There were several toy sales in the Midlands in late October, including on October 25 a 500-lot sale conducted by Fieldings (12.5% buyer’s premium) in the oak-panelled Great Hall of Old Swinford Hospital School in Stourbridge.
This was the first specialist sale for the Hagley auctioneers who recently celebrated their second birthday but it was boosted by a single-owner collection, a comprehensive archive of toys from tin-plate to dolls assembled by a local lady over 50 years.
Market-fresh, good quality material from a condition-conscious vendor ensured a substantial turn-out of UK dealers and collectors but it was London’s Geffrye Museum who bid successfully on the telephone for the top lot. This was the lilac-painted 19th century Noah's ark of the flat bottomed type, 24in (61cm) wide, pictured right, decorated with a dove to the roof and opening to reveal 25 pairs of carved wooden and painted animals plus Noah and his wife and assorted other unpainted animals. It sold at £940 (estimate £600-800).
From Victorian wax-poured heads to Norah Wellings felt, the collection provided a chronological history of dolls.
The best-selling fashion doll was a Gaultier dame with an auburn haired bisque swivel head with blue spiral paperweight eyes and finely-painted facial details. Dressed over a white kid body in her original French peasant clothes she sold at £800.
More eagerly contested was one of Kestner’s coveted bisque headed character dolls, this one 9in (23cm) high, dressed in burgundy and gold embroidered doublet and hose as the Jack of Hearts. Not expected to make more than £200, it sold at £780.
A Norah Wellings felt doll dressed as a female RAF officer in a two piece felt suit with matching cap and associated shoulder bag with tights and small black felt shoes sold at £115, while a Door of Hope Mission doll of an Amah children’s nurse carrying a baby in a sling on her back made at the Shanghai Christian mission in the late 1920s sold to a collector in the room at £310.
Unexpected was the £310 bid for an English panda bear with glass eyes, stitched snout and jointed limb body with velvet pads (it was possibly a pre-war Chad Valley production) and there was a lot of interest and a winning bid from the continent for a mid 19th century French optical toy in original sleeve labelled Optique No 5, Jardin des Plantes. Alph: Giroux, Paris, opening to reveal an expanding lithographed garden scene with four carved sectional panels. It sold at £460.
Pick of the tinplate was this locally made Chad Valley clockwork delivery van, pictured right, in a green livery lithographed to the roof with a range of board games. Probably dating from the 1940s it was bought by a collector who lives near to the site of the factory in Birmingham at £280.
Off the back of this £38,000 sale, Fieldings plan to hold more specialist toy sales next year.