Friday, November 13, 2015

An Antique Dealer Sells his Exceptional Collection of Mechanical Banks-Introduction

Friday, November 13, 2015
Overcast and warmer than usual

An Antique Dealer Sells his 
Exceptional Collection of Mechanical Banks-\

   A few weeks ago, I was browsing Liveauctioneers, when I came across a recent auction managed by Bertoia Auctions. The auction was for an exceptional collection of cast iron mechanical banks. However, "the story behind the story" was even more interesting. Mr. Clive Devenish, a successful antiques dealer in Nevada, was auctioning his collection through Bertoia Auctions. I knew there had to be a great story here, because here we had an antiques dealer using a world-renowned toy auction company to sell his collection.

   I sent Mr. Devenish an e-mail through Liveauctioneers, and in no time at all, I received a reply. We communicated back and forth, and Mr. Devenish sent me a Bertoia catalogue from the auction. I was willing to pay him, but he would haven one of this. I was very grateful for his generosity and thanked him.

  Many of the questions that I had were readily answered when I received the catalogue yesterday, and read the introduction about Mr. Devenish. His bio (biography) is quite interesting, and his knowledge of mechanical banks would rank him as an advanced collector, almost bordering on "expert".  But what I was impressed with, and had forgotten is the fact that Clive Devenish  decided to collect with a passion. He made contacts with associations, collectors, and experts, and researched his newfound hobby. Furthermore, his ardor for collecting, made me realize something. I'm sure that as an antiques dealer, Clive has become an "authority" on what he sells through his antiques store. What I realized (and many people forget) is that when you buy something special in a store or anywhere, part and parcel of the cost is the experience and research that the person or company that you are dealing with comes with. For myself, I know that when I buy something, I want a company with a track record, good customer reviews and experiences, and knowledge to back up any questions. Many people do not think of this as a tangible asset in terms of where one goes shopping, but I do. If I am happy with a particular product or store, I prefer to return again and again, even if the cost is more. Other people prefer to "shop around".

 I decided to add something to the introduction for Clive's post. Most people have no idea how a catalogue is made or photographed, so I decided to add a small bit of information to explain how colour is accurately reproduced in a catalogue when photographers take photographs.

  The reasons that I added the information below is to help people understand the background of fine companies and part of their costs. Also, the catalogues from Bertoia Auctions are produced superbly, and it helps to understand the quality of photography and the reproduction in their catalogues.

  What you see below is called a "ColorChecker" from the x-rite company. You place this in a photograph and take a photo. From there, you can use a software program or printing program to accurately correct any colour problems that you might have. The ColorChecker is a 3-step process, although you can use just the checker rather than all 3 components.

I scanned Clive & Bertoia Auctions cast iron bank pages using the ColorChecker. I wanted to reproduce as accurately as possible the high quality of photography and colour that both Clive and Bertoia Auctions wanted.

There still may not be 100% accuracy because your colour monitor or the Google Blogger website may create different colour.  The scan below on my scanner is the unaltered scan. If you comparer this to the "corrected" one below it, you will see a slight "warm colour overall" The improper colour is yellow or red and ever-so-slight. But that's the level of quality demanded by poor photographers and their clients!

Below are the names of the colours on the chart. For the white-to-black tones, there are numbers that can be read in a photo-editing software (e.g. Photoshop) and adjusted accordingly for accuracy.

Below is a scan with the Colorchecker in place.
Everything looks  acceptable, but the image below was corrected with information from the ColorChecker.

You can see how I have been able to try and bring out the quality from the
 Bertoia Auctions catalogue.  I purposely left the resolution low and that's why the writing is a bit soft-focus or fuzzy. Even with copyright notices and watermarks, I have found photos of people who have helped me out all over the Net!

I enlarged this photo even more. Here you can see the colour quality and photographic detail of the
2 mechanical banks even more. However, with a low-resolution, you can see the fuzziness of the type (writing).

I once purchased a Bertoia Catalogue on ebay, and I was very much impressed. What impressed me ever so much was the descriptions of the toys. Auctioneers' catalogues are a great resource for learning about toys, especially in the case of Clive Devenish's collection.  By having an auction exclusively of mechanical banks, the information is limited in scope, 
with all the emphasis on a specific toy.

Most of the cast iron banks were an American novelty almost exclusive to North America.  Cast iron toys were also mostly unique to North America, although Sweden and a company did make cast iron toys.   These toys fascinate me for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost is their weight. They are quite heavy. Yet their costs at the time were relatively low. Shipping costs across America were low at the time, since the railroad industry kept rates low as part of the agreement for having been given lots of land and monies to develop the Trans-Continental Railroad. As a typical example, you might read a catalogue describing shipping for a dozen banks of the identical type weighting 80 pounds!

The second reason for my fascination with this genre of toy is the fact that there were so many different types of these toys manufactured. Each one has a key to wind up a spring or mechanism. You can also "cock" (like the hammer of a gun), the mechanism, then release the tension or potential energy with a lever. The coin (these are banks) will then either disappear or be "thrown" to an end depository.

The bank below is exceptional for its' condition (near mint) and its' complexity. 
I'll let you read the description to see how it operates.

Here is a beautiful hand-painted bank. The cat is in a stealth-like/creeping stance, and moves towards its prey. In this case, the coins are deposited into a slot. The colours are exceptional, especially for the tiger-stripped cat.

Of course, when you have the original wooden box that they toy came with, there is an added value. What also is interesting is the printer's advertising block. Ink would be added to the block, and a transfer would be applied to paper.

If you read the written descriptions, you'll read  the actual operation of the toy
 and how it  works

I would be willing to bet that Clive and his close friends had lots of fun "examining" how these things worked.  I used "examining", because using the word "playing" just wouldn't be quite professional for an antiques dealer. Of courses, what Clive and friends do in the after-working hours would be 1000% OK! 

I have a reproduction mechanical bank, and whenever a young child visits, I get out the bank to show him or her. Of course, it's all for the young guest. I wouldn't want anyone to think that a soon-to-be 67 year old still plays with toys.

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

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