If anyone wondered whether new collectors were still entering the antique toy hobby or not, they got their answer last spring when Milestone Auctions
closed the books on their headline-making Antique Toy Spectacular. Toy fans worldwide are still buzzing about the Popeye and Olive Oyl Tank that brought a record $105,000 at that sale. On September 24, Milestone will roll out a fresh offering of outstanding vintage toys from the Mark Smith Collection, with high-quality additions from other consignors.
The 755-lot auction includes virtually all of the most desired categories, including: motorcycles, racers, Japanese tin friction sports cars, American cast-iron, tin and pressed-steel vehicles (including early Buddy L and Keystone productions); German and Japanese postwar battery-op cars, construction, military and character toys; antique and vintage bicycles; and antique pedal cars. Many of the toys retain their crisp and colorful original boxes. The sale also features an impressive lineup of gas-powered tether racers, cast-iron mechanical banks, trains, a large fleet of boats (many boxed), several steam engines, Britains soldiers, and for robot fans, a coveted Marx Big Loo.
If theres one term that appears consistently in the catalog descriptions, its all original, said Milestone co-owner Miles King. And that applies to even the earliest of items, like the pedal cars and bicycles. I think collectors are going to be very pleased.
A multitude of buying opportunities will be available to those who favor Japanese and German vehicular toys of the 1950s and 60s, with many of the best brands represented, e.g., Bandai, Marusan, Distler and Marklin. Some of the top Japanese examples include a 10½-inch-long Bandai tin battery-operated Ferrari gear-shift car, which is in working order and has its original box; and a sleek, red SSS tin friction Mercedes-Benz 300SL convertible, also accompanied by its original pictorial box. Both toys are in fully original condition and carry individual estimates of $200-$400.
Fourteen Distler cars replicating Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar models are led by a boxed, battery-operated Electro Matic 7500 Porsche. It is all original and complete, with a clean battery box. Estimate: $300-$500.
More than a dozen elusive gas-powered tether racers will be offered. Theyre sure to attract strong interest because of the specialtys widespread and loyal following. In the early days of the hobby, before such cars were raced on tracks, they would be raced one at a time while tethered to a pole, hence the name tether racers, Miles King explained. These cars are real thrillers. Racing them is about as close as you can get to feeling like youre a professional driver without actually being behind the wheel.
The selection includes examples at a variety of price points. An original 21-inch-long silver Duesenberg #7 gas-powered tether racer in wonderful original condition, complete with its engine, is estimated at $4,000-$6,000. An 18-inch-long Hiller Comet gas-powered tether racer with original paint, motor and correct Hiller Comet decal is expected to reach the $1,000-$1,500 range at auction.
Pressed steel collectors are in for a treat. More than two dozen toys made by the legendary Keene, New Hampshire, manufacturer Kingsbury are included in the auction. There are roadsters, town cars, limousines, racers, fire trucks and more. An especially hard-to-find Kingsbury clockwork wrecker in all original condition, finished in an eye-catching orange-and-black color scheme, is expected to make $1,000-$1,500.
One of the highlight categories of the sale is pedal cars and other pedal vehicles, e.g., airplane, tractor, etc. Leading the lineup is a posh American National Deluxe Coupe pedal car. This particular pedal car was a top-of-the-line luxury model in its day. It would only have been driven by a child from a very wealthy family, King observed. It has opening doors, sliding windows, a dashboard with simulated gauges, and interior upholstery and curtains. Measuring 68 inches long, it is estimated at $20,000-$40,000. Another noteworthy entry is a rare, early, all-original Gendron chain-drive pedal car with a steel body and wood radiator, tires and frame. It even retains its Gendron Wheel Co factory decal. Pre-sale estimate: $8,000-$12,000
Recalling the days when transportation was on two wheels, Milestone will present 10 antique and vintage bicycles, including two great rarities made by Fowler, a subsidiary of Hill Manufacturing Co, Chicago. An extremely rare 1890s racing bicycle known as The Fowler is in 100% original condition with a Fowler truss frame, under-slung handlebars, a leather and wicker-insert seat; and even a leather tool box. Its original black paint is adorned with gold Victorian-style accents. Estimate: $4,000-$6,000.
Fowler also produced ladies models, like the auctions rare 1890s bicycle in beautiful 100% original condition. It has a Fowler truss frame, leather seat with a wicker insert, cork grips, and a wood chain guard, rims and rear fender. Estimate: $2,000-$4,000