Sunday, October 19, 2014

Very Rare Bell Toys from an Avid Collector

Monday, October 19, 2014
Partly cloudy, and seasonally cool

Very Rare Bell Toys from
an Avid Collector 
(Mr. Max Berry)

   In about a month, An exceptional toy collection will be going to action at Bertoia Auctions. The collector is a famous and well-known American international trade lawyer, and he has chosen to sell his fabulous collection. The collector is Mr. Max Berry, and I'm sure he must have lots of memories and mixed feeling about letting go of his collection. Bit the good thing is that other collectors will have the opportunity to own them, and then later in the future, they too will part with these items. That's the essence of all things that we have. We have them but for a brief moment in time, and then we let go of them. But enough of my being serious, and it's time to present just a small sample of three beautiful toys.

   For those who don't know, a bell toy was a popular American toy  in the last quarter of the 19th century,and early into the first quarter of the 20th century. It was a toy that was pulled by a child through the streets or dirt roads by a tethered string, and as it moved, a bell or several  bells would ring. The figures could vary from being historical famous Americans, to caricatures, animals, and people.

What makes Mr. Berry's collection so noteworthy is that many of the items in the collection are quite rare. Some of them I haven't seen, and I am sure, Mr. Berry must have learned a lot about antique toys before he set off on his journey to collect such a fabulous collection. I all be adding more posts on the collection, but you certainly must venture over to the Bertoia Auction website to see for yourself!  

I am only presenting 3 toys today, so that you can focus on them,
rather than my usual number of 10.

What makes the  first bell toy all the more enchanting is that is is reportedly 
the only known example!

I don'y know why it is the only "survivor", unless it was a factory model that never went into production. You should look at these toys in the Picasa slide show mode since you will be able to see these toys in a large size. I've made these images larger so that you can appreciate the fine detail in them.  Also, you can see up close the detail that makes authentic cast iron toys so alluring. Fakes and modern reproductions just do not match up or can't. 

The craftsmen at the time were truly gifted and artisans!

This is another very rare toy, with only three known so far.
I don't know why the character has the city of Chicago embossed on him, nor why the egg is titled "The Columbus Egg".

If you view this image in Blogger's slide mode, you will notice a rear "S"-shaped  axle between the two exterior wheels. It took 1 revolution of the wheel to have the pig (porcine) figure ring the bell with his nose, rather than have a constant ringing. But I'm sure, young children would run as fast as they could to get these toys chiming away!

Here's another rare toy. What's interesting is the use of one of America's symbols- the eagle. We saw this in the first toy, but this eagle is surely cast in a more commanding pose. You can see the ring that was cast in his front talons that would used to tie a piece of cord for pulling. The casting of the eagle once again illustrates the true craftsmanship that went into these toys more than a century ago.

Below is a nice close up of the rear platform with the words "Drummer Boy" raised on the surface.

The ringing or chiming action for this toy is different the first two toys. The first two had the "S"-shaped rear axle, whereas this toy has 2 hands (light blue) on the rear axle that are attached to the underside of the rear platform behind the drummer. The motion of the rear wheel would push the platform back and forth, and push two wires at the back of each elbow  to alternately hit the bell on each side.

I like how Bertoia Auctions placed the toy on the raised plastic platform. You can see up close the detail of how this bell toy chimed.

This close up of the eagle certainly illustrates the fine detail that 
the artisans were capable of at the time.

 The fine detail of the military hat, the epaulettes, and the buttons 
certainly show well on this casting.  What I also like is the remaining paint that has remained on the toy for so long a period.

I hope you enjoyed today's post as much as I did. I'm not an art aficionado,but I know what I like. 
And today's toys certainly are rare, but certainly most interesting and beautiful. 

When my wife and I went to Washington, D.C. (USA) about 15 or more years ago, we visited the fabulous museums there, most noteworthy being the Smithsonian.  We only stayed a more 3 or 4 days, but what what you get to see is unbelievable. One of my favourite museums was the one that contained American items that were both historic and interesting.  I can remember a cross section of one of the large cables that held the George Washington Bridge up in  New York City.

Each huge cable was an outer casing or shell that was comprised of smaller individual cables that were made up of wires all carefully bound to form strong rope-like cables. There must have been about 100 of these cables within the shell. What I liked about the museum was the detail. Another example was how a common wood pencil was made .There was a step-by-step panorama of both the wood and lead components and how the 2 were systematically processed to eventually form a pencil.

For myself, it's not just the rarity or the value of the toy, it's the process and the assembly of the toy that catches my attention.

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