City Imperial Volunteer escort from Britains’ Boer War Supply Column – £3400 at C&T.

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Comprising two four-horse wagons as well as the City Imperial Volunteer escort, “when complete, it is priced accordingly”.

In October 2015 as part of the James Cook collection, specialist saleroom Old Toy Soldier Auctions of Pittsburgh offered a complete set thought to be one of only two known boxed examples. Estimated at $12,000-14,000, it made $19,000/£12,350 (a premium-inclusive $22,800).

So what would the unboxed escort fetch without the wagons? Well, that test of the market was answered at the Fine Toy Soldiers and Figures Online Auction held at Kent saleroom C&T (22% buyer’s premium) on June 1 when the mounted officer and 10 men at the trail on their own took £3400 against an estimate of £700-1000.

The set may well have been commissioned by Alfred James Holladay, who was no “stranger to the toy industry”, says Opie, a consultant for C&T.

“He had been in the trade since 1893, the year that Britains started making toy soldiers. In the Boer War, he enlisted in the CIV. After he came home, he joined the wholesale firm of CF Eckhardt.”

Holladay supplied the Supply Column set to the trade from at least 1907 until 1913, when he was selling it to Gamages, as it appeared in the 1913 Christmas catalogue.

In 1916, he bought out the Eckhardt company and changed its name to AJ Holladay. Later he was the power behind Skybird – pioneer of 1/72 scale aircraft modelling,

Brill Bru

Bru dolls – from a golden age of late 19th century French doll manufacture – are very popular among collectors and attract high prices at auction.

A Bru Jne bisque shoulder head Bébé doll described by C&T as “exquisite” took £27,000 in its May 18 sale. Consigned by a private vendor, it sold to an overseas buyer.

The size 8 doll, with rare original label, French 1884-89, 21½in (55cm) tall, was estimated at £15,000- 20,000. It came with a grey canvas trunk with tray, and trousseau featuring a wide array of clothes including a black velvet mourning dress and bonnet.


Bru Jne bisque shoulder head Bébé doll and accessories – £27,000 at C&T.

C&T toy and doll specialist Leigh Gotch says: “These particular Brus are perhaps the most sought after, having fine-quality bisque heads with the slightly open mouth and moulded tongue. Also, the bisque breastplate and fine bisque lower arms added to the value and appeal, she was a good desirable size and the additional clothes and trunk did help.”

Leon Casimir Bru was briefly a doll assembler before starting his own business in the 1866 on the Rue Saint Denis in Paris, where other doll makers would also be based later on. The first doll in the Bébé (baby) line appeared in 1876. The third, the Bru Jne, came in 1882 and was produced over the next decade. The company had been acquired by Henri Chevrot in 1883, who then renamed Maison Bru to the now renowned brand of Bru Jne & Cie. By 1889, Paul Girard was owner and expanded the range of designs.

However, by the 1890s rising competition from German manufacturers able to mass produce meant major French companies including Bru, Jumeau and Gaultier joined together as the SFBJ – but the golden age of quality was over.

Extended family


One of two groups of miniature early English cloth dolls, c.1810 – £6000 at C&T.

Two “rare and unusual” groups of miniature early English cloth dolls, c.1810, performed well at C&T.

They were all handmade and with finely painted features, dressed in various materials including silks and velvet, with the tallest 6in (15cm) tall. One group of 10 items, including a red coat, sold for £6000 – 10 times the low estimate – and the other group of eight, guided at £400-600, took £5200.

The dolls were accompanied by photocopies of typed notes from Warwick Museum.

Gotch says: “These are just what doll’s houses and miniature doll collectors are looking for. Examples do occasionally turn up but these two lots representing an extended family with children is rare; the vendor can always remember them in the family so they were probably handed down over the generations.

“The price was extremely good, with four or five collectors worldwide bidding up to around £3000 and then it came down to two international collectors.”