Mosby & Co Auction of Americana Toys Circus Antiques on May 14

Mosby & Co. will make the transition to live auctions with a May 14 sale at its new 4,200 sq. ft. gallery located in the Washington suburb of Frederick, Maryland. With a successful record in the production of absentee and online auctions to serve as his springboard, Mosby & Co.’s principal, Keith Spurgeon, decided the time was right to expand – and this he has done in a big way.

“Our new gallery has 20-foot ceilings, two showcase rooms for previewing, warehouse and office space, and a gallery that seats around 200 people. We’ve needed the space,” said Spurgeon.

“Quality collections have been coming in consistently over the past few years, and storage, in particular, has become a challenge,” Spurgeon continued. “It was time to take the leap and become a full-service auction house.” Along with the new expansion, Spurgeon redesigned his company’s website to make it easier and more enjoyable for visitors to navigate.

Spurgeon’s live-sale debut on May 14 will feature approximately 425 lots of Americana, antique toys and circus-related antiques. The event will open with approximately 200 lots of toys, including 80 motorcycles – many of them from the renowned Malcolm Forbes collection. The motorcycles include tinplate and celluloid types by European, American and Japanese manufacturers. Bikes with Forbes provenance include a prewar Japanese Nomura 3-wheel “Welby” ’cycle, an unusual Ingap 3-wheel example marked Grandi Magazzini (Big Markets), a boxed Tri-Vespa scooter made by La Hotte St. Nicholas, and a near-mint Marusan tin friction “Indian.” A rarity from another collection, an all-celluloid wind-up motorcycle with sidecar, driver and passenger, is the first of its type that Spurgeon has seen in his 25 years as an antique toy dealer.

European toy rarities to be auctioned include a circa-1915 M & K (German) zeppelin carousel, 10½ inches tall and in beautiful, all-original condition; and a boxed Tipp Co. Graf Zeppelin with swastikas on each side.

A colorfully lithographed circa-1915 tin toboggan toy, approximately 16 inches tall, was made by Max Moskowitz of Nuremberg, Germany. “This is yet another toy in the May sale that I’ve never seen before,” said Spurgeon. “It has three cars, each with its original woman rider. Its action is like a roller coaster, and it descends in a spiral fashion.”

Other important toy lots include a boxed TootsieToy Buck Rogers set No. 5460 in “unplayed-with” condition, and a selection of toy cars, molds and spare parts from the Ohio business that traded for many years as “Aunt Fay’s Toys.” The company was known for its replicas of Graham automobiles.

Several salesmen’s sample cooking stoves will be offered, including an Art Deco design that retains its original wood carrying case. The cast-iron and sheet-metal stove is marked “Prosper” and replicates a commercial kitchen range. Another stove, marked “Buck’s Jr.,” is amazingly realistic and displays its original painted decorations. “Opinions are divided on this stove. Some say it is a salesmen’s sample, while others believe it was a store gift to children whose parents bought a full-size stove,” Spurgeon explained.

Seven early Disney-theme die-cut advertising signs will follow the toys in Mosby & Co.’s sale. Top lots include a 20-inch window sign in brilliant primary colors touting Mickey Mouse Slip-Overs (sweatshirts) – possibly the only extant example – and a 1937 window standee of Clarabelle Cow advertising Pepsodent Tooth Powder.

The centerpiece of the Americana section is a twice-signed John Hancock document dated Jan. 21, 1767. In the handwritten response to a ship’s captain, Hancock notes that the 11 barrels of flour purported to have been delivered to him, never actually arrived. Hancock wrote on both the front and back of the historic document, which comes to Mosby & Co. from an advanced collector in Texas.

The auction includes two other documents signed by Declaration of Independence signatories: Robert Treat Paine and Thomas McKean; as well as a 1761 military appointment signed by both King George III and William Pitt. Among the other significant lots in the American section are a nicely illustrated circa-1862 Civil War recruiting broadside for the 2nd Massachusetts Artillery, documents related to the Revolutionary War, Civil War and slavery; and several period weapons.

The auction will conclude on a festive note with a fine selection of American and European circus antiques and advertising posters with a timeline ranging from 1877 to 1960. Rare and sought after, a circa-1890 German poster depicting “human oddities” in the E. Beisner Museum & Gallery is “graphic and colorful, but very creepy,” Spurgeon said. In a lighter vein, a circa-1935 Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey poster displays the image of a clown holding a platter filled with animals.

A late-19th-century mechanical carnival target game, in good working order, consists of a hand-painted wood box whose door pops open when the target is hit, thus activating clockwork musicians and three gaily dancing couples inside. Made in France, the musical novelty was used in carnivals that traveled around Europe.

Mosby & Co.’s live-auction premiere will be held on Saturday, May 14, 2011, commencing at 11 a.m., at the company’s new gallery at 5714-A Industry Lane, Frederick, MD 21704. The preview will be held from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, May 13, and from 9-11 a.m. on auction day. Catered food service will be available all day Saturday.

All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through For further information, call 240-629-8139 or e-mail [email protected] Visit the company’s website at

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