Holiday surprises await at Bertoia’s Nov. 13-15 auction

Marklin hand-painted tin Battleship Olga, German, 30 inches long, est. $20,000-$30,000

Marklin hand-painted tin Battleship ‘Olga,’ German, 30 inches long, est. $20,000-$30,000


VINELAND, N.J. – Everyone loves holiday surprises, and there will be many from which to choose at Bertoia’s Nov. 13-15 auction featuring 2,000+ lots of fabulous toy and train rarities from pedigreed collections. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

One of the more diverse sales of recent times, Bertoia’s Holiday Surprises auction goes beyond basic categories to delve into the subcategories that so often produce exciting crossover items – specialty areas like penny toys, biscuit tins, figural cast-iron doorstops, and holiday antiques. In keeping with the popular tradition they established years ago at their major fall sale, Bertoia’s will devote most of the Sunday session to Christmas and Halloween collectibles.

“There are so many great collections in this sale, no one will feel left out, but trains are one of the strong points,” said Bertoia Auctions associate Rich Bertoia. “On the Friday, we’re featuring Part II of the late Michael Mann’s collection together with the late Jim Crone’s collection. Everyone in the train world knew these two men. They were very involved in the hobby and extremely well liked by their peers.” As luck would have it, a late consignment that arrived at Bertoia’s gallery adds a crowning in the form of an estate collection of rare, high-quality Marklin buildings and train accessories.

Marklin hand-painted tin accessory buildings are “always in demand, but hard to find,” Bertoia observed.

In total, 338 trains will be offered. There are many Marklin 0 and 1 gauge trains of the type produced in the 1930s, some with 19-inch passenger cars. Among the hand-painted rarities are two examples of the Congressional Limited and several early Marklin sets with hand-painted cars, including the Pennsylvania Railroad model. Along the same lines, there is a PLM coach by Carette. For those collectors who may be in need of a nice Marklin PLM engine, several will be available. In the American railroad yard there are many fine trains by Carlisle & Finch, Lionel and Ives.


Ives Cavendish Special #5 train set with outer box and four interior boxes, est. $2,000-$2,500

Ives Cavendish Special #5 train set with outer box and four interior boxes, est. $2,000-$2,500


Friday’s session is brimming with European toys, including Gunthermann hand-painted tin toys and a beautiful collection of penny toys, whose piece de resistance is a Santa Claus pulling a sleigh – “a penny toy worth many pennies,” Bertoia said.

An enviable fleet of European automotive toys by premier brands is led by a 1903-1910 JEP tin “old timer” clockwork open auto with Buffalo Bill driver figure – a rare piece featured in David Pressland’s Great Book of Tin Toys but never before seen at auction.

Armchair admirals will have their fun, too, with nautical choices that include Bing boats and battleships, and ocean liners from multiple German manufacturers (see Marklin Battleship Olga at top).

A small but very nicely curated selection of figural biscuit tins from a single British consignor is predominantly comprised of vehicles, the forms collectors can’t get enough of. Mostly old acquisitions that have been away from the public eye, they include a fire engine, double-decker bus, and several variations of Crumpsall Cream Cracker trucks.

The automotive bonanza continues in Saturday’s session, with cast-iron cars, trucks, fire engines, buses, airplanes, and heavy equipment/construction toys. Cast-iron motorcycles will fly the colors of many most-wanted manufacturers, like Vindex, Globe and Hubley.

The quality and charm of early American toys is typified in a horse-drawn Ives Blakeslee horse-drawn cart, a Carpenter Tally-Ho, and several choice fire toys and bell toys.


Circa-1893 Ives horse-drawn cart, 18 inches long, est. $14,000-$18,000

Circa-1893 Ives horse-drawn cart, 18 inches long, est. $14,000-$18,000


The 150-piece offering of pressed steel is highlighted by Metalcraft advertising trucks from the Bill Moody collection Part II plus fine examples for collectors at all levels from Buddy ‘L,’ American National, Structo, Kingsbury, Sturditoy and Smith-Miller.



Metalcraft pressed-steel ‘Pure Oil’ truck with original box, 14½ inches long, $1,500-$2,000

Metalcraft pressed-steel ‘Pure Oil’ truck with original box, 14½ inches long, $1,500-$2,000


A Colorado estate collection contains 35 fantastic pedal cars. “The owner was a very private collector who was not known to most in the hobby,” said Bertoia. “I couldn’t believe the enormity of the collection, which had been stored in large, climate-controlled warehouses. The cars had been restored to a very high standard years ago.”

Mechanical and still bank collectors will love the array of rare and desirable examples chosen for this sale. Mechanical highlights include a Bunker Hill bank replicating the famous Massachusetts monument. In a category of its own is a painted Independence Hall still bank (shown below) that for 35 years was part of a Christmas window display at the beloved Haddonfield, N.J., shop The Owl’s Tale. One of fewer than 10 known, it is the first of many toys that Bertoia’s will be auctioning from the renowned antiques establishment, long known for its genteel environment and sumptuous inventory.


Independence Hall still bank, 15½ inches long, formerly in the collection of The Owl’s Tale, Haddonfield, N.J., est. $3,500-$4,500

Independence Hall still bank, 15½ inches long, formerly in the collection of The Owl’s Tale, Haddonfield, N.J., est. $3,500-$4,500


Also on Saturday, bidders will find 169 lots of comic character toys from A to Z – Amos & Andy to Zilotone. “You’ll see all of the classics in this sale,” Bertoia said.

Artful cast-iron doorstops, with their appealing colors and subject matter, include superior examples of Bradley & Hubbard’s Rabbit and Turkey, plus many other animal and people from a variety of other manufacturers.

More than 250 lots of holiday antiques from two long-time collections feature both early Halloween and Christmas items, the latter including everything from popular glass kugels to whimsical three-dimensional novelties, like Santa driving a large wicker car. There are three examples of a robed Santa figure pulling a sleigh, as well as a Santa riding a reindeer that pulls a moss-covered sleigh laden with toys. There are many other Santas designed as candy containers, belsnickels and display figures. The old-fashioned Christmas atmosphere continues with a rare Game of Merry Christmas, an Erzgebirge table display, Christmas novelties, 75-100 glass ornaments and 50 Dresdens.


German reindeer candy container with Santa rider, 17 inches tall to top of Santa’s head, est. $5,000-$6,000

German reindeer candy container with Santa rider, 17 inches tall to top of Santa’s head, est. $5,000-$6,000


Collectors of Christmas antiques also like animal figures on platforms, Bertoia said, describing the menagerie of hand-painted and stuffed sheep, horses, elephants and dogs. They form a natural affinity group with the paper-over-wood toys, Noah’s Arks and Schoenhut animals in the sale.

Sunday’s session also includes 25 antique and vintage teddy bears (mostly Steiff), and 35 fine dolls such as Queen Annes, an 1890s Bebe Reklame, a Carl Bergner three-face doll, a rare Faulck and Roussel bebe, and an all-original pre-Greiner boy doll. Also gracing this session is a very nice grouping dollhouses and dollhouse miniatures.

Bertoia’s Holiday Surprises Auction will be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 13, 14 and 15, 2015 with absentee and Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.

Start times: 11 a.m. (Eastern Time) on Friday, 9 a.m. on Saturday, 10 a.m. on Sunday.

For additional information on any item in the sale, call Bertoia Auctions at 856-692-1881 or email

View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to