Auctions: Philadelphia-area auctions offer trains and metal memorabilia

Tin Edison Mazda Lamps two-sided sign is expected to bring $2,000 to $4,000 at Morphy Auctions. The sign features artwork by Maxfield Parrish.
Tin Edison Mazda Lamps two-sided sign is expected to bring $2,000 to $4,000 at Morphy Auctions. The sign features artwork by Maxfield Parrish.
Posted: February 03, 2012

Three sales next week will offer items appealing to the metallurgically minded: a gold presentation trophy; a collection of brass model railroad trains, and advertising signs made of tin. Off to the smelters.

The gold presentation trophy is a highlight of Wiederseim Associates' Mid-Winter Antique Auction, beginning at 9 a.m. Feb. 11 at the Ludwig's Corner firehouse in Glenmoore. One of 650 lots in the sale, it is part of Wiederseim's continuing liquidation of the estate of the late John E. du Pont.

An inscription says it was presented to William L. Austin by the Baldwin Locomotive Works "in recognition and appreciation of sixty consecutive years of distinguished service August 7th 1870-1930." Austin, formerly Baldwin's president, was du Pont's maternal grandfather. (His estate became the retirement community Beaumont at Bryn Mawr.)

The eight-inch-high, 18-karat trophy weighs in at 1,331 grams (about 2 pounds, 15 ounces) according to the online catalog description accessible at - the main reason it has a presale price estimate of $40,000 to $50,000. "I hope it goes for more than melt," Ted Wiederseim said this week, referring to the trophy's worth in weight alone. "I'd cry in the auctioneer's stand if it didn't."

There is more gold from the du Pont estate, notably coins, including two $20 St. Gaudens gold pieces, from 1924 and 1926, from du Pont's collection of coins and currency. The two pieces are expected to bring $1,500 to $1,700 and $3,000 to $5,000.

A historic 1795 large cent characterized by a ridge edge and a figure of Liberty with flowing hair, graded 63 (out of 70) by the Professional Coin Grading Service, has a presale estimate of $7,500 to $9,000. A set of commemorative half-dollar state coins (missing Hawaii) is expected to bring $10,000 to $12,000.

Two other auction items of note were both consigned by so-called pickers. A rare 21-by-20-inch silk-on-linen sampler wrought by Caroline Sawyer, age 11, of Henniker, N.H., dated Aug. 24, 1815, has a presale estimate of $3,000 to $4,000. And a rare 19th-century muzzle-loading bronze cannon inscribed "Greene & Co., Baltimore, Makers" should bring $5,000 to $7,000.

Previews: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. next Friday and 7 a.m. to sale time Feb. 11. For further information, call 610-827-1910.

Trains at Alderfer. The brass model trains will be offered by Alderfer Auction & Appraisal at a sale beginning at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the gallery at 501 Fairgrounds Rd., Hatfield. The sale of the more than 225 lots of HO-gauge locomotives and rolling stock, all from a single owner, is also being conducted on

While the models of engines and rolling stock include Reading, Lehigh Valley, and Pennsylvania Railroad prototypes - as well as models from those companies' successors, Amtrak and Conrail - almost all the items came from Japan and South Korea. The imports broke into the U.S. market after World War II, introduced to American collectors by GI train buffs stationed in Japan who admired the workmanship.

According to the website, their construction allowed such minute detailing as individual hand-punched rivets and steam pipes soldered to locomotive boilers. They also were mechanically superior.

And they reflected the trends of the day in U.S. railroads - from steam to diesel and from private to government ownership. Locomotives to be offered include a vintage 1940s Reading T-1 steam engine (also known as a Northern, with a 4-8-4 wheel configuration, $200 to $300) and a Samhongsa Amtrak F-40 diesel electric locomotive ($100 to $200).

Preview: 10 a.m. to sale time Tuesday. For further information, call 215-393-3023.

Advertising memorabilia. The tin advertising signs are among the more than 600 lots of advertising and promotional memorabilia that Morphy Auctions will offer Thursday on the first day of a three-day sale at its gallery near Reading. They include cigar boxes, shaving mugs, and a 38-inch-high, heavy composition Mr. Peanut figure dating to the 1940s. The sale will continue with 600 lots of toys at 10 a.m. next Friday, and beginning at 9 a.m. Feb. 11 with cast iron figures, banks, comic books, and more toy trains, many from the Lincoln Train Museum of Gettysburg.

Thursday's session opens at 10 a.m. with more than 125 lots of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola memorabilia, including signs, trays, calendars, and such novelty items as Coca-Cola pocket mirrors. A single framed set of 10 items, for instance, is expected to bring $1,400 to $2,200, according to presale estimates at the online catalog accessible at

Most other lots are in the three-figure range and evoke other fizzy drinks, including Hires and other root beers; Orange Crush; Cherry Smash; Moxie; and Dr Pepper. A 20-by-52-inch tin Dr Pepper sign from the late 1930s has a presale estimate of $600 to $1,200.

Another tin item with a high presale estimate is an embossed Barbey's Lager Beer sign from Reading; framed and mounted on oak plywood, it is expected to bring $1,500 to $3,000.

An even higher presale estimate, $2,000 to $4,000, is given for a tin Edison Mazda Lamps two-sided sign. Advertising General Electric lightbulbs, it was made around 1917 and features Maxfield Parrish artwork.

Tying it for the highest presale estimate, $3,000 to $4,000 - if not for the best taste - is an Ingraham Hills Liver Tickler Clock. Complete with pendulum and key and a reverse painting of a woman looking in a mirror with her tongue sticking out, it advises: "If coated you need Hills Liver Tickler, Indianapolis, Indiana Drug Specialty Company."

Previews are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily at the gallery at 2000 N. Reading Rd., Denver, Pa. For further information, call 717-335-3435.

Contact David Iams at

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