Michael O’Hearn is a retired architect and restorer of Victorian homes who has spent 28 years collecting toys in the best possible condition. He never sold a single piece over those three decades. He just bought, so his immense collection was virtually unknown even by experts.
There are over 4,000 toys in his collection, from 46 different categories of toy collectibles. Two-thirds of them are automotive, plus sci-fi pieces, boardwalk things (carnival toys, clowns, animals, airplane), wind-up toys, cast iron, tin lithographs, you name it. Once he knew his way around, he made a point of collecting toys with their original boxes, and he treated those boxes with kid gloves, filling them with styrophoam and even shrink-wrapping them to ensure the colors stayed brilliant and the shape crisp. Now over half of his toys, 2,500 of them, come with their original boxes.
O’Hearn is 70 years old now, and he’s decided it’s time to move on from this part of his life and let his meticulously collected and preserved toys go to the next generation collectors. His entire collection, every last steel-pressed car, plastic robot, lithographed space station, will be up for auction on Friday, July 16, at Dan Morphy Auctions in Pennsylvania.
The Friday, July 16 session will open with more than 75 boxed robot and space toy lots. Highlights include boxed examples of a New Space Station (estimate $1,000-$1,500), a standard Space Station ($1,500-$2,000) and a friction Space Bus ($1,200-$1,800). A TV Space Patrol Car is expected to make $1,500-$2,500. […]
The panoramic sub-collection of Japanese toys spans the era from pre-World War II through the boom years of postwar toymaking, known for its colorful and imaginative designs. “It covers quite a range – celluloid, battery ops, tin airplanes, big ’50s cars,” said Morphy. A #58 Atom Jet racecar is estimated at $2,000-$4,000, as is a windup Harley motorcycle. A fleet of sleek cars includes a prewar Packard ($1,200-$1,800), 1954 red Alps Cadillac ($1,500-$2,500) and Lincoln Futura ($1,500-$2,500). A 1958 Buick Century has its cruise control set at $1,000-$1,500; while a newspaper delivery station wagon is expected to apply the brakes at $1,200-$1,800. A prized 1956 Haji Ford Sunliner with box could realize $4,000-$6,000.
Don’t let those price tags intimidate you. There are some very reasonably priced items for the new (or broke) collector, and you can bid online.
If you prefer your antique cars full-sized and souped up, O’Hearn is selling two insanely awesome hot rods as well.
The first, which he has owned for the past 26 years, is a 1927 Model T with green body, black fenders and black tonneau. Its original all-steel body has a new undercarriage, Ford Cobra engine and Jaguar front and rear end – which hot rodders love. Described by O’Hearn as “a deluxe mini racecar in an antique body,” the car has air conditioning, power steering and a 50-gallon gas tank in its trunk.
“At first glance, it looks like a Model T, but it’s deceptive,” said O’Hearn. I would take it out for a spin and have a little fun when people would drive by, pointing at the old Model T. I’d hit the gas and leave them in the dust.”
The second hot rod, which O’Hearn has owned for 30 years, is a 1929 Ford Roadster convertible pickup truck in two-tone brown with chrome accenting and pinstriping. The all-original steel body accommodates a big-block Chevy engine, and its full truck bed has alternating wood panels. It has power steering, a wood dashboard and removable convertible top. Like the Model T, the powerful pickup truck has always been garaged in California, avoiding wet or cold winters. Both are licensed for the road, have been scrupulously maintained and are offered at auction complete with service records and protective covers.
Behold the awesome and despair: