Skip to content

Lifetime antique toy collections form cornerstones of Bertoia’s Sept. 22 auction

Ives (American) Baseball Players skittles set with 10 players and wood ball. Est. $3,500-$5,000 

VINELAND, N.J. – Antique toy collectors know that every Bertoia auction is planned with quality, rarity and authenticity as its foundation, whether it’s a premium-level Signature Sale or a boutique-style online-only Bertoia Basics event. Bertoia’s sales often bring together outstanding, handpicked consignments from multiple collections, creating buying opportunities across many subcategories. But every so often, the family-owned New Jersey auction house is privileged to offer the toy community the crème de la crème of only a few esteemed collections in one big day of buying and selling. That will be the case on September 22, when Bertoia’s presents a Fall Signature Sale showcasing Benjamin Michel’s Marklin trains and stations, Douglas Jackman’s still banks, and Frank Mohr’s Martin and early American clockwork toys, and automata. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

“We are so excited about this sale,” said Bertoia Auctions’ owner, Jeanne Bertoia. “Just reading over the catalog descriptions and seeing the consistently superior quality throughout tells us this will be one of those auction milestones that collectors will remember and talk about for years to come.”

Fernand Martin (French), ‘L’Hercule Popularaire’ clockwork toy, circa 1914, with rare original box. Strongman figure simulates weightlifting motion. Est. $6,000-$9,000

The 60-year Frank Mohr collection is “one of the all-time greats,” Jeanne said. A retired Presbyterian minister and ATCA member who bought consistently at auctions and from fellow collectors and dealers at shows, Mohr always favored toys that were mechanical or had some sort of movement. He is especially well known for his collection of French-made Fernand Martin clockwork toys, many of which are accompanied by their original boxes. Also reflecting his fascination for 19th and early 20th-century mechanical technology, Mohr amassed an enviable collection of European automata.

Ives (American) Cutter Sleigh, circa 1893, only known fully intact example with original seated figure. Widely conidered one of the finest toys ever made. Provenance: Max Berry collection, the Covert and Gertrude Hegarty collection; Philadelphia’s Perelman Antique Toy Museum. $100,000-$120,000

Delving into early American tin and bell toys, Mohr employed the same successful mantra he had used in building his other specialty collections: buy the best and leave the rest. Among the jewels in his collection are several rare Jerome Secor African-American musician automata, a George Brown clockwork hoop toy with boy figure (ex Max Berry collection), an Althof Bergmann goat bell toy, and his most highly prized acquisition, the only known Ives Cutter Sleigh that is intact with its original figure. Manufactured around 1893, the Cutter Sleigh is considered by many experts to be the finest American toy ever produced. Mohr’s near-mint example boasts an enviable provenance that includes the Max Berry collection, the Covert and Gertrude Hegarty collection, and Philadelphia’s Perelman Antique Toy Museum.

George Brown (American) Boy with American Flag in Clockwork Hoop toy, circa 1880, hand-painted. Provenance: Max Berry collection. Est. $10,000-$14,000

The second featured collection of the auction’s golden triad is Douglas Jackman’s superb assemblage of still banks. A highly respected New England dealer who co-owns Douglas Jackman Antiques in Rockingham, Vermont, Jackman vigilantly scoured high-end Americana and general antiques shows for rare banks throughout his 40-year collecting odyssey. His dedication and skill at networking with other dealers, who often set aside still-bank discoveries specifically for him, resulted in a collection that numbers 1,295 banks, many of them quite rare.

Small Smith & Egge (American) Boston State House still bank. Est. $3,000-$4,000


The list of highlights in the Jackman collection is long and impressive. Its contents include: a Detroit Street Savings bank believed to be a sole survivor, an Alphabet bank, and one of few known Bunker Hill banks. Both his General Butler and Peters Weatherbird banks exhibit fantastic original paint. Additionally, there are extremely rare examples of a Billy Possum, Canadian Beaver, and one of only two or three known Beehive banks in the yellow-paint variation.

“Douglas Jackman approached bank collecting differently. He wasn’t in the toy-show world. He would set up or shop at the premier Americana and antique shows, especially around New England,” Jeanne said. “If he wanted a particular bank and it eluded him, he never gave up. He kept looking till eventually he found it.”

Pristine J. & E. Stevens (American) General Butler still bank. One of the nicest of all known examples. Est. $4,000-$6,000

The third major collection in Bertoia’s September 22nd auction spotlight comes from Benjamin Michel. His specialty is Marklin trains and European train stations. A retired New Jersey trial attorney, Michel is of French heritage and has made numerous trips to France to purchase fine French paintings, antique toy soldiers and other antiques.

Some 30 or 40 years ago, he discovered Marklin trains and found that he could be very successful buying from “the source.” It was particularly helpful that he had friends in the antique trade who were more than willing to locate the Marklins he desired.

The Benjamin Michel collection is home to many Marklin rarities. Cars include 1-gauge examples of both the famous cream and blue/grey Budweiser beer car and Schlitz beer car with the whimsical Schlitz globe logo. Both cars have excellent detailing and doors that open. Each is estimated at $15,000-$20,000.

Marklin (German) 1 gauge clockwork 0-4-0 locomotive made for the American market, hand-painted in bright, attractive colors. Est. $10,000-$15,000

Also expected to attract strong competition is a Marklin 1-gauge passenger set with an early hand-painted clockwork 0-4-0 American outline locomotive and three cars made exclusively for the US market in the Limited Vestibule Express road name. The cars include a seven-window buffet car, four-window coach, and a baggage car. Estimate: $8,000-$10,000. Other 1-gauge cars include a passenger car with Pennsylvania Railroad markings, $4,000-$6,000; and a scarce Royal Blue Limited passenger car, $6,000-$8,000.

Trains with such an illustrious pedigree deserve to be received at a train station befitting royalty, and that job is easily fulfilled by a Marklin 1-gauge Grand Central Station, with opening doors, hand-painted brickwork and roof; and interior tables and chairs. Its pre-sale estimate is $20,000-$30,000.

Marklin (German) Grand Central Station, 1 gauge, hand-painted simulated brickwork, opening doors, interior furnishings. Est. $20,000-$30,000

“Many collectors’ wishes will be granted at our September 22nd Signature Sale,” said Jeanne Bertoia. “The Bertoia family looks forward to greeting guests personally and making sure their time spent at our gallery is enjoyable and memorable.”

Aubade a la Lune musical automaton, French, circa 1885, painted papier-mache face, glass eyes, retractable tongue. Plays mandolin and sings to quarter moon. 21in. high to top of moon. Est. $12,000-$20,000

To contact Bertoia Auctions about any item in the September 22 sale, call 856-692-1881 or email

[av_button label=’Click to view the online catalog and sign up to bid’ link=’manually,’ link_target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ position=’center’ label_display=” icon_select=’no’ icon=’ue800′ font=’entypo-fontello’ color=’theme-color’ custom_bg=’#444444′ custom_font=’#ffffff’ av_uid=’av-qddps5′ admin_preview_bg=”]