Optical Toys - Optisches Spielzeug - Jouet Optique

Auction Price List for Optical Toys, Magic Lanterns and Pre-cinema artefacts


When bidding on an object, a buyer more and more frequently asks himself: "Where have I seen this object before?" Is the offered object complete? Is the suggested price realistic? Those who have the opportunity happily seek the answers to these questions in auction catalogues, in the hope of finding in them a similar object, or even the same one.


The author, or perhaps better the 'collector', of the information listed in this volume has frequently taken precisely the steps listed above, but he has also taken the trouble to meticulously analyse auction catalogues and save the results in a database. With almost 1200 entries for objects, offered in the last 25 years in the most diverse international auction houses, a considerable mass of information has come together that should support the buying decisions of any ambitious collector.

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The entries are recorded in the respective languages of the auction houses and identically reproduce any relevant information given. English, French, American English or German entries alternately indicate, each after the other, in which auction house an object was offered. In precisely the same way the estimated price and hammer price are cited in their respective currencies. On 1 January 2002 most of the countries of the European Union introduced the Euro as their currency; prices before this time are cited in the former national currencies. A few small hammer prices have been rounded to the nearest whole figure.


For quicker reference, the objects are arranged in categories. Inside each category is the date at which a particular object came up for auction, sorted beginning with the oldest entry and concluding with the newest. The intention is to avoid listing only the highest price and therefore indicate, or prescribe, a possible market value for an object. The reader has the opportunity to follow the value of an object over the course of 25 years, in so far as the value does not relate to a unique piece. Naturally, the collector's eyes normally stop at the most expensive entry; whether or not this corresponds to the market value remains to be seen. For when two solvent bidders simultaneously escalate the price of an object, the hammer price quickly rises over its true market value. The opposite can also happen, and what bidder has not dreamt of seizing an object at far below its market value.


Only an exact comparison of the descriptions helps assess a price. Condition, completeness, accessories or provenance are the criteria taken into account to substantiate an object's value.


Objects are listed whose descriptions provide evidence for classification even without illustrations. Entries for example like "Plank Magic Lantern", or "Large lot of hand-painted magic lantern slides" were not included, since everything and nothing can hide behind them and a classification or valuation is not possible. The photographs used for the entries were acquired with many thanks from the various auction houses and provide an additional aid to research.


Stuttgart, Autumn 2004


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