Heyde Buffalo Bill Wild West Set, ca. 1903

Value (2005) | $15,000 Auction$20,000 Auction

APPRAISER:
You've watched the ROADSHOW. You know how excited we get when we find original boxes.

GUEST:
I've noticed, yes.

APPRAISER:
So what's in this box here that says "Buffalo Bill"?

GUEST:
What's inside this box is a composite set of...

APPRAISER:
Well, hey, let's show it to them.

GUEST:
Okay. I guess it was the Buffalo Bill Wild West cowboy show, right around the turn of the century or shortly before, and this shows cowboys fighting buffaloes, Indians... You name it, it's in there. And I bought it at an auction locally here, about 21 years ago. My wife was away for the weekend and I saw... I happened to look in the auction section of the Journal here, and it said "Buffalo Bill Wild West set." And I always loved toy soldiers when I was a kid. I went to the auction. I'd never been to one before in my life. I ended up with this.

APPRAISER:
And your wife wasn't with you so you could go wild.

GUEST:
No, if she'd have been with me, I wouldn't have gone.

APPRAISER:
And what did you pay for it?

GUEST:
With the auctioneer's premium and the tax, I think I paid about $400 for it.

APPRAISER:
This is a set, as you know from reading the label on the box, it's made in Germany. It's made by the Heyde Company. We all know about Britons when we think of lead soldiers, but Heyde was the preeminent German manufacturer.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
Started the late 19th century, and this is something they made around 1903. Well, what's extraordinary is... is the large set. What's doubly extraordinary is no one played with it.

GUEST:
Well, after I had bought this particular piece, a woman came over to me and she said, "Would you like to know something about it?" I said, "Of course I would." She said that everything at the auction was her grandfather's estate that they were selling. He had passed away. And right around the turn of the century, her grandfather was the European sales manager for the Singer Sewing Machine Company. He had just gotten married, and he thought that at some time he would have some sons and this would be a nice present. Except that he and his wife had three daughters, and the three daughters only had daughters. And she had told me that this box had been lugged from house to house to house and had never been played with, and that's why it looks the way it does today. It's still tied in original excelsior back behind everything. You can still see some of the straw from the original packing.

APPRAISER:
It's just absolutely extraordinary, and the condition is just unheard of. I did a little research. Oh, I do see a little break here, but I don't think that's a big deal.

GUEST:
I never noticed it.

APPRAISER:
I did some research and talked to one dealer who had sold a similar set a few years back, not in this condition, for in the range of $14,000. This set on today's market, I think, at auction, could bring in the neighborhood of $15,000 to $20,000.

GUEST:
Well, my father-in-law came in for a visit and looked at it. He looked at it and said, "What did you pay for it?" When I told him, he made one of those faces. So now maybe I did know what I was doing 21 years ago.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd.
Carversville, PA
Appraised value (2005)
$15,000 Auction$20,000 Auction
Event
Providence, RI (June 18, 2005)
Period
20th Century

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