Punch cigar store figure (circa 1885) soars to $37,290 at Philip Weiss Auctions A rare Punch cigar store advertising figure, cast in zinc and made around 1885 by William Demuth & Company, Mfrs., knocked down for $37,290 at a estate sale held March 1-3 by Philip Weiss Auctions.
News-Antique.com - Mar 09,2012 - (OCEANSIDE, N.Y.) – A rare Punch cigar store advertising figure, cast in zinc and made around 1885 by William Demuth & Company, Mfrs. (N.Y.) knocked down for $37,290 at a massive three-day estate sale held March 1-3 by Philip Weiss Auctions, in the firm’s gallery facility located at #1 Neil Court in Oceanside. The Punch figure was the top lot of the auction.
William Demuth (1835-1911), a native of Germany, arrived in the U.S. at age 16 as a penniless immigrant. He found work as a clerk with a tobacco tradesman in New York City and in 1862 he established his own company, the William Demuth Company. The firm specialized in pipes, canes, cigar-store figures and other carved objects. All these are highly collectible today.
The Punch figures, though, are especially coveted by collectors. They came about when Demuth formed a partnership in 1883 with Moritz Seelig, a Brooklyn foundry operator, who crafted the figures for Demuth out of wood and metal. One Punch figure sold at auction in 2008 for $207,000. The example just sold would have brought more had it not been made into a lamp.
Also offered in the sale were items pertaining to the doomed ocean liner Titanic. A two-page letter typed on White Star Line stationery by Charles Herbert Lightoller, a survivor of the disaster, brought $15,820, while a first-class deck plan of the ship realized $4,294. A two-page letter handwritten aboard the Titanic by a passenger who perished failed to make the reserve bid.
The Lightoller letter was dated May 1, 1912, a couple of weeks after the Titanic sank, and carried his bold signature at the end, plus a pen correction. It was written aboard another ship – the Adriatic – and in it, he went into great detail about the last hours alive of John E. Simpson, an assistant surgeon on the Titanic. It was Simpson’s letter that failed to make the reserve bid.
The first-class deck plan, titled First Class Accommodation and given to passengers to help them find their way around the ship, measured 40 inches by 29 ½ inches and was in overall excellent condition, with just a few tiny seam tears. It was from a second printing, dated Jan. 6, 1912. The plan showed a detailed layout of all the decks, plus illustrations of the various rooms.
The auction was impressive in terms of size (1,600 lots offered over three days), scope (a wide array of categories represented) and gross (which topped the $500,000 mark). March 1 had sports-related items, non-sports cards, comics and comic art; March 2 featured transportation, militaria, historical, posters and circus items; and March 3 offered toys, trains and toy soldiers.
“It was a very active sale, with lots of Internet bidding and enthusiastic bidders in the room,” said Philip Weiss, who estimated around 300 people attended the event live, while about 800 bidders registered online (through Proxibid.com). He added, “We were pleased that the low to medium-end toys did so well, with 98