Auctions: Philadelphia-area auctions feature vintage toys and glassware

Posted: July 28, 2012

A cavalcade of collectibles will be up for bids next week, with banks, advertising, pottery, and vintage toys offered at two sales Tuesday, and glassware, that multipurpose medium, offered at an online sale that ends Aug. 6.

The vintage toys will be offered by William Bunch Auctions beginning at noon Tuesday at the gallery at One Hillman Dr., Chadds Ford.

The 235 lots feature pressed steel, cast iron, and Matchbox vehicles; Steiff and other stuffed animals; windups and battery-operated figures, including a 23-inch-high Great Garloo monster by Marx ($100 to $200); Gilbert chemistry and Erector sets; cap pistols and other toy firearms; model trains; lead soldiers; and dolls, including Barbies, bisque heads, and a Lenci Torino cloth clown doll with jointed legs ($100 to $200).

Most of the lots have presale price estimates in the low three figures, according to the online auction catalog accessible at, although a pair of BF Goodrich Lone Ranger child's leather boots could bring $350 to $500 and an 83-piece English Soldiers Set No. 1555, Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, has a presale estimate of $600 to $1,000. Previews: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. to sale time Tuesday. For further information, call 610-558-1800.

Discovery sale at Morphy's. Beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday at its gallery near Reading, Morphy Auctions will also offer toys and dolls, but they will constitute only a small part of what Dan Morphy calls the first of a new series of "Discovery Auctions" tentatively scheduled for twice a month. The new series will offer absentee, phone, and online bidding with no reserves and is intended to offer consignors short-notice arrangements with a quick turnaround time.

Prices are generally moderate, according to the online auction catalog accessible at The 250 lots in Tuesday's sale also feature banks, advertising items, coins, stamps, and artwork, with most items expected to sell in the low three-figure range.

Some of the coins could bring more, notably a complete set of Mercury dimes (1916 to 1945) with a presale estimate of $1,000 to $1,500. So could some of the advertising signs, including a Devoe Paints & Varnishes sign depicting an American Indian that has a presale estimate of $1,000 to $2,000.

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

Glassware during dog days. The glassware will be offered by Glass Works Auctions, an online site with headquarters in East Greenville, Montgomery County. Titled the Dog Days of August and closing Aug. 6, the sale offers more than 450 lots, including inkwells from the collection of the late John Hummer, the Ron Rasnake collection of bitters bottles, and a private collection of fire grenades.

Inkwells, bitters bottles, and fire grenades are among the more unusual categories of collectible glass, which often consists of bottles and other vessels scrounged from dump sites. (The informative and chatty online auction catalog, accessible at, notes that a Dr. Cronk's Beer bottle dating to pre-Civil War Ohio, with a presale estimate of $1,800 to $3,000, was found by the well-known bottle collector John Odell in a Cincinnati privy - and was one of his favorites.)

The 60 lots of inkwells opening the sale include pressed-glass, free-blown, and drape pattern glass shapes, as well as others in the shapes of beehives, paperweights, umbrellas, log cabins, and teakettles, notably a cobalt blue kettle with a presale estimate of $700 to $900.

The 30 lots of fire grenades will be offered at the end of the sale. Before the modern fire extinguisher, these globular vessels, filled with carbon tetrachloride, were hurled into a blaze to suck the oxygen out of it.

Those to be offered should sell in the three-figure range, although a Healey's hand fire extinguisher made around 1890 has a presale estimate of $1,800 to $2,750.

In between the wells and grenades are other categories, notably flasks embossed with figures of heroes and other depictions. The top one is a medium pink/amethyst flask made around 1850 by the Dyottville Glass Works of Philadelphia (one of four from Dyottville) that depicts George Washington and Gen. Zachary Taylor and has a presale estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.

Also of note is a Stiegel cologne bottle, presumably made around 1770 by the Stiegel Glassworks of Manheim, Pa., that has a presale estimate of $3,500 to $5,500. (It should be noted here that the American glass industry began in South Jersey and then in Southeastern Pennsylvania, in large part because of the German settlers in both areas. The Museum of American Glass in Millville has examples of inkwells, bitters bottles, and fire grenades in one of its many galleries.)

The sale continues with other glass vessels, including decanters and whiskey bottles, notably a Callahan's Old Cabin made around 1865 in Pittsburgh with a presale estimate of $14,000 to $18,000, before coming to the 30 lots of bitters bottles. Several have four-figure presale estimates, including a McKeever's Army Bitters bottle made around 1870 and decorated with cannonballs on a drum that has a presale estimate of $3,500 to $4,750. McKeever's, the catalog notes, catered to Civil War veterans, often illiterate, suffering physical and mental trauma who turned to drugs and alcohol for relief. McKeever's was easy to find.

For further information, call 215-679-5849. Note: Glass Works' website says its entire auction staff will be at the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors Expo in Reno, Nev., until Tuesday. Until then, no one will be in the office. Messages left at 215-679-5849 will be transferred to auction company cellphones. Laptop computers will help keep online bidding updated.

Contact David Iams at .

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