John Coker’s Oct. 29-30 No-Reserve Auction Features Two Fresh, Long-Held Collections of Toys, Lunchb The Saturday auction contains more than 450 lots of toys and folk art. The Sunday auction features approximately 360 lunchboxes.
News-Antique.com - Oct 23,2011 - NEW MARKET, Tenn. – John W. Coker is a Tennessee auctioneer better known for his sales of fine and decorative art, but when the opportunity arose to handle two outstanding toy and lunchbox collections – each from a collector of 40+ years – he jumped at the chance. More than 100 cardboard boxes later, Coker knew he had the makings of a terrific auction, and one that toy collectors “would go crazy over.”
Coker’s 1,000-lot Oct. 29-30 event, which will be held at the company’s gallery near Knoxville, is 100% unreserved. “Whatever the high bid is, that’s what the toy, lunchbox or folk art item will sell for,” Coker said.
The Saturday, Oct. 29 session, which commences at 10 a.m. Eastern time, contains more than 450 lots of toys and folk art from the collection of a prominent Eastern Tennessee businessman who began collecting in the 1950s. Many of the toys were displayed at the consignor’s place of business; he always bought and never sold.
A featured highlight is the vast collection of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola advertising toys, many of them rare, early examples pictured in Petretti’s Coca-Cola Collectibles Price Guide. “There are more than 100 Coca-Cola toys, and all are different,” said Coker. “They’re across the board in terms of manufacturers – Metalcraft, Smith-Miller, Buddy ‘L’ – and there are many from foreign countries, including Spain (Paya), Germany, Mexico and Italy. There are also special-edition Christmas productions and wooden ones made during World War II. There are many that I have never seen before.”
The consignor recalled that the first toy he ever owned was a Metalcraft Shell Oil truck complete with wood barrels. “My daddy paid only one dollar – maybe less – for that toy. It made me appreciate the unusual, and that followed through in my collecting,” he said. The truck is included in the auction inventory.
The owner of the toys commented that the advertising trucks in the collection have never been polished, waxed or restored. “I kept them as original as possible, in ‘as-found’ condition,” he said. “Most of them have 85% or more of their original paint.”
The consignor’s brother-in-law once worked for Lionel, and through that connection, the collector was able to acquire several coveted train sets, including a rare Coca-Cola set and another branded for Ford Motor Co. that was available only to employees.
Additionally, there are die-cast advertising toys, two matchstick ships and a carved Noah’s Ark with figures. A rustic log farmhouse that took 10 years to make is so highly detailed, it even includes a gun over the mantel and a dog on the porch. It opens up and is accompanied by many additional accessories and outbuildings.
The consignor explained that many of his best pieces purchased over some 40 years came from Northern or Eastern dealers who traveled to the Mt. Dora show in Florida to escape winter weather. “They would come to sell, then they’d go fishing. They knew what I wanted and would bring along