Monday, March 31, 2014

A Fine Toy from a Fine Auctioneer

Monday, March 31, 2014
             (Post # 2 of the day)

A Fine Toy 
from a Fine Auctioneer

   Earlier in the week, I finally saw a nice listing of a toy that had been on my mind for a long time. The toy was an  Electricar pair of race cars and tracks made by the  KoKoMo Stamped Metal Company of Kokomo,Indiana (USA). The auctioneer is Case Antiques of  Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee, (USA), had sold this fine toy in 2012. I had originally written to Mr. Case, and I assume that he forwarded  the letter to  Sarah Campbell Drury, the Vice President of Fine and Decorative Arts, of Case Antiques Inc., Auctions and Appraisals

  Sarah Campbell Drury thanked me for my interest, and gave me the go ahead, but mentioned that I should not alter the photos too much so as to change them altogether.  I assured her that I wouldn't. My reason was that if I changed a photo too much, then a bidder might compare my photos to that of the auctioneers or even Liveauctioneers, and see differences. 

  I always ask the collector, manufacturer, auctioneer if I may do improvements on their photos,and even sometimes have altered the background to present the toy against white. Sarah said that was alright, which gave me the idea to show everyone what I do for most photos. 

All Photos Courtesy Case Antiques, Inc.

The above image is a straightforward screen capture. I use a program called SnagIt that is easy to use, and relatively inexpensive. A screen capture simply takes whatever image I see on my screen and "grab it". I then save it for later editing with my software.

When images are uploaded by anyone, they can look totally different on their screen, to that of ebay or Liveauctioneers. On the host computer, the images may look great,but downloaded elsewhere,they may look different. Even my improved photos may look totally different on  your computer.

Case Auctioneers did an excellent job with their photography. There are 11 photos, superbly styles (composed and arranged), in focus, and properly colour-balanced. 

On my computer the photos are slightly reddish and appear underexposed. Also there are a few small pieces of dust from the toy, some minor scuff marks, and some small circular blurs caused by dust on the CCD (the image sensor that captures photos nowadays. Before, that was done with film.

In the photo above, you'll notice that I've added the Case Auctioneers Logo,and the copyright notice.

The photo above illustrates what I did.  As I mentioned, this photo may looked totally different on your computer.  I removed some of the dust marks, scuff marks,and dust, whitened the background, adjusted the exposure, and removed a bit of red from the photo.

What I will say, without a doubt, is that I wouldn't hesitate for a milli-second to bid on an item from Case Auctioneers or any  seller, dealer or other auctioneer who had slightly imperfect photos. Most people base their bids on the reputation of the person or dealer, and the description. Also, you can always ask for more photos,or phone the company if you have any questions.

I'm sure by now, you've come to realize that with so many photos, you know that this company is very professional when it comes to selling. What I easily see and admire is that they have people who are well-experienced in composing their items for being presented to the viewer. I'm sure many of their specialist are usually on the photo shoot to ensure everything is photographed well!

With the above photo, I did what is called "dodging". I t's an old photographic darkroom term, and today simply means that I lighted up an area. In this case, it was the motor parts under the car frame. 

What I like about these KoKoMo Electricars is how simple the mechanical and electrical system, but how well they were built. Also, these would be exceptionally easy to restore, if someone wanted to do so.
Again , I dodged the underside to show you the motors better. I haven't changed anything,but just lighted the area.  in the studio, it would a simple matter of adding more light via an extra studio light or silver cardboard reflectors.

Here's a great close-up showing how the electricity was picked up by the front silver rod. From there, the wires transmitted the electricity to the motor and allowed the gears to move the tires and wheels.

This is great photography skills, with great photos to illustrate how this KoKoMo Electricar  actually worked.  I would assume that there was a transformer that powered the steel track, and with that would allow the cars to speed up or slow down.

Now if someone out there has more information on this Indiana company, please write to me. I'd like to know more about the company , this fine car set, and of course, if the company made other toys.

Thanks for dropping by,
and as always, 
have a great part of the day or night, 
wherever you may be.
please feel to write me at:

A Very Early Hubley Train

Monday, March 31, 2014
              (Sunny and milder)

A Very Early Hubley Train

   I was browsing yesterday, when I came across a very old train made by Hubley. I was looking on the Bertoia Auctions website, when  an image of the train appeared. The orange platform attracted my attention, and so I investigated further. As it turned out,this particular toy was manufactured about the late 1890's!

c. late 1890's, an impressive cast iron toy rendition of an arched tramway with steam output locomotive operated by central clockwork mechanism: cast trestles support split round track with centre supported board containing the dual clockwork gear. 30" diameter (762 mm). Break to one base trestle & tie support, repaint to trestles, board and clockwork professionally made for track, overall (VG Condition".*

 Description courtesy of Bertoia Auctions*

Those cast iron  vertical posts and the yellow/orange combination archways are beautiful to look at. 

 I like the old font style, which back then was modern. Also,the toy was patented on April 11, 1893.
Just a great photograph of a great antique toy!

There is a small hook hanging underneath the train locomotive. I would assume that the train moved around the track buy being attached to the horizontal rod that you see below. I'm also assuming the mechanism was windup, and that once wound, the rod or arm below would be hooked up to the locomotive and move the train and coal car in a circle. 

What's interesting to note is that the tracks  do not have ties, thus the arm below can move around in a circle. If you look closely at the above photos, you can see the spar between the left and right side of the rails.

It's truly amazing to be able to find older toys that I've never seen before.

Thanks for dropping by,
and as always,
have a great part of the day or night
wherever you my be,
Please feel free to write me at:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Very Rare Gely Windup Motorcycle

   Sunday, March 30, 2014
(Strong winds and blowing snow for the whole day!)

A Very Rare Gely (Georg Levy)
Windup Motorcycle

   I'm very fortunate to have many fine people who help me out, and one of them is Mr. Frederick Pals from Holland. He's very easygoing, and has allowed me to photo-edit his images. He was even so pleased with the effect, that he asked me (and I readily agreed) to make a slide show for his brother who is studying photography, to show how the editing was done.  What's great about having European friends is that they sell European toys, and usually have many more since the toys are more readily available there.

   I wrote Frederick if I could go one step further with my photo-editing, and he agreed. I'll send him another mini slide show, as this effect is very easy to do.  The reason I asked Frederick if I could go further with the photo edit was because this particular toy is very, very rare. I felt it deserved to catch the reader's attention even more.  Frederick's listings on ebay are easily recognized because he always places his toys against a background of a book or two. I'd certainly like to see his book collection, because books are great resources when you find toys without enough description to them.

It's always interesting to see which toys are the rarest. Georg Levy (Gely) manufacture red many beautiful lithographed tin toys at that time,yet this particular model is very rare. For the image above, I simply removed the colour of the books photo, and the colour of the foundation (what the toy was resting on). I then did a "motion blur' to give the illusion that the toy was moving. This particular motorcycle came in 2 variations. One is the above with the spoked wheels, and the other was with plane wheels with only the cream colour.

The photo above and below are Frederick's style when presenting his merchandise.  The book that he's using in this case is one from Rich Bertoia of the highly-renowned Bertoia Auctions  in New Jersey, USA. Not only is he part of the successful American auction house, but he's an author of antique toy motorcycles. 

I always wonder why so many  American toy manufacturers in the 1920's-1930's were producing such less sophisticated toys (cast iron) compared with the European manufactures of the time. The reason has to be more than simply cost, and one day, I'll have to research my own question to find the answer. However, by the early 1890's ,Germans and Europeans had successfully developed colour lithography on tin, and the process readily transferred to toy production.

You can see Rich Bertoia's name (blurred) on the right side above the lady passenger.

I cropped the top (cut off part of the photo) so the entire foundation (why the toy is resting on) occupied the whole picture frame. With less distraction, the toy shadow adds a nice balance to the actual toy. 

In this photo, Rich Bertoia's book happens to be opened on a page that has the same model of toy as Frederick happens to be selling on ebay.

Here is the actual book photo of the toy from Rich's book.

If you go to Google Blogger's slide mode, you'll be able to see today's photos larger and much better against a dark background.

Thanks for dropping by,
and as always,
have a great part of the day or night,
wherever you may be.
Please feel free to write to me anytime at

Saturday, March 29, 2014

3D Printing Meets the Model Railroad - Part I

Thursday, March 27, 2014
(Sunny and cold to be followed by snow)

3D Printing Meets the Model Railroad
(Part I)

   I joined Facebook a couple of months ago in order to try and promote my blog. I wrote a post about Facebook, and it's a great site. I can see why Google is trying to promote their Google+.  There is social media,you can post on a daily basis in the blog style with photos, there are advertisements , and of course, you can meet people. 

  I found someone by the name of  Dan Kummer on Facebook who had some very interesting 3D items. I've written about 3D printing last year, but Dan's items were closer to toys, and his items were great. Naturally, I asked a lot of questions, and Dan said that he had some people that he worked with, and they would be better suited anymore-experienced to help me out.  I received an e-mail a few days later from Sherri Johnson who owns a company by the name of CatsPaw Innovations, LLC.  Sherri  wrote back, and provided me al kinds of information, websites, and of course here own website and Facebook page. I was quite impressed at the business acumen of this lady and how well she has been able to set up her business in such a short time! Sherris's partner is Yolanda Hayes, and both are working very hard to get this 21st century company going, which it is doing quite well!

  For today, I'm just going to introduce and talk about some of Sherri's interesting items that she has produced and sells. In the ensuing post, I will be more technical and provide lots of information. For those who don't know, 3D printing is a method of producing real three-dimenional items in the same way as laser jet or inject printing. A dispenser head moves back and forth and instead of adding ink to paper, adds hot liquid plastic from bottom to top, until an item is created.

  When you think just how fast technology has evolved in the last 30 years in the realm of cell phones, computers, and so forth, you can imagine what 3D printing will be like in 5 years and 10 years. The potential for this industry is limitless, and creativity is infinite.

Sherri sent me the link below to a short but very interest video that shows a printer making the character Yoda from the movies. The video excellently illustrates how a 3D printer produces an item in speeded-up time-lapse video. In the video, the machine is pruning with a 1mm (very thin) plastic spool), and later compares the results to a 2 mm spill of material.

   Sherri has been marketing and promoting her company by attending model railroad expositions, because one of her company's product lines is in fact model railroad items. The company produces 4 sizes of accessories:
O-Scale      (1:48)
S-Scale       (1:64)
HO-Scale    (1:87)
N-Scale      (1: 160)

One of my questions to Sherri  had to do with what I call "banding". Since the printing is created with layering and spools of plastic that is melted, you tend to see round lines or bands rising from top to bottom (you can see that in the photos below). Sherri said that you can use very fine snapper to initially smooth out the bandd, and continue with  acetone ( use in a well-ventialted area) in order to smooth out the lines so that they are less apparent.  I'll stop talking here, and continue as I present the photos below.

Since 3D printing is based on reproductions of real-life living beings and things, the output is limitless. There are what I assume are called software engineers or even "techies" who are creating all kinds of items that can be produced by 3D printers.

That BBQ scene above is great, especially with the dog having "stolen" a snack!

Here is a close-up to show you just how small these printers can print.

The photo above illustrates the different scales and sizes that Sherri and her company are working with.

If you watch cable TV, by now you've probably seen at least 3 programs dedicated to Appalachian "creatures", Bigfoot, and a whole host of other "creatures". I would assume the popularity of this being has caught on in the model railroading world, and having a Yeti or Bigfoot in your first is a definite "must have". You can see the banding here, but it's less apparent as this particular model is the largest size.  Of course,in the future, the technology will allow for much smaller diameter filaments of plastic so that the bands will not show.

I keep forgetting just how small these printers can print!

This is great!
That truck came out quite well, and I assume that acetone was used to smooth out the exterior.
I like the storage back in the truck bed, the water cooler, the gas tank, and the 2 cindery cinderblocks. That ladder is fantastic as well.  What's fascinating is how small-sized figures such as people can be "printed out" in different poses. I like how the man's arms are bent.

Here is the actual size of the bricks in the truck photo. 
It's unbelievable just how small items can be printed.

Love that cat, and the man resting against what I assume is an outhouse (outdoor bathroom).
I think that a plastic base is need as the starting point for all 3D prints. I assume one calls the output prints, since the process is printing, but it's still "strange" to me to call this printing.

These are the colours that Sherri provides to her customers.

I saved my favourite for last . The bus comes as a kit that you'll  assemble at home.
Sherri mentioned that the bus took 3 hours to print. I remember when my first inkject printer took what seemed to be a long time to print an 8" x 10 " (300 dpi) or  8202 mm x 254 mm colour print. In a couple of years, this bus will I'm sure be able to print out in much less time. I would also think that the more expensive commercial models could print this item in much less time. 

This latest technology is here to stay.  I've read that NASA (the US space agency) is having contractors use this technology to produce some of the items for future space items. Their rationale is that the technology is less costly that producing with castings and moulds. I'm sure though that safety is of the first concern, and the most important items rare left to perhaps the traditional technologies.

That's all for today, and I'll for sure be writing the next instalment tomorrow or later in the week.
The uses of such technologies are endless. I had asked Sherri about 3D scanners to capture items and then "translate" them into data for printing.  Sherri in fact answered that she has a 3D scanner, and is in fact learning to work with the scanner and  the 3D printer! If I ever get down to Atlanta, Georgia, I got to meet these great businesswomen (Sherri and Yolanda) and of course the machines!

I'll be writing part II about Sherri and Yolanda in the near future. Sherri sent me so much information, that I need to read it and digest it first before writing.  I really appreciate the time and effort that Sherri spent in writing me to answer all of my questions.

Thanks for dropping by to visit,
and as always, 
have a great part of the day or night, 
wherever you may be,
please feel free to write me at:

A Beautiful Keystone Toy Bus

Saturday, March 29,2014
           (Cloudy and warmer)

A Beautiful Keystone Bus

   I posted about Mr. Red McHoe yesterday from VMCH on ebay and  Red's Toy Parts on his own net website. He had some very nice case iron toys for sale. He also had today's item - a beautiful toy bus that children could tide on. I was going to add this item to the cast irons, but it's  pressed steel, and I decided to post it separately. 

   The most interesting fact about the Keystone company was that it was also in the photography business.  I still remember the name from the New York Times, when they'd advertise in the Sunday newspaper. But they also manufacturers toys!

This Keystone bus is described by Red as the "Holy Grail" of Keystone toys. It's a very large riding toy, with a top that opens up to show a nice bus seat  and crossbars for support of a child while riding the toy. The toy was modelled after a Packard bus of the times, and measures a substantial 31" in length ( 787 mm). Because of its' rarity and large size, these toys are priced high in terms of old toys for sale.

What's interesting to note is that the wooden horizontal steering handle connects inside the top to a smaller sttering wheel that allows the toy to partly turn. You can see the limits of the turning radius in the underside photo below. 

What's always interesting for me is the fact that toys like this have lasted so long and still are in one piece with all of their original components  It's "harder" to find anything today that lasts for long!

That's for dropping by,
and have a great part of the day or night
wherever you may be,