The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Other Big OO Auction

I understand that the Morlok auction yesterday (mentioned in the most recent two posts) was well attended and well populated with bidders! I pre-bid on just 13 items by phone, and as of this moment I am still waiting to formally hear if I won anything (the auction company was to let winners know formally by e-mail). Keeping my fingers crossed. [UPDATE: I did win five lots, including the one I most wanted to win! More on that another day.]

I only know of one other prior large auction that had a lot of OO gauge at it. It was part 2 of the auction of the George A. Miller collection. It was held April 5-6, 1991 by Lloyd Ralston Toys of Fairfield, Connecticut. Miller was a TCA founding member (#41) and collected more than OO, with a large number of rare and valuable toys (especially circus related) in the auction besides model and toy trains. It must have been quite an event. There were nearly 750 lots in the auction.

Besides publishing the magazine sized booklet on the auction of which this was the cover, they also later sent out results as in how much the lots all sold for. They are, as is probably typical of auctions, all over the map. The most expensive single lot was number 375A, “Lionel #2345 Western Pacific Screen-Top AA Locos” graded C-7 that sold for $3,800. The top five OO lots were:

1. Superior Models (Jerry White) 2-8-8-2 loco and tender. This was custom built in I believe the late 1940s and is lettered “Yukon.” $2,200.
2. Superior Models 2-8-2, another custom model, $1,100.
3. A 4-8-4 that is listed as Schorr (but is actually Scale-Craft, decorated for the Yorkville and Western of Fred Schorr) sold for $800.
4. A camelback 2-6-0 locomotive. It looks scratchbuilt and sold for $525.
5. A lot of 17 tank cars that sold for $500. The photos are very small but the three cars from this lot that I can see all look to be Scale-Craft.

And that was almost 20 years ago so you can imagine what the above would be in 2010 dollars. But to emphasize how over the map it was, a Schorr 2-8-0, a brass import described in the post directly below this one, sold for a mere $30! Or, stated differently, there were also some huge bargains! Lots that I can see easily selling on eBay today for hundreds of dollars sold for as little as $5. A Star-Continental 4-4-2 that looks just like the one photographed in their 1937 catalog (same lettering!) for example sold for only $20!

Besides all the M. P. Davis items (a lot of them! See this post for more info) one of the most interesting lots not yet mentioned to my eye was a lot of 8 Oscar Andresen etched cars that sold for $220; no photos, unfortunately, but extremely rare to be sure. Also I would note that besides locomotives from the layout of Fred Schorr there were also locomotives built by David Sacks and Pierre Bourassa, individuals who have been mentioned in prior posts in this blog.

Back in 1991 it was a bit different world for train sales. There still is a place for the traditional auction but with eBay and a younger generation of buyers, who knows, there may never be another large live OO auction again.

I have been in contact with a major buyer from the Morlok auction; I hope to post photos of some of the more interesting purchases soon, it sounds like he did very well yesterday.

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