(Oceanside, N.Y.) – A Wagon Train playset, made around 1960 by Marx Toys and based on the popular television show of the time, sold for $15,255 – a new world auction record for a Marx playset – at a multi-estate sale held Oct. 24-26 by Philip Weiss Auctions. The playset (Series 5000, Stock No. 4888) was mint and unused in the box, the only blemish being a few tears to the accessory bags inside.
Ironically, the Wagon Train set was sold just a few minutes after another Marx playset crossed the block and held, albeit briefly, the world auction record, too. It was a Ben-Hur playset (Series 5000, Stock No. 4701), also made circa 1960 and in mint condition in the box. The set sailed past its pre-sale estimate of $2,000-$4,000 to bring $9,320. The Wagon Train set was expected to bring $1,000-$2,000.
“Obviously, the prices realized for the Marx playsets were a nice surprise,” said Philip Weiss. “Overall, the auction did about what we expected. The better items brought solid prices and the mid-level merchandise held its own. Given the current state of the financial markets and the economy as a whole, I’d say the sale was a success.” About 1,300 lots changed hands over the course of three days.
Mr. Weiss said the crowd was modest by his standards – only about 150 people in total – but phone and absentee bidding was brisk and 1,500 people registered online, via LiveAuctioneers.com and eBayLiveAuctions. During the past year, Philip Weiss Auctions has seen numerous auction records fall, including unprecedented prices for stamps (6); a Punch Cigar Store figure; and now a Marx playset.
Other top lots from the auction follow. All prices quoted include a 13 percent buyer’s premium.
Original pen-and-ink Peanuts comic strips by the legendary cartoonist and illustrator Charles Schulz have become commonplace at most Philip Weiss Auctions, but that doesn’t stop them from fetching dizzying prices. Four Peanuts strips sold for a combined $98,000. Included in the group was an original Sunday page with a cute bowling story line that went to a determined bidder for $33,000.
An extremely rare cardboard concert poster from 1969, advertising some of the great rock ‘n’ roll acts of the day (Jimi Hendrix, the Monkees, Glen Campbell and Rod McKuen), went for $5,750. The poster, from the collection of Concerts West promoter William Easley, advertised the spring and early summer lineup of shows at the Sam Houston Coliseum and Houston Music Hall in Houston, Tex.
Another rock ‘n’ roll poster – this one advertising an appearance by Jimi Hendrix at the Electric Factory on Feb. 21-22, 1968, extremely rare and in overall excellent condition – commanded $4,970. Returning to toys, a lot comprising a pair of Heyde elephants, made by the renowned German toy maker Heyde in the teens or early 1920s, climbed to $2,600. The lot included accessories (riders, etc.).
The Friday session was dedicated, in part, to rare and vintage dolls. A top earner was a lot of ten Nancy Ann Story Book dolls expected to bring about $150-$450 but when the final gavel came down the set had found a new owner for $2,930. All the dolls featured jointed legs, painted black slippers and complete costumes with hats or bows. Four of the dolls had circular gold labels on their period dresses.
Philip Weiss Auctions’ next big sale will be held the weekend of Nov. 21-23, in the firm’s spacious showroom, located at #1 Neil Court in Oceanside, N.Y. Friday, Nov. 21, will feature hundreds of fresh-to-the-market lots of fine art; estate jewelry; period furniture; sterling silver; pieces by Tiffany, Rand & Crane and Gorham, Oriental rugs; George Jones dinner plates; rare antique china; and more.
The Saturday, Nov. 22, session will be the firm’s greatest sports sale ever. Leading the charge will be a T206 Honus Wagner baseball card, often called the Holy Grail of sports cards. Graded SGC 3, it is expected to bring $500,000-$800,000. The T206 series was made from 1909-1911 by the American Tobacco Company. Just 200 of the Honus Wagner cards were ever distributed. Only a few exist today.
The Nov. 22 session will also feature an original owner collection of T205 and T206 cards, to include a highly prized Ray Demmitt error card; a bat signed by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig; a contest bat signed by Ruth; a Ruth signed ball from 1927; an archive of Ty Cobb letters; and an important collection of items pertaining to Willie Shoemaker, perhaps the greatest horse racing jockey of all time.
The Nov. 23 session will feature two fresh-to-the-market comic art collections that include three original Charles Schulz Peanuts strips and original Prince Valiant art by Hal Foster and John Cullen Murphy. The day will also include a Herriman Krazy Kat daily; a Felix the Cat Sunday page; a Segar Popeye; and an archive of 1950s DC comic pages, including pages from Superman and World’s Finest.
Also set to cross the block on Nov. 23 are several Wayne Boring Superman dailies; a high-grade copy of Famous Funnies #1; and other comic books and Big Little books. Rare books and autographs include an important Frank Lloyd Wright letter regarding the building of the Guggenheim Museum, with initialed plans by Wright. Also, a Louis Vuitton trunk from the Guggenheim family will be sold.
Philip Weiss Auctions will conclude the year with yet another blockbuster weekend event slated for Dec. 20-21. Featured will be the Ken Allisburg soda fountain and ice cream advertising collection; toys, including boxed amusement ride toys; 200-300 lots of toy trains; Part 3 of the B.L. “Phil” Philips collection, mostly battery-operated toys; vintage slot and coin-op machines; toy soldiers; and more.
Looking ahead to 2009, Philip Weiss Auctions is planning the fourth and final part of The Newport Stamp Collection (six world auction records were established in Parts 1-3). Early spring will see an auction dedicated to medical and scientific instruments and material. And recently arrived for an early 2009 sale is a huge single-owner toy train collection, including Post-War Lionel still in the box.
Philip Weiss Auctions is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign an item, estate or collection, you may call them directly, at (516) 594-0731, or you can e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the firm and its calendar of upcoming sales, and to view images of some lots to be offered in the November 21-23 auctions, log on to www.prwauctions.com.