Noel Barrett April 11-13 auction features fabled Jerry Smith Americana collection

. March 8, 2008

NEW HOPE, Pa – One of the great, early collections of Americana claims top billing in Noel Barrett’s 1,400-lot auction to be held April 11-13 in New Hope, Pa. The Jerry Smith collection, which was acquired in its entirety by the Hallmark Corporation years ago, was amassed at a time when few were seeking private ownership of such things as carousels, trade signs, cigar store Indians and antique toys. “Jerry Smith is one of those names that means something to those who’ve been in the antiques game for 40 years or so,” said Barrett. “He was an avid collector of a wide variety of material, primarily Americana. The selection in our sale includes some horse weathervanes, a Hirschl Spillman carousel horse, a Cretor’s popcorn and peanut wagon, barber poles, a 1907 Brush Runabout automobile in near-mint condition – all wonderfully graphic pieces.”

Smith, who was a Buick dealer in Kansas City, Mo., was a friend of Hallmark’s co-founder, J.C. Hall. In the decades following Hallmark’s purchase of the mammoth Smith collection – which the greeting card manufacturers used as resource material for their products – the company deaccessioned portions of the archive, retaining only a small portion at its corporate offices. When storage space allocated to housing the collection was appropriated for other purposes, Hallmark contacted Barrett and arrangements were made to auction the last of the famous collection.

tradesigns.jpgContaining an immense array of superior-quality antique figural trade signs and other amusements, the Jerry Smith collection comprises a substantial portion of the Friday evening session, and will be flanked by other exceptional consignments, including a unique assortment of one of a kind, three-dimensional working patent models. Most have come from the Rothschild Patent Model Collection, with examples including a paper collar machine, pool hall ball rack and brick-making machine. Toy-related examples include a tightrope walker, a cyclist and a smoker.

Two major, lifetime collections of toys and trains take the spotlight in the Saturday session. Andy Lukach, an artist by profession, amassed a superb collection of American tin and cast-iron (including horse-drawn firefighting) toys and trains, European live-steam trains including Marklin and Carette; and a very solid specialty collection of English brass dockyard-style locomotives, which Barrett described as “a significant part of the sale.”

The second featured component of Saturday’s (and Sunday’s) sessions is the Eugene Straub collection of trains and toys, which is especially strong on 20th-century American track trains, including Dorfan – a fairly scarce make that ran third behind Lionel and American Flyer. “The Straub collection is a nicely rounded, varietal toy collection,” Barrett observed, “with a range that runs from Buddy ‘L’ to boxed TootsieToys, including a TootsieToys Funnies set.”

Also in the Saturday lineup are more than 200 penny toys, many of them rare examples consigned by a private collector; and an impressive fleet of ships and boats from two private collections. One of the collections has been resting in “mothballs” for the past few years, awaiting the settlement of an estate, said Barrett. “It contains more than 100 fabulous European boats and submarines from Marklin, Radiguet, Carette, Fleischmann and other manufacturers.” Among the high-end marine vessels are a Marklin Jolanda, a New York, a Philadelphia battleship, and many others.

The Sunday “trains and trucks” session opens with an amazing assortment of Smith-Miller and Doepke pressed-steel trucks from the collection of Mike Christenson. “It’s quite an extraordinary collection, with many boxed examples,” Barrett noted.

Next up will be track trains of many types: European tinplate (Marklin, Carette, Issmayer), many European brass live-steam locos, English Bassett-Lowke and Hornby trains, and early American live steam and electric trains, including examples by Knapp, Carlisle & Finch, and Voltamp. Additionally, bidders will be able to choose from one of the largest selections of Dorfan trains and accessories to come on to the market in quite some time.

The train grouping is filled out with a nice smattering of Lionel standard gauge, rolling stock and accessories, and an interesting selection of Japanese HO gauge brass trains from the late 1940s and 1950s. “The detail on these trains is wonderful,” Barrett said. “They were sold in an unfinished state, and the people who bought them would then paint the trains themselves.”

There are many other categories represented in the Noel Barrett’s colorful three-day event: arks, optical toys, tinplate wind-up toys, early music machines, mechanical dolls, a high-wheel bicycle and many other toys, advertising items and figural novelties.

Noel Barrett’s Spring Auction featuring antique toys, trains, Americana and patent models will be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 11-13 at the Eagle Fire Co. Hall, 46 N. Sugan Road, New Hope, PA 18938. The Friday session will commence at 5 p.m., with an all-day preview starting at 11 a.m. Both the Saturday and Sunday sessions will commence at 10 a.m., with a preview each day from 8-10 a.m.

A fully illustrated auction catalog is available for $35 postpaid ($40 to Canada, $45 overseas), and the electronic catalog may be viewed online at www.liveauctioneers.com approximately two weeks before the sale. All forms of bidding will be available, including absentee, phone, fax or live via the Internet through www.ebayliveauctions.com. For additional information or assistance, call 215-297-5109 or e-mail toys@noelbarrett.com. View Noel Barrett Auctions’ Web site at www.noelbarrett.com.

Category: Auction News

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