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Alex Riches reviews some of the highlights from the Bonhams toy soldier auction which took place on November 15, 2011
There was something of interest for most collectors in this sale: Britains, Mignot, Heyde, Elastolin, Courtenay were just a few of the makes available to those with deep enough pockets. Heyde commanding most of the highest prices, for example a Heyde 'Nansen' Polar Expedition saw the hammer go down at £4,000 and set of Napoleonic era Prussian Infantry, by the same maker which included thirty pieces with mounted officer, flag bearer and drummers, went for £3,600, personally I think this was the best thing in the sale but way out of my league especially as there was an additional 35% to add to the hammer price in fees. A boxed set of six British cycle troops, also by Heyde, made £1,300 and six 70mm knights with articulated arms and visors made £1,100.
The Britains part of the catalogue was pretty moderate with a couple of exceptions, a boxed Sports Model Open Two-seater Motor Car at £1,400 beat its top estimate, as did the Royal Horse Artillery in full dress at the halt, making £2,000. However you could have picked up a large display set of Gordon Highlanders, the box with an Art Deco label for £360.
Lucotte are going through a quiet phase just now with most lots selling on or just under their lower estimates, Mignot have been out of favour for a some time now and the modern production sets selling below their current retail price, but a group of ships from an earlier set representing the Russo-Japanese sea battle off Port Arthur was an exception, making £3,200. A collector of civilian figures might have been pleased to pick up a boxed T&B Coster series Greengrocery Cart complete for £110 or the three boxed elephant rides two by T&B one pre-war and the other post-war, as well as a plastic version by F.G. Taylor for £130, even with the 25% premium a reasonable buy for a collector.
Britains Garden seems to have gone past its high point selling at or below estimate. Early pre-WWI Britains are still a strong market, but later sets like the Austro-Hungarian Infantry, a boxed set making just £260, these used to make a lot more and a late fifties mint boxed set of Uruguayan 'Artigas' Lancers failed to make its reserve of £50 though there are only four figures in this particular set. One unusual, and I think a very rare, item by one of the lesser known German makers, Josef Bischoff, the two 'penny toy' type vehicles included in this set made this a very attractive item and the hammer price of £1,300 reflected that. Among the Elastolin/Hauser tin plate vehicles a clockwork six wheeled lorry made £1,100 and a beautiful model of a black Mercedes by Tipp & Co was a mid estimate £650 but the Elastolin and Lineol horse drawn vehicles were struggling, many failing to make their bottom estimate.
A set of Britains figures converted by a prominent BMSS member, the late Freddy Green, with the figures beautifully painted to represent German Infantry and Cavalry of about 1900 with regimental flags and guidons went for only £150, to me! Being a member of the same society they were of particular interest and I was pleased to get them for this surprisingly low amount. Collectors are very selective these days but even with a 25% buyers premium they are still willing to pay high prices for quality and rarity, and auctions do have a certain entertainment value.
Please note all prices quoted are before the premium.
Heyde 70mm Napoleonic period Prussian Infantry set (above)
CBG Mignot, The Russo-Japanese War at Sea set
The Tipp & Co Black Mercedes
Britains set 1398, Sports Model open two-seater miniature motor car
The Hausser tinplate clockwork large six-wheel lorry
Heyde 70mm scale Knights in armour which raised a good price on the day
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