Antique toy collection of Curtis and Linda Smith heads to Bertoia March 16

VINELAND, N.J. – Antique toy collectors who dream of time-traveling to the 1970s and ’80s when now-legendary toy shows and auctions took place have an opportunity to bid on items originally collected then. The breathtaking collection of Linda Smith and her late husband Curtis Smith will be offered in a single-owner auction (the first of two) on Saturday, March 16 at Bertoia. The catalog is now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

“Curt and Linda Smith were prominent in the toy-collecting fraternity for decades,” said Michael Bertoia, president of Bertoia Auctions. “Both were active members of the Antique Toy Collectors of America (ATCA) and served on numerous committees over the years. Curt even served as the club’s president.”

The Smiths’ decades-long collecting adventure would take them to now-historic East Coast and European auctions, shows, and markets, where they acquired pieces with provenance from such fabled pioneers of the antique toy hobby as Louis Hertz, Bernard Barenholtz, Athel Spilhaus, Covert Hegarty, and Leon Perelman.

Top billing in this month’s auction goes to a Carpenter cast-iron Tally Ho horse-drawn coach. All-original, including its removable, often-missing figures, the dashing 26in-long vehicle is described by Michael Bertoia as being “the finest of all known examples.” Its estimate is $50,000-$75,000.

Curtis Smith made no secret of the fact that he especially loved firefighting pieces. The Smith collection includes a large-scale German horse-drawn fire pumper of hand-painted tin with painted wooden horses and composition fireman figure at the reins. Remarkably, it retains its original rubber fire hose and hand lever for pumping water. In excellent condition, the 14in-long toy is estimated at $15,000-$25,000.

Linda Smith has always favored the hand-lever velocipedes in their collection, in particular a circa-1880 Uncle Sam clockwork perambulator that is believed to be one of only two surviving examples. The Uncle Sam figure is dressed in its original cloth jacket and ‘American Flag’ striped pants. This famous toy is pictured in two esteemed reference books: American Clockwork Toys by Blair Whitton and American Tin Toys by Bernard Barenholtz. It was owned by both authors, consecutively, before joining the Smith collection and now comes to auction with a $40,000-$60,000 estimate.

A grand Althof Bergmann circus roundabout, measuring 17in in diameter, is unquestionably one of the finest early American clockwork toys ever to reach the marketplace. It has a storied background, having been discovered in a Pennsylvania attic by a picker. According to Linda Smith, the picker had been given permission to “clear out the attic and keep anything he wanted.” He was not a toy expert, so he listed it on eBay, where it was purchased by Steven Weiss of Gemini Antiques Ltd, then resold to the Smiths. In pristine condition and in fine working order, it is the only known example of its type. It carries an estimate of $30,000-$50,000.

Politically significant, a circa-1890s George Brown clockwork hoop toy depicts a William Goodwin-made girl with a hand-painted head pushing a wheeled vehicle with a suffragette balance-figure at its center. The 11.5in toy is pictured in Whitton’s American Clockwork Toys and has a $10,000-$15,000 estimate.

Michael Bertoia said: “The Curtis and Linda collection is a classic, and the March auction – part one of a two-part series – is an event the world will want to watch. The high condition that distinguishes the entire collection is unrivaled. Many of the best of all known examples, whether tin or cast iron, are included in the Smith collection. Some of the primitive American tin pieces, which are so desired by collectors, have thick, bright, original paint. These are the types of toys you just never see. They were acquired by collectors 40 to 50 years ago, and unless a collection is auctioned as a whole, there aren’t many opportunities to buy toys of this caliber.”

Bertoia Auctions wraps Schroeder toy collection series at $5.7M

Kyser & Rex (Philadelphia) Roller Skating cast-iron mechanical bank, excellent condition retaining bright original paint colors. Sold for $24,000
Kyser & Rex (Philadelphia) Roller Skating cast-iron mechanical bank, excellent condition retaining bright original paint colors. Sold for $24,000
Kyser & Rex (Philadelphia) Roller Skating cast-iron mechanical bank, excellent condition retaining bright original paint colors. Sold for $24,000

VINELAND, N.J. – After the toy community had the excitement of bidding on treasures from the 60-year Aaron and Abby Schroeder collection in March and September 2021, only one question lingered: was there more? Indeed, there was. With a heady $5.7 million subtotal from last year’s events as its foundation, the third and final installment put the exclamation point on the series. On October 14th, Bertoia’s presented “Abby’s Attic Finds,” a 500-lot discovery selection that added another $550,000 to boost the grand total to $6.25 million.

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Bertoia’s to auction Bill and Stevie Weart antique toy collection, Sept. 8-9 

Hubley cast-iron ‘Say It With Flowers’ delivery motorcycle, 10in long, the book example depicted in Bill and Stevie Weart’s ‘Cast Iron Automotive Toys’ (2000) reference book. Rare all-original toy in excellent to pristine condition. Estimate $15,000-$25,000

VINELAND, N.J. – On September 8-9, with absentee and Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers, Bertoia’s will auction the antique toy collection of the late Bill and Stevie Weart, a couple whose contributions to the toy hobby were immense. Anyone who ever had the privilege of visiting the Wearts at their magnificent home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, was left with the impression that they had witnessed something exceptional for these times. Their grand three-story residence, which was situated in a tranquil parklike setting, visually reflected what was most important to them in a home: fine architecture, tasteful furnishings, a garden that beckoned wild birds, and most of all, an interior design plan that prioritized the display of their spectacular toy collection.

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Bertoia’s wraps stellar year with $2.32M sale of toys, banks, holiday antiques

Original Freedman’s mechanical bank, made circa 1880 by Jerome B. Secor, Bridgeport, Connecticut. Discovered in a New Jersey attic two years ago and one of fewer than 10 known examples. Sold for $174,000 against an estimate of $60,000-$100,000

VINELAND, N.J. – Antique toy collectors couldn’t have asked for more exciting buying opportunities than they had in 2021, thanks in no small way to the incredible roster of sales conducted throughout the year by Bertoia Auctions. One high-profile collection after another crossed the auction block at the company’s inviting New Jersey gallery, with president and principal auctioneer Michael Bertoia maintaining a lively pace at the podium during each of the events. Absentee and Internet live bidding at all of Bertoia’s 2021 auctions was facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.

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Bertoia’s presents fine European & American toys, holiday antiques Nov. 18-19

VINELAND, N.J. – On November 18-19, family-owned Bertoia Auctions will conclude a record-setting year with the 2021 edition of every toy collector’s favorite event: their Annual Fall Sale, with absentee and Internet live bidding available through LiveAuctioneers. Always a beautiful presentation, the Fall Sale is reserved for genuinely exceptional toys and holiday antiques sourced from many high-quality collections. In the past, the Fall Sale has been described by the media as “a rare opportunity to purchase from the top shelves of dozens of high-end collectors.”

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Milestone to auction sensational collection of rare antique toys, Oct. 2

Paya tin windup motorcycle with sidecar, 11in long, Spanish. Rare all-original and complete example with working bellows. Estimate $3,000-$5,000

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – Collectors of rare antique and vintage toys – whether manufactured in Europe, Japan or the USA – are in for a treat on Saturday, October 2nd. That’s when Milestone Auctions of suburban Cleveland, Ohio, will present its Fall Antique Toy Spectacular starring one of the most diverse collections of fine toys ever amassed. With the exception of a few select additions from other consignors, the 704-lot auction is devoted exclusively to the marquee collection, whose superlative holdings are a testament to decades of searching and networking within the toy hobby. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

Featured: 138 rare toy motorcycles, 117 Lehmann & Gunthermann windups, George Brown masterpiece + museum-quality Ives toys, Marx prototypes, character toys

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Rare toy vehicles drive Bertoia’s May 21-22 auction

Ernst Plank pontoon boat, estimated at $3,000-$5,000
Ernst Plank pontoon boat, estimated at $3,000-$5,000
Ernst Plank pontoon boat, estimated at $3,000-$5,000

VINELAND, N.J. – The exceptional antique toy and train collection of the late Paul Cole (1931-2020), a man whose career distinctions were rivaled only by his passion for hobbies and athletic pursuits, will be auctioned at Bertoia’s on May 21-22. Attendance at the live auction will be limited and by reservation only, and in-person previewing will be made available by appointment only. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

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