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Julia Toy, Doll, and Advertising Auction

November 22nd, 2013


This 29" tall Izannah Walker doll, once discarded in a trash heap, brought $14,220. Julia photos.


This American Outline locomotive and tender by the German toy maker Märklin was adapted for the American market with the addition of a front headlamp, bell, and cowcatcher. The tender was missing its load of coal, but it sold well over the $4000/6000 estimate for $9480. After 150 years in business, in 2009, Märklin filed for insolvency in a German court because of several years of diminished sales, but a year later it announced a return to profitability.


Intricate, intact, and in its original tin carrying case, this salesman’s sample of a reaper was a model in pristine condition. When it was rolled along a tabletop, a chain-driven forked and jointed arm would sweep around and gather the hay, fluff it up, and dump it into the farmer’s wagon that would follow alongside. The manufacturer of the real machine was not recorded, but the model was labeled “J. F. Werner Model Maker & Machinist 62 Centre St N.Y.”  With some negligible condition problems, it commanded $10,665. Julia photos.

James D. Julia, Fairfield, Maine

It wasn’t James D. Julia’s biggest toy, doll, and advertising auction in recent years, but the November 22, 2013, sale in Fairfield, Maine, totaled over $750,000, and most auctioneers would be thrilled to have that tally on their books, especially given that only about 34 of 600 lots didn’t sell.

Maine antiques dealer David Beane displayed a 48" x 73" hand-painted drugstore sign on tin at the last Maine Antiques Festival in Union, Maine, where he was asking $15,000 for it. It didn’t sell there, so Beane decided to try his luck at Julia’s. A manufacturer’s stencil read “Ithaca Sign Works, Ithaca, N.Y.,” and auctioneer Jim Julia estimated it to be from about 1910. But what neither Julia nor Beane apparently knew at the time of consignment was that Fogg’s Drug Store was at one time owned by an ancestor of current Julia employee Wayland Magoon, who told me, “Gridley Reed Fogg owned that store. It was at 96 Water Street in Skowhegan…Gridley Reed Fogg’s grandfather, my fifth great-grandfather, was drowned in a little stream up in Skowhegan the day after his son was born.” The sign sold close to Beane’s previous asking price for $14,220 (includes buyer’s premium).

Another potential headliner came with its own “saved from oblivion” story. Julia reported that an Izannah Walker doll was retrieved from a garbage can when the wife of the consignor rescued it about 20 years ago. It was made in Central Falls, Rhode Island, around 1860, with a one-piece painted head and upper torso, molded and painted arms and legs, and a stockinette-covered body. Like a phoenix rising from the trash bin ashes, the doll soared to $14,220.

But it was another doll, a 16" Bru Bebe, incised “Bru Jne 4,” that topped the sale. With a white kid body, jointed at the hips and knees with metal and bisque arms, she easily passed the $10,000/15,000 estimate and closed at $21,870.

Thought to be one of only two known examples extant, a firehouse and horse-drawn pumper appeared to be a collaboration between Merriam, which manufactured tin toys, and Reed, which made wooden ones. Dating to the 1870’s or 1880’s, it had a painted tin silhouette driver who drove his wooden pumper and boiler into a gilt and red brick wooden firehouse. The firehouse has a hinged roof opening to reveal the inner workings, a bell, and a little fireman who pops out the front window. The other example had been featured in American Antique Toys: 1830-1900 (1980) by Bernard “Barney” Barenholtz. With no serious defects, it fell squarely within the estimate for $9720.

For more information, see (www.juliaauctions.com) or call (207) 453-7125.

Firehouse and horse-drawn pumper, thought to be a collaboration of makers Merriam and Reed, $9720.

A collection of seven patent model papier-mâché shoulder doll heads, some with their original patent tags, dating from the 1850’s to the 1870’s, cleared the $400/600 estimate to close at $5332.50. Julia photo.

This 16" “Bru Bebe” doll brought $21,870.

An early 20th-century suspension bridge model by Märklin, with a simulated stonework structure and helmeted soldier figures guarding the entrances, $8295.

This three-wheeled Columbus bell toy by J. & E. Stevens Co. came with the original Stevens finger-jointed box. This one was polychrome as opposed to the more common gold-wash version. Julia’s sold it in 2005 for $10,350, but this time it fetched $3948.75.


This Western Union stock ticker, probably used as late as the 1940’s, has a black-painted cast-iron base reading “QUOTATIONS FURNISHED BY THE/ WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH CO. / APPLY TO LOCAL MANAGER” and a stamp on the interior electronics reading “M’F’D by T.A. Edison, Inc.” It sold over the $6500/8500 estimate for $9480.


Originally published in the March 2014 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2014 Maine Antique Digest

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