Five branches of a Midwestern family tree have come together to produce the remarkable selection of vintage toys to be auctioned by Estate Road Show over the weekends of May 8-9 and May 22-23. The 1,200-1,500-lot sale sessions, featuring toys amassed individually over several decades by five brothers, will be live events conducted in Killen, Ala., with Internet bidding through eBay Timed-Live, a service exclusive to Estate Roadshow.
The core of the collection was actually established in the 1950s by the father of the adult sons who are consignors to the May sale. As time went on, each of the sons set off on his own collecting path. While each sibling took a different approach to the others in building his collection, they shared a common affinity for vintage American toys, primarily of the boomer era.
“We all liked military toys, Disney, Tonka and Buddy ‘L’ pressed steel toys and toy guns, mostly the Western type,” said one of the sons. “We also collected racing cars and tin toys, battery ops and wind-ups, but we had a special love for airplanes and aviation toys.”
The majority of the toys in the combined super-collection were purchased specifically as additions to the men’s collections. Only a few pieces were their own personal playthings as children.
“Most of what we bought came from traveling extensively and buying at antique shops, toy shows and a few auctions,” said the family spokesman. “And we were never sellers; we were always buyers.”
The timespan for the toys is heavily focused on the 1950s and ’60s, with a few inclusions from the 1970s. A stellar sub-collection of approximately 30 Smith-Miller and Buddy ‘L’ fire trucks is primarily of postwar vintage, but there are also a few examples from the 1930s. For instance, a fully functional 1936 Buddy ‘L’ #28 Water Tower Truck, 45 inches long, is estimated at $3,800-$4,200. Among the postwar standouts, a rare circa-1953 Smith-Miller #3 L Mack aerial SMFD fire truck in the special 8-wheel configuration, 36 inches long and in mint condition, is expected to make $800-$1,000.
Quite a few Disney items will be up for bid, like the mid-1950s Linemar Mickey the Musician and circa-1958-1960 Musical Pluto. A set of R. John Wright limited-edition Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs dolls with matching serial numbers includes two versions of the main character: “Rags” Snow White and “Riches” Snow White. Other highly desirable Disney toys in the auction date to the pre-World War II era, such as the 1939 Fisher-Price/Walt Disney paper litho on wood bell-ringing pull toy of Pinocchio riding a donkey.
The auction also contains an outstanding selection of 1950s-60s toy guns with holsters described as being in “very nice condition, and the high-end types.” Some of the sets are examples not often found in complete condition with holsters and bullets. Two prized lots are the mint/boxed Hubley Colt .45 die-cast revolver and the 1950s Have Gun Will Travel Paladin gun belt and holsters with chess knight logos. Other toy firearms include Marx tinplate machine guns and several early space guns. An especially rare entry from the latter group is the 1936 yellow and red Buck Rogers Liquid Helium Water Pistol made by Daisy.
An impressive lineup of vintage tin wind-up and battery op toys includes many characters (e.g., Popeye, G.I. Joe), while the array of toy racers includes a number of examples not often seen by collectors. “There are probably over 100 racers in all,” the spokesman said. “It took 60 years to accumulate them.”
A vast assortment of airplanes from the 1950s-60s includes tin wind-up and friction aircraft, plus others from the World War II era made of Bakelite.
Among the many other toys to be auctioned are 1960s-vintage dolls, including Shirley Temples; robots, Tonka construction toys, farm trucks, and an all-encompassing brigade of military toys – there are 1950s tin army tanks, Marx tin military ships, soldier and WAC statues, and military airplanes.
Asked why the five brothers had decided to sell the toys, their spokesman said, “Our joint collection has grown very large, and there are other things that we are collecting, now. We want to make some room for our other collections.”
The May 8-9 and May 22-23 auction sessions will take place live at the spacious Estate Road Show gallery (estateroadshow.com), 3540 Hwy. 72, Killen, Alabama 35645, and will be simulcast to the company’s satellite galleries in Chicago and Charleston (MidWest Estate Buyers’ Chicago gallery, 3681 Commercial Ave., Northbrook, IL 60062 and Estate Road Show gallery, 1090 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite C, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464). Because approximately 70% of Estate Roadshow’s auction inventory typically sells online, the ownership set protocols in place to make it possible for bidders to collect their goods from any of the three galleries. Alternatively, purchases can be shipped to the winning bidders anywhere in the world.
In addition to live bidding at any of the three galleries, all other forms of bidding will be available: by phone, absentee or via the Internet from anywhere in the world through eBay Timed Live. The catalog can be viewed online.