Morphys and Hakes team up to produce a million-dollar auction in California

Diamond International Galleries’ auction houses Morphy’s and Hake’s teamed up to produce a colorful 1,200-lot auction of antique toys, Disneyana and advertising/general store antiques Feb. 15-17 at the Burbank Marriott. The event represented the first time Morphy’s had held an auction away from its gallery in Denver (Adamstown), Pa., as well as the first time the absentee-auction giant Hake’s had held a live sale in 40 years of operation. Together, the sister companies took in $1,050,000 (inclusive of 15 percent buyer’s premium), while at the same time physically presenting their well-known national brands to West-Coast-based buyers.

‘A lot of our regular buyers came in person, either to the preview or the sale,- said Dan Morphy, chief operating officer of Morphy Auctions. ‘It was nice to put a face to the
e-mail address.- Morphy also noted that his firm’s presence elicited promising leads and several consignments of collections. ‘But ironically, even with our auction taking place live in Greater L.A., we saw our strongest Internet participation to date.-

While the auction was held only minutes away from the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, much of the original animation art – entered in the sale as a tribute to Disney – ended up selling over the Internet or phones. The top lot within the category was the 10 inch by 4¾ inch color concept art for the 1951 Disney production Alice in Wonderland. The depiction of Alice at the ‘unbirthday- table with the Mad Hatter and March Hare was created by beloved Disney artist Mary Blair (1911-1978), and sold for $11,500.

A small but select grouping of late-1940s Italian-made Zaccagnini figures captured Disney collectors’ attention. Surpassing two different Donald Duck golfers and a Pinocchio ‘donkey boy,- Zaccagnini’s 6 inch by 10½ inch by 8 inch tall trio of Three Little Pigs prevailed at $4,600.

Still banks held strong, reflecting a pattern of growth that began several years ago. Leading the selection in the sale was a rare Hubley Boy with Large Football cast-iron bank in excellent condition. It scored a big win at $4,888.

Cast-iron toys produced notable highlights, as well, including the above-estimate price paid for an Ives Firehouse. In working condition and with its original pumper, it blazed past its $5,000-$7,000 estimate to settle at $8,625.

A fine array of figural cast iron doorstops, bookends and other decorative pieces was offered. Leading the group, a two-story Thatched-Roof Cottage doorstop by Crenier Novelties lived up to its ‘rare and desirable- description, selling for $8,050 against a presale estimate of $2,000-$3,000.

Coca-Cola performed to expectation or better, with a 26 inch by 53 inch horizontal cardboard poster, 1930s vintage and depicting child star Jackie Cooper, bubbling to $2,185. A circa-1913 trolley sign with the image of four smartly dressed young women with glasses of Coke earned $6,900 against an estimate of $2,000-$3,000.

Part I of the prestigious Bob Averill root beer collection attracted nationwide interest. The big winner in the group was a Perfecto 5-Cent Root Beer ceramic ball-top syrup dispenser offered together with a contemporaneous 1-gallon jug of Perfecto Root Beer syrup. Estimated at $10,000-$15,000, the duo rose to a final bid of $23,000.

Mechanical banks, early marbles, cap guns and country store items also fared well, Morphy observed. The latter category was led by a Heinz pickle-shape stringholder in bright, original condition. It fetched $6,900 against an estimate of $3,000-$5,000.

Morphy Auctions’ Spring sale is slated for May 9-12 at Morphy’s gallery in Denver (Adamstown), Pa. For additional information, call 717-335-3435, email [email protected] or view highlights online at