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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 1870s and 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. Another popular variety depicts Ulysses S. Grant seated in a chair, raising and lowering a cigar. But the rarest and "neatest" 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. She stands behind a lectern, and holds in her left hand a book or pamphlet from which she apparently quotes. A Bible rests on the velvet covered platform in front of her. 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 unintentional. Her original cloth costume is that of a slave woman. When the [replacement] key is inserted into the base and turned, she becomes animated; she bends forward as she thumps the lectern with her right hand. Her head does not turn, as intended. That defect may self-correct in time or be repairable. The overall condition of this rare toy is phenomenal. It is in spectacular near-mint condition . In over thirty years, we have not seen more than three or four of these. 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." with a patent date of October 13, 1874. Although the box has a repaired split to the lid and some minor loss to the paper label, 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". The toy was a Christmas present in 1884 from Bishop L. B. Rushmore of Long Island to his sister, P. I. A. Harper. The presentation letter is included, though discolored with tape stains and separated at the folds. It reads: "I take pleasure in introducing to you sister Arabella Smith of Smoketown. She is an evangelist. Her mission in life is to do good and preaching is her vocation. She wishes to sojourn with you for a season if convenient. Hoping her efforts prove mutually pleasing and beneficial."

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2016
    17th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,712

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