Buddy ”L“ Bus & Fire Truck, ca. 1925

Value (2007) | $3,800 Auction$5,200 Auction

GUEST:
I inherited these from my family when my father passed away in 1980. And he had played with a set of these as a child in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I know there's at least a steamroller in this set, and I know there's one other toy. I'm just not positive which one it is.

APPRAISER:
But these are the ones you ended up with?

GUEST:
These are the ones I ended up with, yes. I understood they're made out of steel.

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm.

GUEST:
And they actually sat on these and rode them, and they're very durable.

APPRAISER:
The Buddy "L" toys were the Cadillac and Rolls Royce of the toy world. It's a fascinating story because Mr. Lundahl was making fenders for cars and car parts, and then he was watching his son's toys being destroyed by normal play, so he said the heck with that, and he started making toys out of the same gauge steel that the cars were made of. For heaven's sakes. And it started around 1919. And the heyday was in the Roaring '20s, when people could afford to indulge their children with these very expensive toys. These are really the grandfather of the Tonka Toys you see today.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
And of course, one of the problems with them is they are heavy.

GUEST:
Yes, they are.

APPRAISER:
And a lot of times the kid wouldn't bring them in out of the sandbox, and a lot of them just ended up in the rust heap. Of course, they were also generally well played with. It's nice to see them in fairly decent condition. Which one of these would you think was the better... more valuable of the two?

GUEST:
I would say this guy was.

APPRAISER:
There's a lot of play value with this truck... but this is a fairly common one because it was very popular with kids of the day. This is five times rarer.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
Yeah, yeah.

GUEST:
Oh, my gosh.

APPRAISER:
As much play value as there is here, this is one of the grail pieces of the Buddy "L" collectors.

GUEST:
For heaven's sakes.

APPRAISER:
Because it is...

GUEST:
Shows how much I know. (both laughing)

APPRAISER:
It is... just the lines of it. It's a relatively late piece in the Buddy "L" line in the late '20s and with these side-mount tires actually steer the wheels. So now we know this is the better one.

GUEST:
Oh, for heaven's sakes.

APPRAISER:
In terms of value, the prices I quote are what I think they would bring at auction.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
This one has been well played with. It does still have its original decals, the original ladders. It could stand being professionally cleaned up. But still, it's probably about, in this condition, around an $800 to $1,200 toy. So that's not too shabby.

GUEST:
No, no.

APPRAISER:
This, on the other hand, is a very acceptable example-- it's not a great, great example. What's nice is it has all the original decals. Of course we know it's Buddy "L" because it's right there. It's Buddy "L" there. All these are decals, the original decorations. It's had some rough use. An average example of these sells in the $5,000 to $6,000 range. This one is a little below average. Probably in the $3,000 to $4,000 range.

GUEST:
I'm... I'm astounded. That's amazing.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd.
Carversville, Pennsylvania
Appraised value (2007)
$3,800 Auction$5,200 Auction
Event
San Antonio, TX (July 14, 2007)
Period
20th Century
Form
Truck, Vehicle
Material
Steel

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