Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information


A two-page typed Titanic letter and a scarce first-class Titanic deck plan also changed hands.

(OCEANSIDE, N.Y.) – A rare Punch cigar store advertising figure, cast in zinc and made around 1885 by William Demuth & Company, Mfrs. (N.Y.) knocked down for $37,290 at a massive three-day estate sale held March 1-3 by Philip Weiss Auctions, in the firm’s gallery facility located at #1 Neil Court in Oceanside. The Punch figure was the top lot of the auction.

William Demuth (1835-1911), a native of Germany, arrived in the U.S. at age 16 as a penniless immigrant. He found work as a clerk with a tobacco tradesman in New York City and in 1862 he established his own company, the William Demuth Company. The firm specialized in pipes, canes, cigar-store figures and other carved objects. All these are highly collectible today.

The Punch figures, though, are especially coveted by collectors. They came about when Demuth formed a partnership in 1883 with Moritz Seelig, a Brooklyn foundry operator, who crafted the figures for Demuth out of wood and metal. One Punch figure sold at auction in 2008 for $207,000. The example just sold would have brought more had it not been made into a lamp.

Also offered in the sale were items pertaining to the doomed ocean liner Titanic. A two-page letter typed on White Star Line stationery by Charles Herbert Lightoller, a survivor of the disaster, brought $15,820, while a first-class deck plan of the ship realized $4,294. A two-page letter handwritten aboard the Titanic by a passenger who perished failed to make the reserve bid.

The Lightoller letter was dated May 1, 1912, a couple of weeks after the Titanic sank, and carried his bold signature at the end, plus a pen correction. It was written aboard another ship – the Adriatic – and in it, he went into great detail about the last hours alive of John E. Simpson, an assistant surgeon on the Titanic. It was Simpson’s letter that failed to make the reserve bid.

The first-class deck plan, titled First Class Accommodation and given to passengers to help them find their way around the ship, measured 40 inches by 29 ½ inches and was in overall excellent condition, with just a few tiny seam tears. It was from a second printing, dated Jan. 6, 1912. The plan showed a detailed layout of all the decks, plus illustrations of the various rooms.

The auction was impressive in terms of size (1,600 lots offered over three days), scope (a wide array of categories represented) and gross (which topped the $500,000 mark). March 1 had sports-related items, non-sports cards, comics and comic art; March 2 featured transportation, militaria, historical, posters and circus items; and March 3 offered toys, trains and toy soldiers.

“It was a very active sale, with lots of Internet bidding and enthusiastic bidders in the room,” said Philip Weiss, who estimated around 300 people attended the event live, while about 800 bidders registered online (through He added, “We were pleased that the low to medium-end toys did so well, with 98 percent of lots sold. Trains did well, too, as expected.”

Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 13 percent buyer’s premium.

An original Charles Schulz Peanuts Sunday page, dated Feb. 9, 1964, went for $24,860. The fresh-to-the-market strip, measuring 17 inches by 23 ½ inches featured Lucy and Linus, with Linus complaining about a splinter in his figure. Philip Weiss Auctions has an uncanny knack for attracting original Peanuts strips to its sales, and they almost always command high dollar prices.

A cut signature of Nile Kinnick, the football Heisman Trophy winner who died young in a Navy flight training air crash in 1943 (making anything signed by him exceedingly rare) rose to $5,650. The 3 inch by 1 ½ inch card was signed in pencil, “Best wishes, Nile Kinnick” and came with a JSA certificate. Mr. Kinnick was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.

A Lionel standard gauge five-piece 381E Green State toy train set went to a determined bidder for $6,498. The set included a 381E electrical engine and four passenger cars (412, 413, 414 and 416). The engine was graded in very good condition, while the cars were either very good or excellent. A small paint chip on one of the car’s roofs was the only discernible flaw.

Two posters did very well. One was an early, linen-backed aviation poster for the Donaldson Fair in Newport, N.Y., in 1913 (one of three offered in the sale). Measuring 28 inches by 41 ½ inches and depicting a plane, it soared to $4,068. The other was a “Keep Us Flying” World War II aviation poster, picturing one of the Tuskegee Airmen black pilots ($2,486).

Rounding out a list of just some of the auction’s top lots is a very rare 1911 blue felt pennant for the 1911 Vanderbilt Cup automotive road race. The pennant, 23 ½ inches long and depicting the race’s trophy with a race car in it, breezed to $3,390. In 1911, the Vanderbilt Cup Race was moved from Long Island to Savannah, Ga., and made part of the Savannah Grand Prix.

Philip Weiss Auctions’ next big sale will be a three-day, four-session extravaganza slated for April 19-21. The Thursday, April 21 session will feature stamps, coins and postcards; Friday, April 20, will be dedicated to toys, trains, toy soldiers and dolls; and Saturday, April 21, will be two sessions — Disney (animation, toys, figurines) and Hollywood and rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia.

Philip Weiss Auctions is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign an item, an estate or a collection, you may call them at (516) 594-0731, or e-mail them at [email protected].

To learn more about Philip Weiss Auctions and the firm’s calendar of events, to include the upcoming April 19-21 sale, please log on to

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