Friday, August 22, 2014

An Identification Request for an Impressive Piece of Art

Saturday, August 23, 2014
   Cloudy and cooler temperatures

An Identification Request for an
Impressive Piece of Art

   Today's "story" starts with a request from a reader by the name of Mr. Michael Craig Sr. He sent me some photos, but the quality was weak - from lack of adequate focus. 

Here's what Michel Craig Sr. wrote:

"I have been researching this for some time now and I am trying to see if this particular item has any value.  Personally I find it to be very unique.  From what I have gathered this is considered a pull toy however I cannot date it or even find any markings on it.  I picked it up about a year and a half at a garage sale.  I was wondering if it is worth holding on to. Any information you can give me would be extremely helpful .  Please take a look at these photos when you get a chance. Thank you for your time."

I didn't include Michael's initial photos as they were too out-of-focus. However, I did comment, and as you'll read, I made ma mistake based on what information Michael had provided me from the photos and his description.

 Hi Michael,

Thanks for writing.
If you could send me more images, I'll add a post about your item.
Also, try and use a faster shutter speed so as to keep the item in focus.
There is motion blur,and that reduces how the surface texture appears.

I think your item, from the texture of the surfaces is a reproduction, but I'm not an expert at all, and that's why I'm
asking for more photos, so that I could add a post and see what readers (if any) could add to my opinion.

The firemen don't have the surface texture of authentic cast iron castings from long ago.
However, since the image is out-of-focus, I can't tell if the men are in fact cast iron, or wood,
and the same would apply to the cart (wagon) and horses.

The fire wagon also appears to have a thin diameter axle, whereas old or antique toys have larger diameters.

I also can't read the writing on the cart,or tell if there is a thin yellow veneer (finishing lacquer) to make the items "appear" old.

I hope this helps, and please don't be discouraged by initial comments.

Have you tried local reputable antique dealers in your neighbourhood?

And just one more question:

What are the dimensions of this toy?

Thanking you in advance,

Stacey Bindman

I hope I haven't discouraged you, and that's why I'm asking for more photos.

By asking for more photos,we could see if there are casting ID marks underneath the body of the fire wagon or on the horses or firemen. Also, are there any nuts and bolts keeping (the parts together? -I forgot to add this - I should always proofread what I write!).


 I really appreciate your timely response.  Here are a few more photos.  The dimensions are 41" in length by 9" in height.  It looks like the figures are made out of some kind of plaster or ceramic.  Not sure.  Again thank you for your help.  Do you think this kind of toy has any kind of value whatsoever?

This item measures (length x height) 41" x 9"  or 1.141 M  x .228 M 
It's very large!

When I awoke today, Michael had sent me new photos. I did my "usual", which is to modify the images. In this case, I placed some images against white, and with other photos, I removed the colour from the carpet. What took me by surprise was that these images were very, very large files!
I had to readjust all of the tools in my photo-editing software because the images were so large. It's great to have such large images because toy can really see the detail, as well as the small details of an object.

Because Michael sent me such large files, I was able to enlarge the wheel and the pin that is holding the wheel on to the axle. I've never seen such a connection for an older toy having such an attachment. That's not to say that it didn't exist.

Addenda:  I heard from Michael later in the day.
The wagon is made of wood.

Here's an enlargement of the fireman in the centre of the above photo. You can certainly see what the value is in using large-sized files- You can enlarge and examine parts of an image more easily and see the detail. 

Detail such as what you see above (the shield on the fireman's helmet and the buttons would not be able to be cast in cast iron.  The detail and the expressions  of the different firemen are well done. 
What's also interesting are the hand poses. These are also done well in a "traditional" and more classical style (e..g natural,but posed).

When you read Michael's last reply, you'll read that he mentioned that the fire wagon
was made of a plaster or ceramic.  When Michael had sent me the first photos (out-of-focus), the surface quality of the material (which I thought was cast iron) did not appear like the authentic surface quality of old cast iron pieces. Old cast iron pieces are usually shinier and 
Also the toy as Michael  mentioned is very large.  

So is this very old and even a centenarian (100 year old)? 

I would say probably not.

Has it any value? 

Yea and no. First, you wouldn't find such items at your local department store. It's too big to be on a shelf, and to be stored. Also, the price would be to high for most shoppers. I would expect to find such an item in a boutique or art store where they would be selling contemporary pieces such as this.

But the bottom line, as I just mentioned in my previous post about "unmarked toys", is that
"if you like the item" then keep it or but it.  If I couldn't afford a true antique toy, bout like a reproduction or even an unmarked toy, or even a toy made by a lesser-known manufacturer, 
I'd certainly buy it.

I would suggest that Michael visit a local established art studio. The owners would be much more knowledgeable than I with regard to such art, and would be able to give a more thorough and detailed analysis of this item.

Oh, I forgot one important thing!

I told Michael that I would add a post about his find, and ask my readers if they might have seen such a fine pice of art, and whether or not they could help us out. So if anyone out there has seen such a fine ceramic or plaster vintage-looking fire truck, would you please write us!

Thanks for dropping by,
and as always,
have a great day,
wherever you may be.

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