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Circa 1940s Whistler Wind-Up Baseball Figures (2)
Starting Bid - $800.00, Sold For - $6,960.00
Presented are painted two wooden carved folk-art baseball figural pieces, one a batter and one a catcher, known in the collecting world as "whistlers." "Whistlers" are not just carved figures, but a special art form which combines a mechanical interior which allows the figures to not only move but at the same time literally to "whistle." This very elaborate and unusual style of mechanical figural folk art was most popular about 1930. These figures are not dated and could date from after that era; there is no way for us to know with certainty the date of their manufacture as they are handcrafted folk-art pieces and they are not dated. Over the past thirty-five years we have never before seen a single baseball "whistler." These two are from a very advanced baseball figural art collection, and, interestingly, many years ago were obtained from two completely unrelated sources. They are not, in the truest sense, a "set," in that each was made by a different artist. In the tradition of "whistlers," each is carved with "pursed" lips to best compliment the whistling that is the trademark of these figures. When activated by the turnkey which appears on the back of each figure, the heads are designed to move, in an amusing right to left motion, while whistling. The mechanism of the catcher is in perfect working order. When he wound up, he whistles "Take Me Out To The Ballgame." The interior mechanism of the batter needs adjustment as it does not presently work. The backs of each figure are designed with a removable section, which allowed the mechanism to be placed inside each figure, and can also allow the mechanics to be accessed for repair if necessary. If we had to guess, we would date these figures from the 1940s, but we simply don't know with certainty, as they are not dated. The only similar wooden folk-art "whistler" figure we have seen was a figure of Al Smith which dated from 1928, which if it were not for knowing the precise year of its creation, we would have also thought dated from the 1940s. The batter has "Germany" in small letters stamped on the back of its green base. The catcher has a pencil notation reading "1972" on the bottom of the base, and while this could refer to the year this figure was made, it could just as easily refer to an acquisition date. It is also possible that the figures do not date from the same decade. Based on the examination of the patina of the unpainted finished wood on the bottom of the base of each, the batter is the older of the two. The catcher stands thirteen inches tall (including base, which measures 5.625 x 3.5 x 1.5 inches). The batter stands 14.5 inches tall (including base, which measures 2.85 x 4 x 1.375 inches). Both figures are in Excellent condition. These are two very special, extremely rare, and extraordinary examples of baseball figural folk art. Reserve $800. Estimate $1,500/$2,500. SOLD FOR $6,960.00
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