Thursday, 29 April 2010

Very rare Steiff Opossum `Billy Possum', circa 1910

In 1909 William H. Taft became President of the USA; following Theodore Roosevelt. As Teddy Roosevelt had his adopted mascot, the Teddy Bear; Taft and his supporters adopted a Opossum called Billy. Rather amusingly, at a dinner to honour the new president held in Atlanta, `Opossum aux patates' - Opossum with sweet potatoes, was served!

In the same year, in response, Steiff registered this design and he was made until 1914.

Now very rare, they can sell for anything between £1000 and £5000.

Don't you think he is sweet?

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Christie's Barbie Auction 2006

I happened to find this great image of Christie's Barbie sale, while searching the internet. It brought back fond memories. The auction which I catalogued was one of the largest ever to come to auction. Christie's went to town and had one wall covered in `Barbie Pink' cloth to set off the collection. Here is an amazing line up, with Barbie No.1, 2 and 3 in her zebra stripped swim suit.
The three on the top left of the shelf are also very rare, they are `high-colour' Barbie's made for the Japanese market.

I have copies of the catalogue, which I regularly sell on eBay, so keep an eye out for it. It is well worth getting, it is fully illustrated in colour and prices can be obtained from Christie's.

Dealing with the sale gave me a huge appreciation for this iconic toy.. although I am not sure I am ready to deal with another one for a good few years.....

Monday, 26 April 2010

Very rare Dolls' house dolls

These two dolls were part of the Warner Collection sold at Christie's in January 2009. They are what is generally called Mignon dolls, these are believed to be French, but other people think they are German for the French Market. They normally have shoeless feet, where German dolls house dolls normally have a painted/moulded shoe or boot. These two are extra rare as they had knee and elbow joints. They were all in original clothes and an original retail box for a Brighton shop Kyte and Harris Kinder Garten, 10 East Street. They sold for an amazing £5,250.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Can you believe it? A Belisha Beacon Duck!!!!

This is one of my favourite things... I have wanted one since I first saw an example at Christie's 10 or 15 years ago. The owner brought one to the valuation counter, apparantly they were given away as a prize at schools to promote these new lights. At the time we thought that he was only worth perhaps £100-150 and the vendor did not want to sell at that level because Christie's charges only worked properly, when items were worth over £200.

I felt I had to get a photo of him, so I asked the owner and they let me take it to our photo studio and quickly take a picture. Ever since I have hunted high and low for one.

About 3 monthes ago this one appeared on eBay and thankfully it was in a catagory where followers of this type of toy don't look. So I was delighted to win him at a very low price (I love eBay for this).

The duck is mohair and has felt feet and beak; also felt discs behind his boot button eyes. He is probably by Chiltern or Chad Valley, but has no labels. Do you know who made him?

From Wikipedia -
A Belisha beacon is an orange globe lamp atop a tall black and white pole, marking pedestrian crossings of roads in the United Kingdom, Ireland and in other countries historically influenced by Britain. It was named for Leslie Hore-Belisha (1895-1957), the Minister of Transport who in 1934 added beacons to pedestrial crossings, marked by large metal studs in the road surface. These crossings were later painted in black and white stripes, thus are known as zebra crossings. The rule of thumb is that pedestrians have the right of way (over wheeled traffic) only on such crossings.

I would suggest that this duck must date from around 1934.

He now has become one of my star items in the collection.

Monday, 19 April 2010


Here is a lovely baby's plate I have just sold.. it features the famous Brownie characters.

Brownie's are a type of Hobgoblin who secretly help around the house at night. This is also where the junior branch of the girl guides name comes from.

During the late 19th and early 20th century, Palmer Cox, Canadian illustrator created a series of books which became very popular. This is where the illustrations on this plate come from.

As you can see from the back stamp, this plate is made by Grimwades of Stoke on Trent.

Steiff Dancing Bears from a 1920s display, possibly the famous Bears Wedding

These two bears are similar to those that were featured dancing in a display made by Steiff in 1925. At one stage they were on display in San Francisco for the American Children's Day on June 18, 1927. Called 'The Bears' Wedding', at least six bear couples were dancing on a raised area in the middle of a village, as a wedding procession comes out of the church. It is possible that this type of bear was made for other displays.

This pair sold for £13,200 at Christie's Teddy Bear sale on 13th December 2005.

A similar pair of bears were sold at Christie's on the 13th February 1992. These now reside in the Puppenhausmuseum in Basel and are photographed on page 50 of their museum catalogue.

A pair of dancing bears and three musicians were also sold at the Steiff 2003 Festival in Giengen, lot 50.

You can also buy a Steiff Limited Edition of this type of bears, I think they are charming..

Shall we dance?

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Rare St Dunstans nursery chair

This is a wonderful piece, a painted wooden rabbit nursery chair. `A Collapsible Nursery Animal Furniture - Made by War-blinded Men - "Rabbits" Small Chair - Designed by Vera Moller A.R.C.A'

St. Dunstan's was founded 95 years ago to help blind ex-Service men and women and is very much still going today. For the full history have a look at their website (copy and paste this into your browser).

I am trying to find out about Vera Moller; A.R.C.A. is an Associate of the Royal Cambrian Academy. I have tried a google search and nothing come up, I have emailed the R.C.A and I am still waiting to hear, will add details if I receive them.

How great to have the original box for something like this. The stencil design of rabbits is very clever; you can tell it is designed by a true artist. I believe this was made between the two wars.

I love this type of charity toys; another company who made items like this is Lords Roberts.

Do you have any examples of similar things?

Thursday, 1 April 2010

A bit early, but `Anyone for tennis?'

My latest purchase from eBay, a rare Bing tennis player. I have only seen one pair of these before in a Christie's auction in the late 1980s. This one is not in the best of condition, but he is all original. One eye is broken, they are tiny blue and black glass ones, if anyone knows where I can find a replacement, let me know.

The clockwork mechanism is in the right shoulder and makes the tennis racket arm move up and down. The head and hands are covered in felt and he has his original cotton tennis whites.

He dates from around 1910.. he was £19.50 and came with a Bing porter who is missing his barrow. Not a bad find?

Tell me about you best eBay finds..