Morphy’s To Auction Key Pieces From War Hero’s Toy Aircraft Collection May 11-12 Sale items from the collection will include a 1930s Britains Short Bros. flying boat monoplane with original box, a number of Hubley cast iron examples form the 1920s and prewar German tin planes incl
News-Antique.com - Apr 11,2012 - A man of many talents, Geoffrey Randolph Webster – “GR” to his friends – is a retired businessman, author and portrait painter who divides his time between Florida and the idyllic French Riviera. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in business and retired as president and CEO of Givaudan Fragrances Inc., after a 30-year career in international business and marketing.
But those distinctions are by no means all of the laurels to which GR can lay claim. He was also a highly decorated Vietnam War pilot who received 30 Air Medals, double Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Air Medal for Valor; as well as the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and two Awards of the Cross of Gallantry as commander of the “Mustang” Gunship Platoon of the 68th Assault Helicopter Company’s “Top Tigers.” When friends say GR’s head is in the clouds, it’s a compliment.
“Whether airplane, seaplane or helicopter, GR is the person you would want to have at the helm if you were a passenger,” said Tom Sage Jr., chief operating officer of Morphy Auctions, which will sell Webster’s American cast-iron and selected British, Continental and Japanese planes on May 11 and 12.
GR’s fascination for airplanes – which began during childhood as the son of a naval pilot – led to his amassing one of the world’s largest and finest collections of aviation toys and models.
Webster documented portions of his collection in the 2009 book Collecting Vintage Aircraft Toys and again in a 2011 edition titled Dinky Toys Aircraft 1934-1979 [with co-authors Sir George Cox, John Beugels]. The latter is the only reference book available that focuses specifically on Dinky aeronautical toys.
Many of the planes that served as actual book examples are among the Webster toys to be auctioned at Morphy’s. The top prize amongst the aircraft offered is the ultra-rare 1930s Britains Short Bros. Monoplane Flying Boat with original box. One of only three known to exist, the Bakelite and heavy tin plane is also the only example to be offered for public sale in the last 30 years.
“James Opie, who authored the premier guide on Britains soldiers, rates this toy at the top of rarity for Britains,” said Sage. “We think GR’s book example, which is estimated at $12,000 to $16,000, might even reach $20,000.”
Additionally, two Britains monoplanes are included in the sale – one in red and the other in yellow – with a historically correct 1930s star-in-circle insignia. Each is estimated at around $1,500.
A fleet of iconic 1920s cast-iron aviation toys is led by a Hubley America, the largest cast-iron plane ever made. There’s also a massive Hubley Friendship float plane with Amelia Earhart’s silhouette in one window; a Spirit of St. Louis, and numerous other period cast-iron tri-motors and gliders.
A highly unusual auction entry is Hubley’s 1937 cast-iron prototype Bell Airacuda with its original box. The twin-engine plane has a gunner in front of each engine on the wings.