Punch cigar store figure smokes to $207,000 finish in Morphy's $2.6 million Spring Toy Auction A spectacular circa-1885 Wm. Demuth Punch cigar store advertising figure blazed past its presale estimate to knock down $207,000 in Morphy's $2.6 million Spring Toy Auction.
News-Antique.com - May 04,2008 - DENVER, Pa. – Condition was king across the board in Morphy’s $2.6 million Spring Toy Auction, with a battle royal waged for premier examples of early American toys and folk art. The April 4-5 sale was topped by a spectacular circa-1885 William Demuth & Co. smoking Punch cigar advertising figure, which blazed past its presale estimate to knock down $207,000 (all prices quoted include 15 percent buyer’s premium).
Many areas of strength were evident, according to Morphy’s chief operating officer, Dan Morphy. “We were especially pleased with the early American bell toys,” Morphy said. “Some came with provenance from the L.C. Hegarty collection, one of the finest toy collections ever assembled. Those particular toys were in great demand.” Standouts in the group included a Merriam 15-inch cast-iron and tin depiction of a boy standing on a belled platform pulled by a horse. In near-mint condition, it achieved $47,150, nearly twice its high estimate. Another bell toy, a J. & E. Stevens 7½ inch cast-iron rarity known as the “Baby Quieter,” more than tripled expectations to earn $27,600. The toy’s name comes from its depiction of a father reclining on a couch with baby rattle in hand, reading a newspaper as he balances his baby on one leg.
Morphy reported the “strongest turnout ever” for antique and vintage marbles. “The section did fantastically well,” he said. “We had 30 people here bidding live, with another 20 online and 10 on the phones. That’s really impressive for such a narrow collecting niche. There were six marbles that brought more than $5,000 apiece.” The star of the category was a monumental 1-9/16 inch Indian Mag Lite marble with deep cobalt-blue coloration and crisp outer bands in a rainbow of colors. In near-perfect condition, it rolled to $9,200 against an estimate of $4,000-$6,000.
Several examples of the coveted Kyser & Rex Roller Skating mechanical bank have come to auction over the past few years, but most collectors agree that the one in Morphy’s sale – with provenance from the L.C. Hegarty and Stanley Sax collections – trumped all others, condition wise. With its appealing action that propels skaters around the rink after a coin is deposited, the circa-1880s money box earned an above-estimate price of $184,000 in Morphy’s sale.
A wonderful selection of rare figural skittles (ninepins) sets was offered, many of them German made and of papier-mâché. A set of nine Steiff animal skittles with three original striped-wood balls scored a big strike, selling for $18,400 against an estimate of $1,000-$2,000. Following closely behind was a frog set comprised of seven smaller frogs in formal attire, housed inside a larger toad container on metal wheels. It leaped past its estimate to land at $17,800.
Vehicular toys are never short of suitors, especially the rare examples. There was no stopping a superb Carpenter cast-iron Tally-Ho coach pulled by a four-horse team. Exhibiting incredibly bright original paint, the 27-inch-long American classic ran full speed ahead to an $86,250 finish. Another cast-iron delight, a Hubley 1930s