, designed for drilling a hole into the skull to expose the dura
mater for treatment of intracranial diseases, was originally owned by Dr.
Viles of Lowell, Massachusetts, and retailed for $11. The pre-sale estimate
of $1,000 -- $1,500 was shattered by a sale price of $11,162.50.
Another blockbuster item from the medical