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The American firm J&E Stevens, of Cromwell in Connecticut, started out in the 1840s manufacturing cast-iron hardware, but its legacy would be toys.

A turning point in the company’s development came in 1869 with the production of its first cast-iron mechanical bank. Such was its popularity that for the next 30 years, the company produced more than 300 different mechanical bank models.

Among them is this example made in the form of William Tell shooting an apple on top of his son’s head. Patented in 1896, the bank is activated by sliding back the launcher on top of the rifle, placing a coin on top and pressing the figure’s right foot. It fires the coin into the castle, knocking the apple off the boy’s head and raising his arm.

It is estimated at £250-300 at Mitchells’ February 24 sale in Cockermouth, Cumbria. or see this item on


A pair of Chinese jades that belonged to Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) will be offered at Tayler & Fletcher’s sale, in Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire, on February 22.

The vase and brush washer were sold in Christie’s sale of Thatcher’s property in December 2015 and come with an original auction catalogue.

The 6in (14.5cm) pale green two-handled jadeite vase dates from the 20th century and is carved in low relief with scrolling lotus and a chain connecting the cover with the vase.

The brush washer is surmounted with a sinuous Chilong dragon and is presented on a brass-inlaid rosewood stand.

Estimate £300-500. or see this item on


Props from the Harry Potter film franchise are going under the hammer in a two-day sale of entertainment memorabilia at Ewbank’s of Surrey on March 1-2.


Estimated at £300-500 is this production-made sealed envelope containing Harry’s invitation to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the 2001 film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It has a printed seal to the rear and is one of two styles of envelopes made for production.

Elsewhere, a call-sheet for the final day of principal photography for the Harry Potter film series, is going on offer with a guide price of £300-500. Dated June 12, 2010, it is signed by Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe, and dedicated to Peter Harvey, the actor’s personal driver during filming.


The Belgium-born artist George Weissbort (1928-2013) was described by the late art critic Brian Sewell as “painting the right pictures at the wrong time”.

Mallams is hoping now is the right time, as a collection of 30 works from the late artist’s studio in The Forest of Dean will go under the hammer in Cheltenham on March 7.

Among a series of signed oils on boards, is this 12½ x 17in (32 x 44cm) still-life of tomatoes and a Chinese vase dated 1951 and estimated at £150-250.