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    Marvelous Extremely Rare Ives Sojourner Truth Mechanical Clockwork Toy with Original Box E. R. Ives and Company operated in Bridgeport, Connecticut, from 1872-1932. They are best known for toy trains, but in the early 1880s they produced several moving figures of well-known personalities which are now "Holy Grail" items for collectors of 19th century toys. By far the most commonly seen is a walking (or rather lurching) figure of Ben Butler, Civil War general, gadfly politician, and 1884 Greenback / Anti-Monopoly Party candidate for President. Generally considered the most expensive variety depicts Ulysses S. Grant seated in a chair, raising and lowering a cigar. A nice example will run $20,000, if you could find one. Of nearly equal importance is this wonderful mechanical Sojourner Truth. Born a slave in Ulster County, New York, in 1797, she suffered under three hard masters until New York abolished slavery in 1828, and ended up in New York City working as a domestic. She experienced a "spiritual revelation" in 1843, when she adopted the name Sojourner Truth, and began a walking tour of the northeast preaching, "God's truth and plan for salvation." She became acquainted with William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, and became actively involved in the Abolition movement. After the Civil War, she worked tirelessly to aid the newly-freed Southern slaves. She also became aware of the growing Women's Rights movement, which came to national attention with Victoria Woodhull's independent candidacy for president in 1872. In her final years, Women's Rights and Women's Suffrage arguments became more and more central in her public speeches. Given the tenor of the times, it should not be surprising that some of the items produced to take note of Sojourner were crudely satirical. A familiar bisque figure depicts her as a savage holding a large club and a "Votes for Women" placard. The Ives toy shows her standing on a lacquered wood speaker's platform with original gold and black "Woman's Rights" paper label. Sojourner stands behind a lectern, and holds in her left hand a book or pamphlet from which she apparently is quoted. Her face is a garish caricature, with a wide red mouth dotted with white teeth in a configuration whose resemblance to a slice of watermelon may not have been entirely unintentioned. Her original cloth costume is that of a slave woman. When the original brass key is inserted into the base and turned, she becomes animated; her head turns, and she bends forward as she thumps the lectern with her right hand. The condition of this rare toy is phenomenal but for a little exceedingly trivial chipping on the velvet which covers the lectern top (where it is struck by her moving hand) It is in spectacular near-mint condition, and in fine working order. In over thirty years, we have not seen more than three or four of these toys, and never one in this condition. A prominent New England Americana dealer offered an example in a late 1990s fixed-price sales catalog at $14,750, and advises that, "seven callers wanted to buy it!" But what makes this offering truly special is the presence of the original wood box and lid in which it was sold, a virtually unheard of pairing. On the end of the box is the original paper label picturing the toy with the words "Woman's Rights." Although the box has some minor water staining and is evenly darkened with age, it is otherwise in excellent shape. An opportunity of the utmost importance for toy, Woman's Suffrage and American Social Movement collectors! The toy stands 11" tall, and the box is 12" x 6" x 4.5".

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2005
    22nd-23rd Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,349

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