Popeye the Pilot swoops into antique and vintage toy auction

Pennsylvania is known as a hotbed for antique and vintage toys, especially the triangle between Philadelphia, Lancaster and Philadelphia.

This is an area well known to the specialists at Stephenson's Auctioneers in Southampton. Their toy auctions - with consignments from long-time private collectors and area estates - can be counted on for variety, quality and, almost always, a surprise or two.

On July 15, Stephenson's will present its 2011 Mid-Summer Dolls, Toys & Trains Auction, featuring approximately 300 lots of carefully chosen antique and vintage playthings. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.

The auction will begin at 2 pm Eastern time with a selection of 50 American and European dolls. Some of the dolls are of early manufacture, including wax examples and German bisque-head dolls by C.M. Bergmann and Simon & Halbig.

Two sought-after Martha Chase painted cloth dolls - one measuring 30 inches tall; the other, 24 inches - will be offered, as well. The antique doll grouping is nicely complemented by an array of composition and hard plastic dolls, 1950s Toni dolls and several Barbies.

Tea will even be served from a period spongeware doll-size tea set.

Stephenson's owner, Cindy Stephenson, said she believe collectors will be drawn to the two beautifully crafted room boxes entered in the sale. One of them replicates a general store of the early 20th century, 2½ feet high by 2 feet wide, and was probably constructed in the 1970s or '80s.

The store illuminates and is stocked with miniature store goods of all types and is occupied by two men playing a game of checkers, and a pet dog.

The second room box, also illuminated, measures 15 inches high by 2 feet wide and depicts an early 20th-century kitchen. Generously accessorized, its furnishings include a table and chairs, hutch with china, a cast-iron stove, clothes tree and many miniature culinary accoutrements.

Popeye the Pilot toy
Popeye the Pilot toy (spinach not included)

The colourful parade of toys will be led by tin wind-ups and mechanical toys in excellent condition. Ever-popular Chein toys include several with a carnival theme, including a Ferris wheel, two roller coasters, and an Aero Swing; plus an Aquaplane and Marching Drummer.

Other tin toys of note include a number of desirable Louis Marx productions, topped by a Moon Mullins and Kayo Hand Car (in pristine condition with track and original box), Cabin Cruisers, a Cowboy Whoopee Car, and a classic Police Motorcycle.

Always "strong to the finish," a circa-1940 Popeye the Pilot clockwork airplane features bright primary colours and has the primitive look that is so appealing to collectors of Popeye and character toys in general. Another cartoon favourite, Fred Flintstone, is represented by a wind-up Fred on Dino and a friction-powered Flintstone Flivver.

Robot collectors will have their chance to score one of the sale's quiet gems - a Japanese Mechanical Walking "Robot with Spark" by S.Y. The figure's silver body is trimmed in orange and blue, a quintessential motif in boomer-era space toys.

Other toy highlights include a Weeden steam engine, a large selection of battery-operated toys in their original boxes, and two tinplate penny toys: a Prussian soldier on a buckboard drawn by two horses, and a Toonerville Trolley.


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