Old Town Auctions rings up a cool half million in May 11-12 'no-Internet' sale Matt Protos and Keith Spurgeon, co-founders of Old Town Auctions, scored audience approval with their May 11-12 toy auction in Hagerstown. Billed as a “no-Internet” event, the auction attracte
News-Antique.com - May 31,2007 - HAGERSTOWN, Md. – Matt Protos and Keith Spurgeon, co-founders of Old Town Auctions, scored audience approval with their May 11-12 toy auction in Hagerstown. Billed as a “no-Internet” event, the auction attracted around 175 live bidders as well as many absentee and phone bids. The sale did not feature online bidding in any form.
“We had people participating from New Zealand, Franc, Holland, England, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Italy,” Spurgeon said. “The Europeans were looking for bargains, while the Australians were probably the best in terms of serious bidding.”
Spurgeon described the sale as “a great success,” noting that the gross exceeded $500,000. “Some amazing prices were paid, and there were also some very good deals. Right now we’re very busy with post-auction follow-ups, finishing up the absentee and phone-bid billing, and organizing the packing and shipping.”
Top toy lots included a 1920s prewar Japanese tin clown horse trainer with circling horse, $6,050 (all prices quoted are inclusive of 10 percent buyer’s premium); an all-original hand-painted German Ferris wheel by Heino Becker, $5,500; a near-mint/boxed Topsy Turvy Tom clown car by Hans Eberle, $5,500; and a Gunthermann hand-painted clown musician trio on a bench, $4,675. An American-made Marx circa-1925 Cirko the Clown – possibly the only known boxed version – sold for $3,850.
“The vast majority of the clowns stayed in America; almost none went overseas,” said Spurgeon. “Many of the buyers were known collectors, but one person whom I didn’t know came up to me on Friday night and expressed disappointment about not getting any of the clowns that had been offered in the Friday session. I said that there were many more clowns coming up on Saturday, including some of the very best examples. This person ended up spending $50,000 on clowns.”
A collection of 50 toy land speed cars put in a stellar performance, with a 20-inch-long boxed Gunthermann Bluebird crossing the finish line at $7,700. A rare boxed English Bluebird, 11 inches long, took the checkered flag at $4,400; and a Bakelite Golden Arrow car by the English maker Ranlite sped to a $2,860 finish. “We couldn’t believe the prices on the land speed cars,” said Spurgeon. “Most of this collection was built over the last 30 years with the help of British dealers, but the heaviest interest came from Australians, who left very strong bids but unfortunately still didn’t win the toys.”
The sale also featured some outstanding antique advertising. A complete and near life-size four-piece Sealy Mattress store display from 1918 with a black Americana theme earned $2,200; and a scarce tin Moxie beverage sign in superb condition bubbled to $4,675. Coca-Cola entries were topped by a 1930s Brunhoff illuminating countertop display at $9,350; and a seven-piece porcelain outdoor sign, made in 1934 and found in a local attic in original fine condition, brought $1,650. An excellent Gem Razor countertop store display featuring a man shaving as he rocks his baby on one knee was a smooth seller at $3,850.