VINELAND, N.J. – Many view the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as the starting point for the holiday shopping season, but antique toy collectors are known for their love of “early buying.” To them, the “most wonderful time of the year” begins when the Bertoia family opens its gallery doors to guests who’ve come for their always-festive Annual Fall Auction. This year’s edition, slated for November 9-11, features more than 1,400 high-quality lots across many dozens of categories. The uncataloged bonus session (Nov. 11) presents a wide range of excellent toys similar to the types offered year round in the popular Bertoia Basics auction series. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available all three days via LiveAuctioneers.
The 500-lot Friday session is brimming with cast-iron toys and banks. A fleet of transportation toys is led by a rare Hubley Say It With Flowers delivery motorcycle and other coveted ’cycles, including a Crash Car, Traffic Car and other classics. Additionally, there are several cast-iron airplanes and ultra-desirable Vindex farm toys. A number of entries in the cast iron section boast provenance from the incomparable Donald Kaufman collection and still have their special hangtags from Bertoia’s famous 2009-2011 series of sales that grossed over $12 million.
A fine array of cast-iron mechanical banks will be offered, including Calamity, Boy Scout Camp, Horse Race, and a rare and beautiful Girl Skipping Robe. Very scarce still banks will cross the auction block, as well. Among the highlights are an Old South Church, mid-size version of House with Bay Windows, Hubley Mascot, and an Ives Palace, which is highly regarded by collectors for its superior casting.
Cast-iron doorstops are a staple in Bertoia sales. A virtual garden of Hubley florals will be in bloom, accompanied by dog forms representing various breeds. Standouts include a Bradley & Hubbard “Whistling Jim,” and one of very few known examples of The Columbia. Depicting a full-figure semi-nude woman in a Grecian-style drape, this doorstop is known to most collectors only from its inclusion in the seminal doorstop reference book Bertoia Auctions’ owner, Jeanne Bertoia, authored in 1985.
The extensive lineup of comic character toys, many in their original boxes, includes numerous Popeye toys, a Gunthermann Jiggs bumper car, a Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd Whoopee Car, a rare prewar celluloid Cowboy Mickey Riding Pluto, a Japanese Mickey/Minnie Playland Theater, and a boxed Marx Honeymoon Express, among many others.
Next up are the “big boy” toys of pressed steel, with many having provenance from the late Tiny Moyer’s collection. All of the most-desired brands are represented, such as Keystone, Kingsbury, Buddy ‘L’ and American National. Twenty pedal cars will be ready to roll, including a Bugatti boattail racer and a marvelous contemporary pedal car with Mickey and Minnie passengers, a Mickey hood ornament, body decals, a detailed dashboard, and rear trunk that opens. In keeping with the motoring theme, there will also be a colorful selection of double-sided porcelain automotive-service signs and gas pump globes.
Nearly 800 lots comprise the Saturday session, which is led by European and American trains. Collectors will surely be chasing the Marklin passenger sets and cars in various gauges, as well as the extremely fine Marklin gauge 3 freight shed. A Schoenner (German) gauge 2 set and an American Carlisle & Finch freight set are also among the train highlights.
European toys run the gamut of golden-age production, from a large Bing battleship (ex Malcolm Forbes collection) and rare Erzgebirge toys, to clockwork character and early automotive toys. Within the blue-chip mix are a pristine Gunthermann tonneau, Hans Eberl clown porter, M&K zeppelin and airplane go-round, Lehmann wind-ups, and French-made Martin toys, including a very rare Roller Skater.
Holiday antiques are always in the spotlight at Bertoia’s Fall Auctions. This year’s selection includes a stellar array of Christmas fur-robed Santas, Santas in sleighs, reindeer, nodders and candy containers, display pieces and kugels. Several items that are expected to finish near the top of prices realized are: a fabulous belsnickle with a glass-icicle beard, a large Santa nodder/trade stimulator in a white rattan-type auto, and a Santa riding a polar bear that growls when its cord is pulled.
An old Pennsylvania farmhouse was the source of a spectacular 40-year Halloween collection. “There is so much in this collection, which is completely new to the marketplace, that we’ve divided it into two parts, with part one in our November 10 session,” Jeanne said. Nestled among the many high-quality die-cuts and jack-o’-lanterns is a grouping of extremely rare and amusing veggie people and animals, including a cabbage head and a veggie elephant.
There are some true gems awaiting advertising collectors, like the rare Snow Boy Washing Powder sign with a relief image of a boy on his sled. Coveted British figural biscuit tins from the Byron Fink collection are entered, including a Crawford Rolls-Royce, Huntley & Palmers Reading Speedboat, a Pride of London airplane, and many other rarities.
Saturday’s offering concludes with dollhouses and shops, a fantastic glass-eyed dachshund skittles (9 pins) set, and the second half of the Ed and Nan Wagoner Brownie collection, featuring a large Kodak Brownies trade stimulator and a Christmas tree with 12 Palmer Cox Brownies hanging on its branches.
The Sunday bonus session includes toys, 150 holiday lots, and in Jeanne’s words, “many surprises that will make it a very rewarding day for collectors at all levels.”