Superman Lunch Box goes for $11,865 at Auction

1954 Superman vs. The Robot Lunch Box in Mint Condition Sells for $11,865 at Multi-Estate Sale Held OCT. 22-24 by Philip Weiss Auctions

Auction Items(OCEANSIDE, N.Y.) – A 1954 Superman vs. The Robot lunch box in mint condition – widely regarded as the Holy Grail of rare and vintage lunch boxes – soared to $11,865 at a three-day multi-estate sale conducted Oct. 22-24 by Philip Weiss Auctions. Around 1,200 lots changed hands at the event, held in the Philip Weiss Auctions showroom at #1 Neil Court in Oceanside.

The lunch box, by Universal, showed Superman flying at The Robot on the front. The reverse showed Superman carrying an airliner, breaking a chain across his chest and smashing through a brick wall. The piece tied for top lot with a 1901 Caille New Century Puck upright 5-cent slot machine in good working order. The highly collectible machine also brought $11,865.

Overall, the auction grossed nearly $500,000. “There were a few surprises, hardly any disappointments, and by and large I was very pleased with the results,” Philip Weiss said of the sale. He estimated 200 people attended the event in person over the course of the three days. Phone and absentee bidding was also brisk, while online bidding was facilitated by Proxibid.

“With regard to Internet bidding, it’s quite remarkable what we see happen,” Mr. Weiss said. “At the start of the auction, we may have 100 or so registered online bidders, no more. But as the sale goes by, hour by hour, more and more bidders log on. And a lot of them are first-timers. This has been a trend, and it’s a good one. I love that our auctions are on the Internet.”

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

An extremely rare Planter’s Mr. Peanut coin-operated scale, standing 44 inches tall and made by the X-Cello Scale Company (Toledo, Ohio), went for $9,040, key included. Also, a pair of Pennsylvania Railroad posters from the 1930s promoting Atlantic City, by the illustrator Edward M. Eggleston (1883-1941), both 23 inches by 33 inches, garnered $7,345 and $5,368.

A Tete Deposse French bebe doll, 25 inches tall with composition body, closed mouth, fixed eyes, finely painted brows and lashes, pierced ears, a ball jointed body and leather shoes went for $4,294, despite the worn and dirty dress. Also, a turn-of-the-century monkey automaton, 20.5 inches tall, with a baby monkey on its back, possibly German, brought $3,673.

A mechanical “Baker Boy” Sanitary Chewing Gum machine, patented by the Manikin Vendor Company (Portland, Ore.) and with the instructions printed on the brass name plate (“Drop penny – turn crank clear over”), breezed to $4,068, while a Schoenhut Humpty Dumpty circus tent with animals set in beautiful condition and showing only minor paint loss hit $2,712.

A single lot consisting of four albums loaded with assorted size photos and ephemeral material pertaining to the career of actress Linda Darnell made $2,938. The archive included images of Ms. Darnell during shootings as well as before, after and home shots. Also, another multiple lot – of stills, press photos, ephemera and negatives from various movies – hit $1,582.

From the toy trains category, a brass locomotive and tender by Tenshodo, made in Japan, HO scale with the railroad name “Duluth Missabe and Iron Range Railway,” in mint condition in the original box, never run, sold for $2,317. Also, a Lionel pre-war 700E scale Hudson 5344 with tender, both showing some wear with scuffs but overall in excellent shape, made $1,187.

Philip Weiss Auctions will conclude 2010 with two more blockbusting estate sales, the first of which is planned for the weekend of Nov. 20-21. The Saturday, Nov. 20 session will be dedicated to a full day of Disney, animation art, comic art, comic books and sports memorabilia – over 600 lots in all. The Disney items will feature convention pieces, rare posters (to include two 1939 Mickey Mouse posters, Standard Gasoline and National Credit Card), animation art, Lladro and other porcelains, and Snow White animation cels with Courvoisier backgrounds.

Nov. 20 will also feature vintage comics and comic art (including a Peanuts daily and a Sunday page featuring Snoopy), sports cards (including complete sets from the ’40s, ’50s and up, early sports cards by makers like Sports Kings, Play Ball, Goudey, Topps, Bowman and more), sports autograph memorabilia (including jerseys, helmets and photos), and balls (to include a single signed Babe Ruth baseball with PSA letter, and a 1942 golf benefit pass signed by Ruth.

The Sunday, Nov. 21 session will present fresh material from a fabulous Park Avenue estate, to include high-end original paintings, part of a large single-owner Hummel collection, tobacco jars, sterling silver, Armani figurines, a Toulouse Lautrec poster (La Revue Blanche), an Alphonse Mucha JOB poster, Part 2 of a collection of pig-related collectibles, fine porcelains, a Chagall china set, sconces, bronzes, and period furniture, such as a Louis XVI-style card table.

The December auction will he held the weekend of Dec. 17-19. The three-day event will kick off on Friday, Dec. 17, at 4 p.m., with approximately 200-300 ocean liner items, to include Part 2 of the Bushnell Collection, with additions. Featured will be tin signs, lithographs, prints, posters, models, paper ephemera, books, china and other assorted ocean liner memorabilia items.

Saturday, Dec. 18, beginning at 10 a.m,, will be dedicated to toy soldiers, toy trains, Fisher Price toys and more. Featured will be Part 2 of the Edward Ryan Collection, including paper toy soldiers, plus sets by Parker Brothers, McLoughlin and other makers. Toy soldiers from a variety of estates will be offered, including Britains, Manoils, Barclay, Durbar and others.

The day will also feature Part 2 of the Lawrence Kozsey “HO Brass” train collection, to include locomotives, cabooses, tenders and passenger cars by Samhongsa, Dongjin, Atlas, Tenshodo and others. Also included will be a miniature elevated railway that was built in the ’20s or ’30s, which features a power house, switching control house, floodlight towers and track. The Sunday session (Dec. 19, also starting at 10 a.m.), will be highlighted by Part 2 of the Great Lakes Collection of stamps and covers. Also featured will be four major estates loaded with album collections, a Midwest estate housed in special albums and more. Also sold will be currency, silver and gold coins (sold as single and group lots), rare books, autographs and maps. Previews will be held on the days leading up to, and including, the auction dates, for both upcoming sales.

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 phil@prwauctions.com. To learn more about Philip Weiss Auctions and the firm’s calendar of upcoming auctions, to include the Nov. 20-21 weekend event, log on to www.prwauctions.com.

Some current live auctions on eBay for vintage lunchboxes:

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