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    See Below for listing of Perelman Museum Mechanical Banks and their prices.

Main Antique Digest
, October, 1988
 
Toy Museum Robbed, Sold, Grabbed
by Lita Solis-Cohen
and Samuel Pennington
 
     The Perelman Antique Toy Museum in Philadelphia, long considered the best of its kind in the country, has closed its doors. By the time this paper is printed, the best of the toys will probably have been grabbed by high-rolling collectors in a spirited tag sale at the museum.
     Toy collector and paper tube manufacturer Leon Perelman, 77, sold his collection of toys, dolls, and mechanical banks to New York art and toy dealer Alexander Acevedo a few days after thieves tried to make off with the collection.

 Acevedo also bought the museum building, a colonial brick townhouse built for Captain James Abercrombie in 1758 in the Society Hill section of the city.
     Neither Perelman nor Acevedo would confirm the price paid for the museum and its contents, but trade sources said the price was $3 million for the collection of about 3000 toys and banks and another $1.1 million for the building.
     Perelman restored the house and opened his private museum in 1969. About 40 to 50 visitors a day paid $2 for adults or 90 cents for children to see the approximately 3000 toys on display.
     Perelman said he closed the museum after two gunmen bound and gagged caretaker/curator Michael Tritz, 67, and made off with about 100 antique marbles on August 5.

     According to Tritz, it was twenty after nine on a Friday morning when the thieves entered the museum.
     "I was waiting to let the people in the museum, when two white men came in; one wore a handkerchief, the other didn't even bother to cover his face. They were all hopped up and very nervous," Triz recalled.
     Triz said one man put a gun to his head. "It seemed as big as a cannon right in my face." Then, the thieves bound and gagged Tritz and took him downstairs to the ladies' room. "I heard one of them upstairs hammering at the display cases. I thought he was getting into all of them . . . but all he could break was the case with marbles in it on the third floor," Tritz recounted.
     Tritz was untied by a cleaning woman who found him in the ladies' room after the gunmen had left with the antique marbles. Apparently, the 5/8" thick bullet-proof glass foiled the thieves' attempt to get into the other cases. Tritz estimated one of the thieves spent about 45 minutes trying while the other watched the door.
     According to Tritz, Perelman, who has an apartment on the top floor of the building, was away at the time of the robbery. "When the maid told him about it, Perelman said, 'That's it, nobody's life is worth that'," Tritz said.
     Perelman closed the museum immediately. Acevedo reportedly had been making offers to buy the collection for some time.
     Perelman said it would be very difficult to trace the missing marbles in the marketplace. Even the rare sulphides (marbles with sculpted figures or animals of gypsum or clay embedded in the glass) are probably not unique. Perelman said he has no photographs of them.
     Acevedo and Perelman shook hands on the deal on August 9, and the next two days two women on Acevedo's staff inventoried the museum.
     The sale was supposed to be a big secret. There was no report of the robbery in the local press. In fact, the Philadelphia Daily News had a feature article on the museum on August 17. M.A.D. learned of the sale from Mimi Handler, an editor for Early American Life, who was doing a Christmas issue story on toy banks. She called the museum to confirm its hours and was told it was closed. Based on her tip, we were able to interview Tritz.


 
     The trade heard the rumor at Renninger's when Tony Koveleski, a toy dealer from Scranton, came to the museum two weeks after the robbery and found it closed, and Tritz told him of the robbery and sale.
     Perelman's mechanical banks are considered the finest study collection of banks, and his assortment of animated cap pistols is the best anywhere. (When the trigger was pulled, the figures mounted on the guns barrels would buck, kick, or bite, and the motion exploded the cap.)
     The early American tin toys and cast-iron fire engines, horse-drawn carriages, and other vehicles are also notable, as are the lithographed paper toys and some rare automatons. There is also a representative collections of dolls and doll houses.
     The banks, Perelman's special interest, were given plenty of space in showcases, but the toys were crowded into display cases on the upper floors, an arrangement that may not have enthralled children but amazed knowledgeable collectors.
     It took appraisers Donal Markey, a mechanical and still bank expert from Stamford, Connecticut, and Bill Bertoia, a toy specialist from Vineland, New Jersey, nearly two weeks to catalog and appraise the collection.
     Friends of Perelman say he had tried in vain to give his toy museum to the city of Philadelphia, but he could never conclude negotiations. When he wanted to put up an antique carousel he had bought, the city would not grant the permit. John V. Alviti, director of the Atwater Kent Museum, said Perelman never approached the museum about the gift. The Atwater Kent Museum is the repository of all the city's historical artifacts and collections.
     Acevedo has no plans to reopen the museum or try to keep the Perelman collection together. He planned to sell it, first in a tag sale from the museum building and later from his shop at 996 Madison Avenue in New York, which is currently undergoing renovation.
     Acevedo invited the big spenders for the first session of the tag sale scheduled for Friday, September 16, after M.A.D. went to press. Forty collectors and dealers were to be given first pick at this invitation-only sale, which Acevedo called the "Great Grab of Eighty-Eight."
     The conditions were stiff. "They have to buy $50,000 worth of toys, or they get nothing." said Acevedo. "They'll come in for a preview at 8. At 9:30, I'll hand out price lists, and everybody will get shocked. They'll have to pick what floor they want."
     Banks, dolls, and American clockwork toys are on the third floor. Cast-iron horse, auto, and fire toys along with cap pistols are on the second floor. Early American tin, lithographed paper, and penny toys are on the first floor. The attic, filled with cartons of toys, is not part of the sale.
     Acevedo said he originally planned to handcuff partners and husband-wife teams so the tag grab would be an equal contest for single collectors. He gave up that idea because he was afraid someone would get hurt. The solution was, everybody gets a different color pen, but teams only get one pen. They have to sign the tag with that pen.
     "At 10, I'll explode a little cap pistol, and the great grab will begin," said Acevedo. Perelman had the best collection of cap pistols in the U.S.. Acevedo said he'd fire off one made by Ives.
     The buyers will not be permitted to take toys out of the glass cases. Perelman was famous for not letting other collectors touch his toys. Once in the glass cases, the toys stayed there. One Pennsylvania dealer who planned to attend the sale grumbled, "Don Markey takes ten minutes examining my $70 still banks with his loupe, but they expect us to buy without looking."
     The possible prices were the subject of a lot of presale gossip at Brimfield the week before the sale with some dealers predicting invites would just throw up their hands and walk out without buying anything. Acevedo said the cheapest toy would probably be a still bank for $50, while the top-priced item will be "a quarter of a million." He declined to say which toy or bank it would be.
     Collectors speculate that the banks will be the big ticket items. "There are several toy banks that could be in the $200,000 range," said one dealer. He names the Freedman's Bank, the Darkey and Watermelon (also known as Football and only example of its kind known), and the Japanese Ball Tosser.
     Some things were to be lotted all the cap pistols in one lot, trains in another lot, and some rare brass and bronze bank patterns in another lot.
     Acevedo would not discuss the names of the private collectors who were invited but said one was coming from Hawaii. Dealers included the Weiss twins, Steven and Leon, from Hillman-Gemini in New York, Tom Sage, James Maxwell, Bob and Marianne Schneider, Richard Wright, and Noel Barrett, all from Pennsylvania, which is the center of the toy collecting world.
     With a hurricane approaching the East Coast, Acevedo said, " I don't even care if it rains." There is little doubt that the Perelman collection will be devastated by the heavy hitters, but if there is anything left, there are two clean-up dates. The collection will be offered to dealers on September 30 and to collectors on October 7.
     "Do you think there'll be anything left for us schleppers then?" wondered one collector.

Perelman Museum, Robbed, Sold, Grabbed
October 1988 article

 
Descriptions and prices listed below are from booklet showing cost for mechanical banks at the Perelman Museum sale that took place in Philadelphia on September 16th, 1988.
 Courtesy of Jeanne Bertoia
Bertoia Auctions.
   

Description and prices as listed in
"Inventory & Price List" September 6, 1988


 
$      
Acrobats/fake
Afghanistan
Africa spar bank / King Aqua
Alligator in tin trough
American sewing
Archie Andrews
Artillery
Artillery/electroplated
Artillery bank, pattern
Atlas bank
Automatic Coin Savings
500
3,000
45,000
10,000
10,000
150
750
500
2,500
3,500
2,000
Baby Elephant
Bad Accident
Bad Accident, pattern
Bank of Education
Bank Teller
Barking Dog
Barrel with Arms/fake
Barrel with Arms/pattern
Bear and Tree Stump
Beehive/economy
Bill E. Grin
Bill E. Grin, pattern
Billy Goat
Billy Goat, pattern
Bird on Roof
Bismark Pig
Bowling Alley
Boy charges dog
Boy on Trapeze
Boy Robbing Bird's Nest
Boy Robbing Bird's Nest, pattern
Boy Scout Camp
Boy Stealing Watermelons/fake
Breadwinners
British lion
Buffalo/twist
Bull and Bear
Bulldog bank
Bull tossing Boy/brass/fake
Butting Buffalo
Butting Goat/tree stump
Butting Ram
Butting Ram/bronze
Butting Ram/repaint?
20,000
2,500
3,000
20,000
850
3,500
200
250
350
150
1,200
2,500
3,500
2,500
1,000
2,500
25,000
1,200
2,000
4,000
3,500
1,500
100
15,000
2,500
500
30,000
400
1,000
3,500
1,000
6,500
750
500
Cabin bank, pattern
Calamity
Called Out, pattern
Calumet/large
Calumet/small
Carnival/fake
Camera
Cash Register/Hubley
Cat and mouse
Cat and mouse, pattern
Cat and Mouse type II
Chandler
Chief Big Moon
Chief Big Moon, lead pattern
Chief Big Moon, lead pattern
Child's self registering
Chimpanzee
Chinaman in Boat
Chronometer
Cigarette Vending Banks (2)
Circus
Circus Ticket
Circus Ticket/Gen. Grant/fake
Clown Bust, English, iron
Clown, English, tin
Clown/harlequin
Clown on bar
Clown on globe
Coin registering bank
Columbia magic savings
Confectionary
Creedmoor/aluminum
Creedmoor
Creedmoor spiked helmet
Crescent cash register
Cupola Building
1,500
15,000
4,500
100
400
2,000
4,500
450
1,700
3,500
4,000
500
1,200
2,000
2,500
1,500
2,000
25,000
6,000
750
6,000
1,000
500
5,000
500
40,000
25,000
850
3,500
275
4,500
100
400
500
250
8,500
Darkie Bust
Darkie football
Darktown battery
Dapper Dan
Dentist
Dinah
Dinah
Dinah/l.s.
Dinah/s.s.
Dinah aluminum
Dog "I hear a call"
Dog on turntable/bronze finish
Dog on turntable/japan finish
Dog standing
Dog tray
Doll's head/black egg
Doll's head/white egg
750
125,000
1,200
700
8,500
200
450
500
450
150
60
250
300
300
3,000
100
275
Eagle and Eaglets
Electric Safe
Elephant and 3 clowns
Elephant/3 star/black
Elephant/3 star/electroplate
Elephant/Hubley
Elephant/raised slot
Elephant swinging trunk/large
Elephant swinging trunk/small
Elephant tusks
Elephant with Locked Howdah
English football
English football
350
250
800
450
500
200
150
60
50
4,500
600
1,800
2,200
Feed the Kitty
Ferris wheel bank
Ferris wheel bank
Five (5) cent adding
Fortune Teller safe
Fortune Teller safe
Fowler/Sportsman
Freedman
Freedman's pat. bureau
Frog on arched track
Frog on Lattice
Frog on rock
250
4,500
4,500
1,000
500
800
18,000
150,000
2,500
25,000
275
250
Gem bank
Gem register
Germania exchange
Giant
Giant in Tower
Girl Skipping Rope
Girl with Victorian chair
Give me a penny
Globe on arc
Globe on stand
Grenadier
Guessing
400
1,000
15,000
15,000
8,500
8,000
5,000
4,500
125
100
600
3,000
Hall's Excelsior
Hall's Lilliput -common
Hall's Lilliput-no tray/repaint
Hall's Yankee Notion, pattern
Hen and Nest
Hindu
Hold the Fort/5 hole
Home bank/dormer
Home bank/plain
Home bank/tin/mechanical
Hoopla
Horse race
Horse race/flanged base
Humpty Dumpty
275
400
350
2,000
2,800
2,200
850
500
1,000
225
900
9,000
7,500
500
I always did 'spise a mule, pattern
Indian Shooting Bear
Indian Shooting Bear, pattern
Indian Bust
Independence Hall Tower
Indian and Bear/repaint
Initiating, First Degree
Ives snapping bulldog
2,500
1,700
3,000
15,000
250
350
8,500
2,500
Japanese Ball Tosser
Joe Socko
John Bull
Jolly Joe
Jolly Negro
Jolly Negro aluminum
Jolly Negro Bamboulla
Jolly Negro Butterfly Tie
Jolly Negro Butterfly Tie/aluminum
Jolly Negro Ear Screws
Jolly Negro Fixed Eyes
Jolly Negro High Hat
Jolly Negro High Hat/mov. ears
Jolly Negro no paint
Jolly Negro/Shepard/blue
Jolly Negro String Tie
Jolly Negro Straw Hat/fake
Jonah and the Whale
Jonah on pedestal
Jumbo elephant/fake
85,000
450
10,000
650
100
100
250
150
200
250
150
250
350
75
400
150
250
1,200
25,000
450
Keene Savings
Kick Inn
Kiltie
King Aqua / Africa spar bank
450
500
800
45,000
Leapfrog
Lighthouse
Light of Asia
Lion and monkeys
Lion and monkeys
Lionhunter
Little High Hat
Little Joe
Little Joe
Little Jocko
Little Moe
Lost dog
2,200
450
3,500
200
750
6,500
2,500
200
150
3,000
1,000
400
Magic
Magic Bank/door/wood, pattern
Magie/tin
Magician
Mason
Mamma Katzenjammer
Mamma Katzenjammer/fake
Mammy and Child
Memorial Money Box
Merry-go-round
Merry-go-round semi
Mickey Mouse
Mikado
Milking Cow
Minstrel
Mission nodding bank
Mission nodding bank
Monkey and Coconut
Monkey face/tin
Monkey/tray
Mosque
Motor bank
Mule/bench
Mule entering barn
Multiplying
Musical church/wood
Musical savings bank
1,500
1,500
2,500
4,000
4,500
6,500
6,500
3,500
850
15,000
200
6,500
20,000
6,000
250
150
150
2,000
1,500
2,500
800
8,500
500
450
500
1,500
12,500
National
National your savings
New bank
New Creedmoor
New Creedmoor, pattern
Nickel savings
Nodding Dog
North Pole /fake
Novelty
7,500
450
850
400
2,500
750
4,000
1,500
800
Octagonal fort
Organ/boy and girl
Organ/cat and dog
Organ Grinder and Bear
Organ/medium
Organ/tiny
Owl/porcelain finish
Owl slot book
Owl slot head
Owl turns head
Owl turns head, pattern
3,000
800
1,200
4,500
1,000
400
500
450
650
300
1,500
Paddy and Pig
Panorama/repaint
Patronize the Blindman
Payphone
Peg leg beggar
Peg leg beggar/black
Pelican/Arab figure
Pelican/man thumbing nose
Pelican/white/p.m./mechanical
Penny Pineapple/modern
Perfection registering
Piano
Picture Gallery
Pig in Highchair
Pig in high chair, pattern
Pistol cast iron/orig. tag
Popeye Knockout
Presto savings/mouse/fake
Presto iron
Presto savings/wood
Professor pug frog
Pump and bucket
Punch and Judy/large
Punch and Judy/small
Punch and Judy/tin/iron/European
1,800
3,500
5,000
300
400
1,200
1,500
1,800
500
75
1,500
1,000
3,500
750
2,000
2,500
500
750
300
17,500
3,500
2,000
500
900
6,500
Queen Victoria Bust 15,000
Rabbit Cabbage
Rabbit/large
Rabbit/small
Reclining Chinaman
Red Riding Hood, little
Rival
Robot
Roller Skating
Rooster
400
600
350
4,000
25,000
15,000
5,000
10,000
300
Safety Locomotive
Safety Locomotive, black
Santa Claus
Saving squirrel
Schley bank
Scotchman
Second Degree
Seek Him Frisk
Sentry
Serrill pat. bureau
Shoot the Chute/fake
Shoot the Chute, lead pattern
Signal Cabin Banks (2)
Smyth x-ray
Snap-it
Speaking Dog
Speaking Dog, pattern
Springing Cat
Spring jaw/alligator
Spring jaw/cat
Spring jaw/monkey
Squirrel and tree stump/fake
Starkie's Airplane/aluminum
Starkie's Jolly Negro/original
St. Dustan's Mission box
Steer/fake
Stump speaker
750
1,000
800
400
22,000
400
5,000
40,000
1,500
1,500
6,000
7,500
1,000
2,000
450
850
2,500
15,000
1,200
800
2,000
100
4,500
350
250
100
1,400
Tabby
Tammany
Tank and cannon
Tank and cannon
Tank and Cannon/nickel plated
Target
Teddy and the Bear
Teddy and the Bear, pattern
Ten (10) cent adding
Thrifty Tom
Thrifty Tom
Time Lock Savings
Toad in den/complete repaint
Toad on stump, pattern
Toad on stump, pattern, lead
Tommy
Treasure chest/musical
Trick Dog/Hubley old
Trick Dog/Hubley
Trick Dog/Shepard
Trick Donkey/49er/fake
Trick Pony
Trick wood savings - end
Trick wood savings - front
Trick wood savings/front drawer
Trick wood savings/front drawer
Turtle
Two frogs
Two frogs, repaired
400
150
350
500
475
4,500
750
2,500
700
850
750
7,500
5,000
1,000
800
4,000
500
650
75
350
500
450
200
150
250
200
22,000
450
350
Uncle Remus
Uncle Tom
Uncle Tom
Uncle Tom
Uncle Sam bust
United States Safe
U.S. Building
U.S. Spain
4,500
650
500
1,200
900
750
5,000
4,500
Volunteer 300
Watch Bank, Coin Disappears
Watchdog safe
Weeden's Plantation
William Tell, pattern
William Tell, Australian
William Tell
Wireless
Wood alms box
Woodpecker Bank
World Banker
World's Fair
3,000
275
2,000
2,500
1,000
500
100
200
4,500
5,000
800
Zoo bank 1,000

352 banks offered for total of $1,650,000

 


 

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