Bertoia’s March 25 toy auction sets new standard for quality, rarity

Marklin Battleship HMS Edward VII, well preserved and complete, 20½ inches long, German, est. $75,000-$100,000. Bertoia Auctions image


VINELAND, N.J. – Bertoia Auctions will present a connoisseur’s selection of high-quality toy and trains in a March 25 Signature Sale containing 530 expertly curated lots. The auction features pieces consigned by several high-profile collectors, including train aficionados Jerry Greene and Jerry Loman, and a number of other savvy specialist collectors who added exquisite German boats, teddy bears, rare zeppelins and antique store-display Santas to the mix. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

The generous grouping of rare trains includes not only locomotives and cars by Marklin, Ives, Boucher, Lionel and Voltamp, among other European and American manufacturers, but also desirable cast-iron trains and a wealth of railway accessories.

Service will be first class only on a Marklin 1 gauge Kaiser train, one of the key lots in the train section. Boasting phenomenal condition and bright, original paint, this extremely desirable set is expected to attract a flurry of bids. Its pre-sale estimate is $30,000-$50,000.

A boxed 1904 Marklin passenger set made for the American market came to Bertoia’s from an estate in the Pacific Northwest. “The set had been kept in a dry attic and is in absolutely beautiful condition. I especially like the label on the box, which has a scene of all sorts of transportation from the era of manufacture,” said Michael Bertoia, who cataloged all of the train lots. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000.

Four colorful Boucher 2-inch passenger cars were purchased by Jerry Greene in the 1970s from a father and son in New York City. They are offered as one lot with a $10,000-$12,000 estimate.


Bing GBN 1 gauge passenger set, German, est. $8,000-$12,000. Bertoia Auctions image


Another choice U.S. production is an American Miniature (AMR) clockwork passenger set in near-mint condition. Michael explained that AMR was in business for only four years before being absorbed by Ives. “The set is extremely rare to begin with because of the company’s short lifespan, but for the passenger cars to still be with the engine, and in near-mint condition, is unheard of. We’ve placed a $3,000-$5,000 estimate on it, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it sold for double or triple that amount. You hear the expression ‘once in a lifetime buying opportunity.’ I think in this case, it might really apply.”

Collectors will be able to pick some real gems from the array of train stations, tunnels, bridges, lights and other fine extras that add a crowning touch to any train layout. A fastidiously detailed Marklin mountain cut tunnel with pedestrian bridge is tipped to be the top accessory lot. The tunnel’s appealing design incorporates a passenger pathway and pedestrian bridge, and its condition is bright and shiny. Estimate: $15,000-$20,000.


Marklin train accessory depicting mountain cut with railed pathways, houses, tower, and other details, German, est. $15,000-$20,000. Bertoia Auctions image


A number of fabulous European race cars will be lined up and ready for action. Some replicate sought-after Alfa-Romeos (below) and Ferraris, but the auction track may well be dominated by a prized example of the largest-size Gordon Bennett racer. Made by Gunthermann, it is expected to reach $18,000-$22,000 at Bertoia’s.


CIJ Alfa-Romeo clockwork racer with original box, 20½ inches long, circa 1937, French, est. $5,000-$7,000. Bertoia Auctions image


Approximately 16 tin windup motorcycles will be vying for bidder attention. The pack of eye-catching bikes is led by one of the rarest and most desirable of all character toys, a sensational Tippco Mickey/Minnie motorcycle (below) estimated at $35,000-$45,000. Other highlights include an M&K single cycle, a Gunthermann touring ’cycle, and an early Fisher motorbike.


Tippco Mickey & Minnie Motorcycle, circa 1932, German, est. $35,000-$45,000. Bertoia Auctions image


Antique automotive toys include several Citroens, early examples of JEP’s Hispano-Suiza and Rolls-Royce; a Bing Spider steam runabout and steam-fire pumper; and other excellent Bing cars. A collection of German military toys ranges from army trucks and trailers to a staff car and two Nazi airplanes.


M & K lithographed tin motorcycle with gentleman driver, German, est. $5,000-$7,000. Bertoia Auctions image


Zeppelins will be clearing for takeoff, including a boxed, German-made Ubelacker with pontoons (below) that enable it to zip across either water or a wire, or to spin from a string. The well-preserved original box retains a detailed label with directions on the toy’s use. “This is a very rare toy – the only one of its type that we’ve ever seen,” said Bertoia Auctions owner Jeanne Bertoia. The zeppelin is estimated at $20,000-$25,000.


Ubelacker zeppelin with pontoons, German, with original box and label with instructions for operation, only example known to Bertoia’s, est. $20,000-$20,000. Bertoia Auctions image


One section of the sale with a decidedly French accent consists of more than a dozen amusing Martin windup toys – many of them boxed – from the Tony Daval collection. Julian “Tony” Daval is a Parisian whose collecting journey started 60 years ago when he bought his first toy from Grover Van Dexter’s Second Childhood in Greenwich Village. In addition to his antique toys, Tony also built an enviable robot collection. He sold his robots at Bertoia’s in 1999 but kept the Martin toys, which were always his favorites.

Daval’s exceptional Martins include a Jockey and Barber (below), both accompanied by their Martin factory boxes, and a cloth-dressed “Vaillant” with its original store box from Au Nain Bleu, an upscale Paris toy store established in 1836. The Vaillant – which depicts a soldier from the Boer War – wears cloth pants, a jacket with bullet band, and a hat. Dressed for a more leisurely pursuit, a pristine “Perfect Fisherman” displays his talent as a sportsman by landing a fish with his rod. Estimate: $5,500-$7,500.


Fernand Martin hand-painted tin windup Barber toy, circa 1904, French, est. $4,000-$5,000. Bertoia Auctions image


Each of the French horse-drawn carriages entered in the sale is elegantly appointed and impressively sized. The largest expands to 39 inches in length, while others measure 37 and 25 inches long, respectively.

Several sought-after European biscuit tins will sweeten the sale, including a 1905 Olibet Railway Dining Car in superb condition; a very fine red Monocoupe Aeroplane with 26-inch wingspan, and a circa 1925 Crawford Limousine.

Over 40 comic character lots are ready to cross the auction block, many of them boxed. The panorama of characters depicted includes Charlie McCarthy, Krazy Kat, Buttercup and Spare Ribs, and several by Disney. Alongside the aforementioned Tippco Mickey and Minnie Motorcycle, there will be a boxed example of a pre-war Japanese celluloid Mickey on a Pluto rocker.

A virtual fleet of Marklin boats is highlighted by two great treasures: a 20½-inch Battleship HMS Edward VII in extremely well-preserved original condition with masts, lifeboats, cannons and other accessories, est. $75,000-$100,000; and an all-original circa-1900 Battleship New York with an especially fine patina, est. $80,000-$100,000. Each of the boats has had only two owners and has benefited from uncompromising care.

Other Marklin nautical beauties include a 38-inch-long, circa-1920 ocean liner Phoenix, pristine to near mint, $45,000-$65,000; a Wien riverboat; 22-inch Battleship Indiana, and 2nd series 34-inch Battleship Cincinnati. In addition to Marklin entries, there are several boats by other prestigious German manufacturers.

Bertoia’s has a loyal following with collectors of Christmas antiques. The gallery will be filled with the Christmas spirit when a 20-year collection of early German Santas is auctioned. There are many large (up to 31 inches) clockwork store-display Santa nodders, a coveted Santa in a loofah sled pulled by two nodding reindeers, another nodding reindeer pulling Santa in a sled, and a magnificent 36-inch-tall Santa riding a nodding donkey. Standing 30 inches tall, an automotive-themed store display consists of a wicker and wood automobile with Santa at the wheel. German kugels and a collection of candy containers, including several with patriotic themes, will also be sold.


Composition with fur-beard Santa Claus on clockwork nodding donkey with movable open/close mouth, 36 inches tall, est. $12,000-$16,000. Bertoia Auctions image


Around 40 teddies comprising Part I of the world-class Catherine “Sue” McKinney collection will be ready to impress bear fanciers. Many of the bears in the collection were book examples that illustrated Ken Yenke’s 1990s Teddy Bear Treasury, Volumes I and II. In any great teddy bear collection, one will find early Steiff rarities, and the McKinney grouping is no exception. Steiff’s 1905 rod bear with elephant button is from the very first teddy bear line produced by the revered German company. McKinney’s apricot mohair rod bear, which is estimated at $9,000-$12,000, will convey to its new owner with an X-ray confirming the toy’s interior rod mechanism.

Bears of all colors in the Steiff rainbow found a place of honor in the McKinney collection. An early 28-inch apricot Steiff teddy (below)is estimated at $8,000-$10,000; while a 19-inch Steiff Teddy Clown, circa 1926-28, is entered with a $5,500-$7,500 estimate. The latter bear is from the Bowers estate of Mannington, West Virginia.


Steiff apricot mohair rod teddy bear with elephant button in ear, circa 1905, German, accompanied by X-ray showing interior rod mechanism, est. $10,000-$12,000. Bertoia Auctions image


The Saturday, March 25, 2017 Signature Sale featuring toys, trains, boats, bears and antique Santa Store displays will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern.

To contact Bertoia Auctions, call 856-692-1881 or email