Unique cast-iron bulldog could sink its teeth into $25,000 at Morphy's Auctions

Over the weekend of April 29-30, 2011, Morphy Auctions of Pennsylvania will present a colourful array of fresh to the market antique toys, banks, advertising and figural cast-iron novelties in a 1,645-lot auction titled A Spring Selection.

Both the Friday and Saturday sessions include extremely rare items from long-held collections, with highlights including early Dr Pepper advertising items, 19th-century occupational shaving mugs, and a historically important circa-1928 Hubley cast-iron bulldog lawn ornament believed to be a lone survivor. Internet live bidding will be provided by LiveAuctioneers.

As is the tradition at Morphy's toy sales, banks will be first to cross the auction block, starting with a nice variety of 'stills'.

The grouping of over 100 still banks includes a Moody and Sankey (patented 1870), which features images of the two 19th-century gospel luminaries, estimate $2,500-$3,500; as well as a House with Dormer Windows, $1,500-$2,000; House with Basement, $1,500-$2,500; Hippo, $1,000-$1,500; and Park bank, $2,000-$3,000.

Boy robbing bird nest bank
Look out behind you! Boy robbing bird's nest bank

An equal serving of mechanical banks will follow, with top lots including a Lion Hunter and Boy Robbing Bird's Nest, each estimated at $6,000-$9,000; and a Cat & Mouse bank, $6,000-$8,000. All three banks were made by J. & E. Stevens and are in near-mint condition.

The star of the figural cast iron section is an imposing, life-size English bulldog garden ornament made by Hubley around 1928.

Patterned after a bulldog that belonged to Hubley's corporate treasurer, two sample dogs were produced from a plaster-of-Paris prototype, Morphy's example being one of them. When Wall Street crashed in 1929, Hubley scrapped plans to manufacture the expensive design.

One of the sample dogs was broken down and melted for the war effort in the 1930s; the other remained in Pennsylvania and passed through several collectors' hands before arriving at Morphy's. It will be auctioned with a $20,000-$25,000 estimate.

Cast iron English bulldog ornament
What are you looking at? Cast iron English bulldog ornament

A fine representation of cast-iron bottle openers, doorstops and other figural novelties will be offered. Top doorstop entries include a Salem Witch, $1,200-$1,500; and the only known Yellow Duck, as depicted in John C. and Nancy M. Smith's The Doorstop Book, $3,500-$4,500.

The only extant example of a cast-iron Monkey lawn sprinkler, estimate $2,000-$2,500, was found in New England and is in near-mint condition. Other prized pieces in the category include two bottle openers - a cast-iron wall-mount Skull, and a Golf Caddy, each estimated at $400-$500.

The cast iron roster continues with 200+ early American toys. An original Burning Building by Carpenter could fetch $10,000-$15,000; while an Ives 4-horse Flying Artillery is estimated at $2,000-$4,000.

Others include a Harris Chemical Wagon, $2,000-$3,000; and a Dent Ladder Truck, $1,500-$2,500. Two classic Hubley toys - a Royal Circus Giraffe Cage and 3-Seat Brake - carry estimates of $3,000-$5,000.

Among the European tin toys are an early French clockwork 3-wheel cycling toy with dressed driver, $2,000-$4,000 and a hand-painted windup hot air balloon, $1,500-$2,000. Many trains will follow, some by Marklin and Bing.

The Friday session takes on a whimsical feel with a collection of glass and papier-mache candy containers. Highlights include a Toonerville Trolley, $600-$900; Baseball Player with Bat, $600-$900; and Barney Google, $500-$700.

The toy parade concludes with approximately 100 robots and space toys. Leaders include boxed Masudaya "Gang of Five" members Radicon Robot, $6,000-$12,000; and Target Robot, $8,000-$12,000; and a boxed Yonezawa X-27 Explorer, $6,000-$9,000.

These are just like those from the Mark Solondz collection, previously sold by Dan Morphy. Watch this space for more news on this fascinating auction.

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