Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Just Like a Museum - Part I

  Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Partly sunny and unseasonably cool

Just Like a Museum

    I'm up early today because I'm expecting 6 cubic yards (4.58 cubic meters) of  special weed-free soil (with peat moss) for my lawn at 07:30 A.M. I have to move 2 cars, and tell the truck where to dump the soil.  But the true reason for my early rise is to write todays excellent post about an upcoming Bonhams auction.

   I was very fortune early on in my blogging, to have the pleasure and honour to write about a special department at Bonhams. This is the special area within the Department titled  Collectibles. Within the division of Toys and Dolls is a very special area of Fine Toys and Soldiers. But it's not the Toys and soldiers that is Bonhams best asset. It's the fine people there, and Mr. James Opie is one of these people in this special special area of Bonhams. Mr. Opie is a renowned authority and expert in this area and has even written a book on the subject.  When you will see some of his descriptions, you'll realize the vast knowledge that he has for these historic treasures.

    When I first got the permission to write about James, and his department, I was elated to say the lease. But James offered me his vast resource of knowledge, and that was even more important. I didn't want to "bother"him, but he offered, and that was the real treasure.  When you look at the Bonhams logo, you see 1793 beside the famous name, and that's the date when Bonhams was established. Imagine all of the merchandise that has changed hands, and the records that this  famous auction house must have. It's truly "like a museum".

     I have to clarify one thing. The items below are collector's models and not toys. These are marvellous collectables that have recorded many of Great Britain's and the world's historic armies, marching bands, and special groups (e.g. fire-fighting). Before any of these items are ever manufactured, special artists from the manufacturer research to ensure accuracy of detail and proportions.

Lot 1002
Britains set 101, Mounted Band of the 1st Life Guards
RARE FIRST VERSION, slotted arms, RED COATS, with Drum Horse and Bombardon (G-F, three original but not matching paint, kettledrums not matching) 1901 (12)


    Set 101 in its first, slotted arm, casting was presented by Britains in two distinct uniform versions, one possibly short lived with predominantly red jackets, and the other in blue. The blue colouration was continued to the third, movable arm, version, shortly after which the basic colour of the jacket changed to gold with red lining. Judging by the number of surviving sets, the 'red' first version is considerably rarer than the 'blue' second version. See also Opie G pages 59 and 62, and Opie B page 45.*

    * Written description Courtesy of Mr. James Opie and Bonhams

If you read the description by James, you will know that the drum set on the above horse 
are not the correct matching ones!

Lot 1008
Britains 12th Lancers from RARE set 8
'plug arm lancers', three and trumpeter without caplines, painted helmets, five with cap lines
 (F, one with two holes is side of horse) 1894-1896 (9)*

* Written description Courtesy of Mr. James Opie and Bonhams

The listing below has to by my favourite. 
It's the original set of moulds from 1917 from Britains, the famous toy soldier company.

Lot 1046
Britains original casting moulds
three part mould for the Mounted General with single movable arm, facility to change separate mould for head (not present) possibly a mould developed in the Paris Office (1917), three part mould for the Indian cavalryman, SECOND VERSION, with engraved lettering under belly, two part mould for late version second grade Life Guard and two part mould for camel rider, facility to change separate mould for head, this example including the Egyptian head (G, some rust to handles) (4)


    Formerly in the collection of Nils Fischer*

    * Written description Courtesy of Mr. James Opie and Bonhams

Lot 1062
Britains Limbered Wagons

sets 1329 Royal Army Service Corps at the gallop and at the walk, set 1330, Royal Engineers at the gallop (G-F), and set 199, Motorcycle Machine Gun Corps, with an additional combination (G-F) (20)

What you have to realize is that all of these toy soldiers were made by hand. The molten lead was pouted into moulds, hardened, and the removed.later the excess lead would be files away, the soldiers, horses and other toys smothered out, and then hand-painted. I've written about these truly marvellous toys before.

What's most amazing is that 2 soldiers or horses or carts will never be the same. 
If you examine any 2 closely, you will see ever so slightly very subtly differences, 
and all due to the touch of a human hand!

Lot 1100
Taylor and Barrett Air Raid Precautions and Fire Services
Auxiliary Fire Service Tender with ladder and two firemen, Auxiliary Fire Service Trailer Pump with hoses and three firemen in gasmasks and six piece ARP Decontamination squad with hose, all in original unlabelled boxes (E, side labels to boxes missing) two Fire Engines with ladders, a wheeled extending Escape Ladder and eight firemen (VG, one fireman head missing) 1940 (24)

 These fascinating toys have been manufactured fora long time, and some companies are still in existence. I like the set above, because it's more current, and "easy" for me to understand and visualize.  It reminds me of the suffering of WWII of the London Blitz, when firemen braved the fires to put out fires and save people. I've seen those fils over and over again since I like history,and you never really get over those horrific times. 

One of the fine features of many auctioneers is the ability to enlarge. I decided to select the
truck and ladder above to illustrate this feature from Bonhams. You can see 2 selections below and the detail that you can see in this enlargement mode.

I especially like to see detail in a toy, and this fine set of firemen and their equipment is excellent.
I like what appears to be 2 brass screws on the side of the truck, and the hose coming out from the back. As well, the 2 hose pipes that join what I assume is a portable gas pump is fantastic for its detail!

 The particular area of toy soldiers within the vast realm of toys has to be the most fascinating. There is just so much history to be found here.  When I was in elementary and high school, I have to admit that I never was interested in history,  especially Canadian history. Fortunately, Canada has been a relatively newer country, and has had to have the millennia of terrible wars and conflict.

But if there had been these fine soldiers, and small items to be taught history, I'm sure I would have been an avid reader and history buff!

Thanks for dropping by,
and as always,
have a great part of the day or night, 
wherever you may be.


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Stacey Bindman,
Blog writer