YORK, Pa. – The gate was up – way up – at the Feb. 9 York Toy, Doll, Holiday & Advertising Show held at the York Fairgrounds Memorial Hall. Dealers reported excellent sales, toy buyers left with bags brimming with fresh finds, and when all was said and done, 650 shoppers had passed through the doors. This was increase of 300 people over last summer’s show, according to show manager Dan Morphy, and included more than 50 people who had paid $50 each for early buying privileges.
“It went great,” Morphy said. “The dealers were very pleased, and of course, this is what we had hoped for, since so many of them traveled long distances to sell here. One of the dealers, Gus Brown, told me it was the best show he had had in five years. Overall, we saw very positive signs that the hobby has gained both strength and new buyers.”
Collectors didn’t have to walk very far to find a dream selection of early 20th-century automotive toys. Vern Chamberlain, an internationally known toy dealer since 1979, had driven in from San Diego to set up his wares, which included a spiffy 1912 Carette clockwork tin limo with driver, in all-original condition. The 14-inch car was amazingly sophisticated, with forward, reverse and neutral gears, and was being offered complete with a period suitcase to tote on its roof. By his own admission, Vern is “fussy about condition.” A very nice example, the Carette was worth every penny of its $6,500 asking price.
Vern also displayed a coveted mechanical bank made by J. & E. Stevens and known as the Boy Scout Bank. It depicts a busy, well-detailed campsite with scouts cooking over an open pot beside a pitched tent. Price: $9,500.
Mike Karber had driven like a bat outta Chicago to get to the show. “I stayed ahead of the storm,” he said, referring to the powerful front that was barreling out of the Midwest toward America’s East Coast. Comic book and TV character collectors were glad Mike made the effort, as he had brought along some very rare and “crispy” 1960s Batman and Superman items. One of the best was a 1966 Mettoy (English) Batman Spin Dart Target game with original box. Mike had acquired it from an Italian source, and at the show he was asking $2,350.
“Batman stuff from the 1960s is really hot right now,” Mike said. “I was recently at a show in California and did phenomenally well with it. I think we’ll see another upsurge of interest when Hake’s sells the next installment of Craig Warren’s Batman collection. Generally when a famous collection comes up for sale, it creates a stir and there’s a follow-on effect in the market.”
Another rarity in Mike’s showcase was a Batman Utility Belt set, boxed with instructions and all original except for the rubber bands holding the pieces into place. The set had a very good chance of