- Tipp & Co Mickey Mouse motorcycle
- 75780 UK pound(s) sterling
- United States (Allentown)
A 9.25-in-long (23.5-cm) clockwork motorcycle carrying Mickey and Minnie Mouse, made c. late 1920s by the German toy manufacturer Tipp & Co., was listed at a Randy Inman auction in Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA, on 6–8 October 2000 before selling for $110,000 (£75,780) to collector Donald Kaufman (USA). The nearly-mint-condition, wind-up lithographed-tinplate toy was sold in its original box and in full working order.
At the time of the sale, the buyers were identified only as "dedicated New England toy enthusiasts", but were later named as Donald and Sally Kaufman. Kaufman (1930–2009) was vice-president of the KB Toys store chain and famed among collectors for his 7,000-strong collection of vintage toy vehicles.
The mechanical motorcycle toy was produced in the Nuremberg factory of Tipp & Co. in the early 1930s for sale in the British market. The lean, rodent-like Mickey and his pillion passenger Minnie bear only a passing resemblance to the big-eared Mickey and Minnie we know today and, noticeably, they boast five-fingered hands and a toothy grin; this is because the characters were licensed not by Disney but by Ideal Film Co. Ltd, which at the time owned the Mickey Mouse movie distribution rights in the UK.
This particular item was bought from a Woolworth's in Britain in June 1930 as a ninth birthday present, and its first appearance on the collectors' circuit - as the only known example in its original box - was in the late 1990s, when it was a featured item on the British TV show Antiques Roadshow (BBC, 6 April 1997). Later that year, on 16 June, the toy was auctioned by Christie's in London as part of their Animation Art & Collectibles sale (the final lot, #199), where it sold for a then-record £51,000 ($83,466) including premium. The motorcycle was later sold again - for a reported $100,000 - before ending up in the catalogue of the Randy Inman auction and, ultimately, the Kaufman collection. Ten years later, Kaufman decided to sell off his vast toy "museum" and the boxed motorcycle was put up for sale with Bertoia Auctions of New Jersey, USA, on 26 September 2009, when it sold for "just" $62,000 (£38,790).