One of the world's foremost auctions of black Americana has been topped by a stump speaker mechanical bank, which was sold in New Jersey on December 1.
Allen Liffman's lifetime collection of African-American antiques showcased some of finest examples in the field. According to the auction house, "anyone who has bought or sold black Americana is likely to know Allen Liffman", describing him as "a trailblazing dealer".
Made circa 1886, the mechanical bank sold for $9,500, moving towards the top end of its $7,000-10,000 valuation. It is one of the finest examples of the popular collectible ever seen at auction.
Crafted from cast iron by Shepard Hardware Company in Buffalo, New York, the bank works by placing a coin into the caricature's hand and depressing the lever, which in turn causes the coin to be deposited in the bank.
Making a 57.1% increase on its $3,500 high estimate was a carnival knock down bust, which sold for $5,500. Measuring 22 inches tall, the bust was made circa 1920 and would have been placed on a bar stool, which then had balls thrown at it in an attempt to win a prize. An important piece of folk art, it was discovered in New York in 1965.
Following this was a fantastic mechanical toy of two black pugilists, which was made circa 1885 by the Ives Manufacturing Company. With superb articulation and in excellent condition, the piece sold for $3,500.
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