VINELAND, N.J. – More than 1,000 lots of wonderful high-quality toys, banks, trains and dolls have been selected for Bertoia Auctions’ April 27-28 Spring Signature Sale. Most of the items are from prestigious, long-held collections that, up until this point, could only be admired from afar. Now the coveted antiques are coming to the auction marketplace where they are destined to make many collectors’ dreams come true. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Featured: Rare Martin and Lehmann toys, early American tin, Marklin boats, pressed-steel automotive from DeGraw and Moyer estate collections, holiday and Brownies
The Friday, April 27 session starts with fabulous European toys, autos, motorcycles and airplanes, and also features German lithographed-tin wind-up Lehmanns, and Part II of a superlative collection of French-made Martin clockwork toys. All rate very highly for rarity and condition.
Highlighting the Friday session is a superb 11-inch Marklin limousine. “Marklin didn’t make very many automotive toys, so this one is a true rarity,” said Jeanne Bertoia, owner of Bertoia Auctions. Another top lot from day one is a pristine clockwork robot called Tremendous Mike. In near-mint condition and accompanied by its original box, the Japanese postwar classic is expected to make $6,000-$9,000.
Also from Japan’s golden era of toy production comes a boxed ATC Buick estimated at $2,000-$3,000. There will also be many fine European motorcycles from a private collection, among them a very rare M&K lithographed single-cylinder bike estimated at $4,000-$6,000.
The 55-lot array of clockwork characters by Fernand Martin was selectively acquired over a 60-year period by a New York collector. It is the second half of a collection Jeanne described as “one of the best Martin collections we’ve ever seen.” Its prized contents include a Performing Monkey, Barber, Washerwoman, Cakewalk, Diablo, Man with Barrels, Drunkard, Chef, The Perfect Fisherman, and Man Sweeping Floor. A possible one-of-a-kind piece is the circa-1892 Le Cherif depicting an Arab rider on a camel. “We’ve never seen another example of the toy,” Jeanne noted. A full complement of Lehmann (German) characters includes many collector favorites, including the Man Da Rin and Nanni (Anxious Bride).
A Connecticut collector’s extensive assortment of desirable Popeye toys follows the cartoon sailor’s adventures through a variety of pursuits. There’s a Linemar Popeye Pilot Air-O-Plane, which is one of the rarest of all 1950s Japanese Popeye toys; as well as a 1958 remote battery-operated Popeye in Rowboat.
A virtual flotilla of incredible Marklin boats will be ready to lift anchor and set sail for the high seas. Vying for flagship honors are a Battleship Baltimore and Pleasure Yacht. A Bing Furst Bismarck battleship provides additional support to the German naval offering.
Friday’s session continues with approximately 120 lots of European and American trains and accessories, and a very nice line-up of early American clockwork and tin toys. Ives clockwork toys are led by a circa-1875 production known as Boxers, which depicts two youthful black pugilists. Other Ives toys to be auctioned include a Preacher at the Pulpit, Violinist, and an elusive Walking Santa figure.
Collectors of American tin will be spoiled for choice with the many 19th-century American tin toys in the auction from the Donald and Bette Scandrol collection. A circa-1874 Althof Bergmann horse-drawn fire pumper is hand-painted and all original, while a near-mint 1880 Stevens & Brown Boy on Velocipede comes with blue-ribbon provenance from the Max Berry collection. “We had the pleasure of selling this important toy for the first time in 2014, when we conducted the auction of Max Berry’s collection,” Jeanne said. “We’re delighted to have the chance to auction it again, and we’re sure that collectors who were outbid the first time around will be pleased to have another chance to acquire it.”
The Saturday, April 28 session will open with a category that always attracts a crowd of enthusiastic collectors to Bertoia’s sales: holiday antiques. The Christmas spirit will fill the gallery’s gleaming showcases with Santa figures, Santas in reindeer-drawn sleighs, and large clockwork nodding Santas, including a St. Nicholas with porcelain head, riding a magnificent dapple horse. The well-sculpted equine is actually a candy container and has a removable head for accessing sweets. Estimate: $7,000-$9,000
Also ready for the spotlight is Part I of Ed and Nan Wagoner’s charming collection of Palmer Cox Brownies. Considered one of the great, old collections, it includes Brownie candy containers and many other types of novelties. An 1895 Brownie Halloween nodder – which would be just as desirable to a Halloween collector as a Brownie collector – depicts one of the whimsical sprites as a veggie man with extended legs. Its pre-sale estimate is $800-$1,200.
A small grouping of teddy bears includes several choice lots, such as a 20-inch Steiff rod bear in the rare apricot color, and an appealing 20-inch Steiff cinnamon bear. Among the many beautiful dolls to cross the auction block is a 6-inch Bru Bebe with blue paperweight eyes, and an 8-inch Tete Jumeau Bebe.
Heavy metal will confidently roll into the gallery, starting with 200 lots of pressed-steel toys and pedal cars from the estate collections of two of the hobby’s most revered individuals – the late Gene DeGraw and the late Tiny Moyer. Every imaginable type of vehicle from premier manufacturers will be offered. An overview of highlights includes a Kingsbury Little Jim fire truck and a number of top Buddy ‘L’ productions, including a passenger bus, boxed Sheffield Farms dairy truck, and Buddy ‘L’ Junior milk delivery van. An impressive Gendron Buick will set the pace for the fleet of pedal cars.
Both horse-drawn and automotive cast-iron toys will be auctioned, including many rare examples. A near-mint Hubley HFD hook and ladder was formerly in the Bob Brady collection. Other Hubleys sure to attract attention are a boxed 12-cylinder racecar in flawless condition on par with old store stock, and a very scarce Surfer Girl. An Arcade White dump truck comes with its original box – always a welcome bonus.
Next up will be cast-iron mechanical banks, doorstops, and approximately one dozen cast-iron cigar cutters and tobacciana accessories, including a coin-operated match machine. This boutique collection leads to an outstanding assemblage of mechanical banks. Expected to finish in the top slots are a pristine Acrobat, a Perfection Registering, and one of the most historically important of all cast-iron mechanicals: A Freedman’s Bank. Its illustrious lineage includes ownership by such legendary collectors as Ed Mosler, Stan Sax, Andrew Emerine, and Max Berry. Of museum quality, this exceptional bank should finish in the six-figure range. In the still bank section, all eyes will be on an Ives Palace and an 1865 brass pattern for the rare bank.
The auction will close with an array of figural cast-iron doorstops personally curated by Jeanne Bertoia, an internationally recognized expert on the subject of doorstops. The list of auction highlights covers animal, human and architectural forms, with a few of the stand-outs being: Bradley & Hubbard’s Whistling Jim, Turkey, Rabbit, and Squirrel doorstops; and a rare Spencer Swan & Rooster. A Hubley full-figure Giraffe rounds out the menagerie. And last but not least, Bertoia’s will present the ever-popular Fish series of Art Deco doorstops, including the Bathing Beauty, Parlor Maid and Messenger Boy. “Only the very best-quality doorstops were accepted for this sale, so even the most seasoned collector is likely to find an ‘upgrade’ here,” said Jeanne.