Buddy L Steam Shovel on Treads, ca. 1925

Value (2009) | $6,000 Auction

GUEST:
It was originally my father-in-law's. He got it in about 1921, '22. He was about one or two years old. And when he died in about 1996, his wife gave it to my husband, his son.

APPRAISER:
Well, Buddy Ls were made out of the same gauge steel that automobiles were made out of because they started off the company in Moline Pressed Steel making automotive fenders. And then his son, Bud, had toys that just didn't last, so Mr. Lundahl decided to make some toys out of the same gauge steel they used in the automobiles. And they made a lot of toys over the years. One of their most popular toys is a steam shovel. They sold thousands of them, and it's the perfect toy for a child because it had a lot of action, it'd scoop up dirt, take it outside, have a lot of fun. So there's lots of steam shovels.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And the average Buddy L. steam shovel will sell for somewhere between $150 to $350, depending on the condition.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
Then they decided to make what they called an improved steam shovel. They put this very complex gearing system, a piston system, and the extra gears that would actually, when they operated, would move the shovel back and forth as opposed to just swinging. And their improved shovel is fairly rare. The improved shovels, in average condition, can bring about $700 or $800.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
And then at some point... and I'm not so sure that the 1921 date... Is right? ...that your father-in-law got it because I think this came out a little bit later. And that's when they started putting some toys on treads. The treads were a very complex mechanism and they would go over any kind of surface. They could go back and forth. They just made the toy more real and more incredible. It's really neat. Of course, the problem is... (straining) it made the toy even heavier. It's really heavy. I don't know exactly what their production run was on this improved steam shovel on treads, but I did a little research and the last two that sold in 2006 and 2007, which were average examples and maybe a tad worse in some cases than this one, sold for in excess of $6,000.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
I think this one would probably do the same, even in today's market.

GUEST:
Oh, my gosh.

APPRAISER:
It's a real treat to see it. It's only the first one I've ever seen in person and I'm glad you schlepped this all the way over here.

GUEST:
Thank you so much. Oh, my husband's going to be so excited.

APPRAISER:
Well, thank you for bringing it. I appreciate it.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd.
Carversville, Pennsylvania
Appraised value (2009)
$6,000 Auction
Event
Madison, WI (July 11, 2009)
Period
20th Century
Form
Vehicle
Material
Steel

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