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Rare J. Chein & Co. Toys Mark Single-Owner Collection Sale

by WorthPoint Staff (08/04/09).

Bidder interest will be keen for the group of Chein toys--a 17-inch Hercules Ferris Wheel (circa 1950s), a Playland Merry-Go-Round carousel with children seated atop horses and swan coaches, and a very rare Aeroplane Whirler Space Ride (circa 1960s)--at a single-owener auction hosted by Clarity Sells Auction Gallery on Aug. 15, 2009

Bidder interest will be keen for the group of Chein toys--a 17-inch Hercules Ferris Wheel (circa 1950s), a Playland Merry-Go-Round carousel with children seated atop horses and swan coaches, and a very rare Aeroplane Whirler Space Ride (circa 1960s)--at a single-owener auction hosted by Clarity Sells Auction Gallery on Aug. 15, 2009

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – A large single-owner collection comprising some 400 lots in an array of categories—to include Chein toys, Coca-Cola collectibles, framed art and lithograph prints, Indian art and artifacts, vintage dolls, toy trains and airplanes, Americana and more—will be sold in an online, phone and absentee bid auction slated for Saturday, Aug. 15.

The collector—is a gentleman from north Georgia who, out of modesty, has requested anonymity until after the sale is over—with help from his wife, accumulated hundreds of items over a period of 40 years.

“Once you step inside the home, where items are kept on shelf after shelf and room after room, time flies by as stories reveal the origins of his favorite pieces,” said Steve Poteet of Clarity Sells Auction Gallery, which will be handing the sale.

Poteet says he spent four days in the home, cataloging the auction, and expected bidder interest will be keen for the several toys made by J. Chein & Co. Included are a 17-inch Hercules Ferris Wheel (circa 1950s), a Playland Merry-Go-Round carousel with children seated atop horses and swan coaches, and a very rare Aeroplane Whirler Space Ride (circa 1960s), depicting what was, for the time, futuristic space travel. Production of this toy was very short-lived, and only a few examples are known to exist today.

Chein toys are generally rare and coveted by collectors. The consignor bought five of the toys at a garage sale in 1972, for just $5 each. Not long ago, someone from the PBS series “Antiques Roadshow” who’d heard about the toys paid the man a visit. “He offered me $500 for all five and I showed him the door,” the collector said. “One of the toys alone was appraised at $1,200, and that was many years ago.”

A collection of arrow heads.

A collection of arrow heads.

For more than 75 years, J. Chein & Co. produced some of the finest lithographed tin toys ever made in America. Founded in 1903 by Julius Chein, the New Jersey-based firm almost immediately started making wonderfully colored but inexpensive toys—from model amusement rides and wind-up characters to spirited banks and sand pails. Its dime-store offerings delighted both kids and collectors.

Indian art and artifacts, currently filling one corner of a basement room in the consignor’s home, include arrowheads (or points), found by the collector himself on digs in north Georgia and throughout the Southeast. “I found lots of points and pieces of broken pottery in a campsite at Carter’s Dam, in Adairsville (Georgia),” he said. “One time I found a skeleton, but I didn’t keep it. I called the warden.”

The Coca-Cola collectibles include a pair of horse-drawn Coke wagons, one old and one new. The older one—purchased by a friend’s father in the 1930s, when the boy was just 11 years old—will attract more bidder interest, but the newer one (circa 2005), is a nice example, too. Also offered will be a 6-pack of Coke in a rare aluminum case.

Framed lithographic print titled “Pillars of a Nation.”

Framed lithographic print titled “Pillars of a Nation.”

More than 100 framed art and lithograph prints will cross the block. One lot of note is a framed print depicting the experience of immigration titled “Pillars of a Nation.” A man whose grandfather passed through Ellis Island in New York when he emigrated from Hungary in 1907 commissioned the work. It comes with a certificate of authenticity on the reverse side, and is signed and numbered (3,094/20,000).

Also to be sold will be a pair of companion C.M. Russell screened prints, produced from watercolor paintings done in the early 1900s; a documented work by the legendary artist Chesley Bonestell (subject of the book “Worlds Beyond – The Art of Chesley Bonestell”), titled “Saturn as Seen From Titan;” and an intriguing original portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, depicting the former French leader in a seated pose, done around 1865.

Antique and papier-mache and wood horse.

Antique and papier-mache and wood horse.

Vintage dolls and toys include a papier-mâché and wood horse, sitting atop tiny spoke metal wheels, quite old and rare; porcelain face dolls, produced by manufacturers worldwide; celluloid dolls from the 40s and 50s (U.S.-made); some papier-mâché clown dolls in immaculate condition, (from his wife’s large clown collection, signed; an original Kewpie doll in a grass skirt; and toy airplanes (one with a gas engine, World War II edition).

Glassware will include a Dale Tiffany style-signed dragonfly art glass lamp (for which $10 was paid, at an auction); Avon bottles; a beautiful vase, 34 inches tall with a 6-inch base; another vase, 12 inches tall; and eight Christmas-themed Smucker’s jelly plates. Also offered will be a pair of Fu Lions on carved teakwood stands. The lion cubs play on their mother’s back in carved pink gemstones—possibly jade.

The consignor has been collecting “stuff” (as he calls it) since moving his family to north Georgia in the 1960s. He got the bug while working for Virgil’s Auctions in Adairsville, in the 1960s. “I worked the floor, but we’d go on trips to New York and New Jersey, looking for items to bring back and sell. Some of it I ended up buying for myself, like a porcelain frog I paid a quarter for. About a week later a guy offered me seven bucks for that frog. That’s when I realized there was profit in collecting.”

Only about 20 of the 400 lots in the sale won’t be from the single-owner collection. Those 20 lots are mainly Chinese porcelain pieces and antique view cameras which are from another southern collector.

The auction will begin promptly at 11 a.m., EST. Previews will be held by appointment only, from Aug. 10-14. For more information, call Clarity Sells at (423) 339-5581 or, you can e-mail them at consignors@claritysells.com. A 24-page, full-color illustrated auction brochure may be ordered, also by phone, at a cost of $12.95 (postage paid). Internet bidding will be facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.com.

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2 Responses to “Rare J. Chein & Co. Toys Mark Single-Owner Collection Sale”

  1. she says:

    Hi, may i kindly order the complete amusement park (pictures above).
    My nephew really love toys like those.
    How much will it cost?
    Thanks :)

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