Bertoia Auctions

2141 DeMarco Drive, Vineland, New Jersey 08360

About Auction House

The most recognized name in the antique toy and bank auctions venue today is without question, Bertoia Auctions of Vineland, NJ. No other auction house has sold more toys in a span of twenty-plus auctioning years, and the numerous world record prices established at Bertoia’s is a signature trademark to a very distinguished campaign of auctioning expertise.

Auction Previews & News

14 Results
  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Bertoia’s to auction long-held Bill and Stevie Weart antique toy collection in special Sept. 8-9 Signature Auction

    Noted collectors for several decades, the Wearts also authored ‘Cast Iron Automotive Toys,’ a now-classic reference book about a category that was of particular interest to them VINELAND, N.J. – On September 8-9, 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 gracious 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. 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 In every room on every floor, there were custom-built showcases. Bill, a former executive engineer with Ford Motor Company, designed them solely to accommodate their precious toys. He also designed and crafted remarkable scale models of historical residences, furnishing and outfitting each of them so they functioned just as real houses would.  Bill and Stevie appreciated all sorts of antique playthings: European and American tin, automotive toys, Marklin boats, airplanes, trains, banks, dollhouses, candy containers, and especially cast-iron toys. They had an eye for whimsy and would incorporate toys into their decor with a subtlety that was delightful, for example, placing a George Brown toy atop the opened pages of a George Brown Sketchbook where that very model of toy was illustrated. The Wearts, themselves, left a literary legacy in the form of a book they co-authored in 2000. Titled Cast Iron Automotive Toys, it is still regarded as the go-to reference by cast-iron toy collectors.   The American cast iron category is amply represented in the auction lineup, with selections by Arcade, Dent, Hubley, Kenton, Wilkins,…

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Bertoia’s to host May 19-20 Annual Spring Auction featuring a variety of toys and Coca-Cola advertising

    Featured: Edward Lotz horse-drawn and American tin collection Part II, Ray Burgess Coca-Cola and soda pop advertising collection, penny toys, autos, motorcycles, banks, trains & much more VINELAND, N.J. – With winter in the rear-view mirror and the prospect of spring just around the corner, the Bertoia family is pleased to announce the next in a slate of outstanding sales planned for 2022: their May 19-20 Annual Spring Auction. All forms of bidding will be available, including live at Bertoia’s gallery (by reservation only), by phone, absentee, or live via the Internet through Bertoia Live or LiveAuctioneers. Two-sided Coca-Cola porcelain sign, dated 1941. Provenance: Ray Burgess collection. Estimate $1,500-$3,000 Variety is the spice of this exciting sale. The lineup incorporates a myriad of cross-collectible categories ranging from ultra-desirable toys, banks and trains to colorful antique and vintage advertising and ephemera. In addition to a huge array of tin wind-ups and pressed steel, there are substantial groupings of high-quality penny toys, select toy soldiers, and an extensive collection of coveted Coca-Cola and other soda fountain advertising items.  Both American and European tin wind-ups are featured, including whimsical character toys and early hand-painted productions by noted Continental manufacturers. The comic character section is led by several Nifty Toys and also includes a rare Spanish-made Harold Lloyd pony cart. In addition, there are European motorcycles and airplanes, and an impressive fleet of German and Japanese automotive toys.  German hand-painted tin toys include plink-plank toys by Gunthermann, Issmayer and other revered brands. Also joining in the fun are several boxed Lehmann toys, an all-original Gunthermann Clown Musicians toy, and a beautiful Hans Eberl Ta-Ra-Ra-Bumm clown car. European tin cars will be revved up and ready to motor across the auction block. Many of them were purchased from Bertoia’s series of sales devoted to the legendary Donald Kaufman collection. There are several sizes of Bing limousines – both lithographed and hand-painted types – Karl Bub and Distler autos; and Marklin constructor sets, to name but a few of the enticing entries. Japanese autos, many with original boxes, are highlighted by a shiny Atom racer.  Nearly…

  • Auction Result, Press Release
    Mickey & Minnie Mouse motorcycle sells for a staggering $222,000 at Bertoia’s $2.1M sale of Monique Knowlton antique toy collection

    A former NYC gallerist, Knowlton collected with an eye for art and paid the price to acquire toys of exceptional rarity and quality VINELAND, N.J. – One of the most exciting events ever to be held at Bertoia Auctions’ New Jersey gallery took place on March 11-12 with the sale of the spectacular Monique Knowlton antique toy collection. The globally publicized auction of mostly 20th-century European, American and Japanese toys kept collectors riveted as examples with stellar provenance commanded unheard-of prices. After the hammer fell on the last of 628 lots, Bertoia’s president and principal auctioneer Michael Bertoia confirmed to the media that the single-owner collection had achieved a grand total of $2.16 million, inclusive of 20% buyer’s premium. 75. TIPPCO MICKEY AND MINNIE MOUSE MOTORCYCLE | c. The top lot of the sale, a circa-1932 Tippco Mickey and Minnie tin wind-up motorcycle, stirred a bidding frenzy in the run-up to $222,000, a world-record auction price for any Disney toy. Prior to the sale, Bertoia’s had fielded numerous phone calls from bidders with an interest in the classic toy, which was estimated at $25,000-$45,000.  “There were several very substantial absentee bids in place, some from collectors who had tried unsuccessfully to win the toy at its last auction appearance twelve years ago. Those absentee bids faced strong competition from bidders on the phones and in the room,” Bertoia said. “Personally, I couldn’t have guessed how high it would go – that would have been impossible – but I felt confident that it would set an auction record because of all the excitement surrounding it. We were all surprised and happy for Monique when the motorcycle sold for such a fantastic price.” Knowlton had paid $65,500 for the Mickey and Minnie motorcycle at Bertoia’s 2010 auction of the Donald Kaufman collection. Kaufman was a co-founder of KB Toys. Previously, it had been owned by visionary Disney toy collectors and reference book authors Doug and Pat Wengel. The new owner is a private collector in the United States who bid over the phone. Comic character toys in general, but especially those depicting…

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Bertoia’s March 11-12 No-Reserve Signature Auction Exclusively Features International Model Monique Knowlton’s Antique Toy Collection

    A former cover girl and art gallery owner, Knowlton never compromised on condition, always buying the best, preferably boxed examples VINELAND, N.J. – On March 11 and 12, Bertoia’s will auction, without reserve, the Monique Knowlton antique toy collection, a spectacular assemblage of comic character, German automotive and American toys; as well as out-of-this-world Japanese robots and space toys. Tippco German Army motorcycle with sidecar, circa 1920s, windup. Estimate $10,000-$15,000 While she was never a regular at toy shows or auctions and is probably unknown to most other collectors, Knowlton – a former international fashion model and art gallery owner – comes from a world whose focus is on aesthetics, first and foremost. With her well cultivated eye for quality and perfection, she came to appreciate the beauty of antique toys after seeing similar objects compatibly incorporated into art installations.  Knowlton remarked: “Even if toys were very rare, if their condition wasn’t 100 percent, I wouldn’t buy them. I wanted things that were perfect, original and working, and if I had a choice, I would always buy a toy that had its original box.” Michael Bertoia, president and principal auctioneer at Bertoia Auctions, recalled: “Monique was always a great customer of ours. She’s very detail oriented and has a curator’s eye, which is to be expected of someone who operated a successful Manhattan art gallery. She heeded our advice and went after only the best examples. Whenever she was presented with the opportunity to bid in premier sales like the Donald Kaufman series, she didn’t hold back, and that’s very clearly reflected in the collection she put together over the years.”  Among the most coveted classics to be auctioned is a 1926-27 J. Chein Felix Frolic estimated at $12,000-$18,000. The largest lithographed comic character toy ever made, standing 11 inches tall on a 13 by 4-inch platform, the Felix Frolic was also the first tin windup comic strip character toy to be licensed for manufacture in the United States. Fewer than a handful are known to exist. “Like every other toy in the collection, Monique’s Felix Frolic is very strong…

  • Auction Result, Press Release
    Bertoia’s wraps stellar year with $2.32M Annual Fall Sale of toys, banks and holiday antiques

    Top lots included $174,000 Freedman’s mechanical bank, Marklin Central Station, and 1870s George Brown ‘Monitor’ war boat 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. 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 The year’s most talked-about collections included Aaron and Abby Schroeder’s spectacular American and European toys; and Paul Cole’s awe-inspiring Marklin trains and classic American toys, which were sold in a series of dedicated single-owner sales. In April, collectors reveled in bidding on rarities from dozens of high-quality collections in the Annual Spring Auction, whose new hybrid format introduced a section of toys with price points that were especially attractive to new collectors. But how else would Bertoia’s conclude a record-setting year than with the 2021 edition of its popular Annual Fall Sale, which totaled $2.32 million, inclusive of 20% buyer’s premium. Held on November 18 and 19, the auction included more than 200 European tin toys, 50 Lehmann and Martin windup toys, American tin and clockwork toys, 75+ Schoenhuts and roly polys; figural cast-iron including banks; cast-iron automotive and horse-drawn toys; and pressed-steel trains. To the delight of those who collect nautical toys, the auction also featured a formidable lineup of antique American boats from the collection of author and toy boat authority Dick Claus.  The top performer from the Claus collection was a rare 14-inch clockwork version of the Monitor made in the 1870s by legendary American toymaker George Brown. All original, in pristine condition and presenting as pictured in The George Brown Sketchbook, it sold for $66,000 against an estimate of…

  • Auction Result
    Around the Auction World: November 2021

    Images from around the auction world in November of 2021. Image credit from left to right: Bonhams, Phillips, and Bertoia Auctions. Collage by Heemin Moon (Auction Daily). For many, November signaled autumn’s twilight and the beginning of winter. It was also another exciting month in the auction industry as major works came up for bid in New York’s marquee sales. And beyond these record-breaking events, bidders of all stripes pursued category-specific collectibles such as antique dinnerware, Star Wars figurines from the late 1970s, and everything turkey ahead of Thanksgiving. Here are the top headlines from around the auction world this November. Sotheby’s auctioneer Oliver Barker selling the Macklowe Collection. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s. Industry Trends November witnessed exceptional sale results from around the auction world as the largest houses hosted their New York marquee weeks. Sotheby’s led the way with the hotly-anticipated Macklowe Collection. Widely regarded as a trial of resilience in the high-end art market, the white-glove auction achieved USD 676.1 million. It was reportedly the highest-grossing auction in Sotheby’s history. Other notable results arrived later in the week, including a new record for Frida Kahlo (and Latin American artists), a fierce battle for a first printing copy of the United States Constitution, and new records for emerging artists. Sotheby’s marquee week totaled a historic $1.33 billion.  Competitors Christie’s and Phillips also flexed their resilience in the recovering art market. Phillips brought in $137.9 million, a house record, during its 20th Century and Contemporary Art auction. With this event, the company strengthened its reputation as a launch point for rising young artists. It established new highs for Shara Hughes, Ewa Juszkiewicz, and others. Additionally, Phillips presented the largest single-owner jewelry auction in company history at its Hong Kong location. Earlier in the month, Christie’s turned out strong results for the Cox Collection ($332 million), a 20th-Century Evening Sale ($419.9 million), and a 21st-Century Evening Sale ($219.3 million).  These results reflect a degree of stability at the top of the market as companies transition back to live and in-person events. And as Collins Dictionary names “NFT” the word of the…

  • Auction Industry
    Auction Daily’s 2021 Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt

    Bird's the word when it comes to Thanksgiving Day treats and treasures coming up for auction in November. Here are five gobble-gobble great finds for your consideration! Norman Rockwell, Home for Thanksgiving, 1945. Image from Heritage Auctions. Norman Rockwell’s Home for Thanksgiving  Let's kick off this Thanksgiving treasure hunt in the most iconic way possible. On November 5th, Heritage Auctions of Dallas, TX will present Norman Rockwell's Home for Thanksgiving in its American art auction. This heartwarming image appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on November 24th, 1945. The oil on canvas masterpiece measures 35 inches by 33 inches. Signed and inscribed by the artist, it is fully provenanced and authenticated. It features a 1940s-era autumnal scene of a handsome and vibrant soldier peeling potatoes alongside an older woman, possibly his mother or grandmother. Given the title of the work, it is safe to assume the two are preparing a side dish for their traditional Thanksgiving feast. Imagine the look on your Thanksgiving guests' faces if they saw this painting hanging on your dining room wall! This masterpiece carries a presale auction estimate of USD 4,000,000 to $6,000,000. Tiffany & Co. Shell & Thread pattern dinner plates. Image from Heritage Auctions. Tiffany & Co. Dinner Plates  For many folks, nothing says Thanksgiving like a plate piled high with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and other traditional fixings. Here are some extraordinary plates to help serve that highly anticipated annual meal! On November 16th, Heritage Auctions will offer lot #74029, a set of six Tiffany & Co. Shell & Thread pattern sterling silver dinner plates during the Fine Silver & Objects of Vertu sale. This extraordinary sextet was designed and produced in 1911 and is fully hallmarked. Each plate measures over 11 inches in diameter and features a plain circular well, wide shoulder, a molded and engraved rim, and an engraved roundel on the neck. These plates bring the phrase "doing the dishes" to a whole new level. They carry a presale auction estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. Yellow glass epergne. Image from Crescent City Auction Gallery. Vintage Glass…

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Bertoia’s Nov. 18-19 auction features magnificent European and American antique toys and holiday antiques

    Highlights: Dick Claus’ American boats, Ed & Norma Lotz’ cast-iron and tin toys, Norm Bower’s Schoenhuts, Kelly Verhelle’s Halloween collection, several top-notch Christmas collections George Brown ‘Monitor’ war boat, American, circa 1870s, 14in long, all original with clockwork motor, as pictured in ‘The George Brown Sketchbook.’ Pristine condition. Provenance: Dick Claus collection. Estimate $35,000-$45,000 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. 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.”  The selection includes more than 200 European tin toys, 50 Lehmann and Martin windup toys, American tin and clockwork toys, 75+ Schoenhuts and roly polys; figural cast-iron including banks; cast-iron automotive and horse-drawn toys; and pressed-steel trains. Also, the auction boasts a formidable lineup of pressed-steel trucks from the collection of the late Buddy George. A special highlight of the November auction is the American antique boat collection of Dick Claus, whose Marklin and other European nautical toys took in $3.1 million in Bertoia’s two-part auction series held in 2012. “What Dick Claus accomplished in building his unique collection was quite a feat,” said Bertoia Auctions’ president, Michael Bertoia. “When he initially consigned his European collection to us, we knew that it was considered the finest antique boat collection in the United States. However, after the two sales concluded and we had the opportunity to speak with many advanced boat collectors in Europe, who were among the buyers, we realized his collection was actually regarded as the world’s best. Some likened it to being the nautical-toy equivalent of the Donald Kaufman collection.” Dick’s European armada may have set sail for distant shores a decade ago, but now collectors can embark on a new adventure as they navigate their way through his fleet of 50 peerless American boats. All are 19th-century…

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Bertoia’s to auction Part II of the magnificent Aaron and Abby Schroeder Collection, Sept. 10-11

    Regarded as one of the ‘great old-time collections,’ the Schroeder trove features American and European toys and banks of astonishing condition and rarity VINELAND, N.J. – On September 10 and 11, Bertoia’s will add yet another chapter to the legacy of one of America’s greatest antique toy and bank collections as they auction Part II of the Aaron and Abby Schroeder Collection. In total, 896 lots will be offered. Considered by many to be in a league of its own, this vast and storied collection contains some of the rarest and most exquisite toys ever to reach the auction marketplace. It was lovingly assembled over several decades by the late songwriter/record producer Aaron Schroeder (1926-2009) and his wife and business partner of 49 years, Abby Schroeder. Together, the Schroeders built a powerful international music-publishing network. The collection’s holdings include an extraordinary selection of late-19th to early 20th-century American cast iron, including premier mechanical and still banks; ultra-desirable horse-drawn and bell toys, and early American tin and clockwork toys. The latter grouping, crowned by museum-worthy classics made by Ives, is beautifully complemented by a broad array of European tin toys.  Part I of the Schroeder collection, which was auctioned by Bertoia’s on March 5-6 of this year, realized $3.1 million. World-record auction prices were set throughout the two-day event. The sale’s top lot, a pristine to near-mint J & E Stevens Girl Skipping Rope cast-iron mechanical bank shown in Blair Whitton’s 1981 reference Clockwork Toys, sold for a record $156,000 against an estimate of $70,000-$100,000. Leading the many exquisite European toys in the sale, a Mohr & Krauss double Ferris wheel depicted in David Pressland’s The Art of the Tin Toy was aggressively chased to a final price of $132,000 – nearly nine times the high estimate.   As was the case in the March sessions, the September auction will include a generous lineup of cast-iron banks, including more than 100 “stills” and nearly 200 mechanicals. “Even the most advanced collectors were thrilled to have a chance to bid on the Schroeders’ banks entered in our spring sale. We know they’ll be…

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Bertoia’s to auction Paul Cole’s 50-year collection of fine American and European trains, early tin and pressed-steel toys, May 21-22

    Featured: Marklin rarities including ‘Circus Oriental’ caravan car and Newark Passenger Station; Ives trains and toys, George Brown classics, Arcade, Dent and Kenton automotive toys Circa-1908 Marklin ‘Circus Oriental’ train wagon, 8in long with exquisite detail, hand-painted shutters. Estimate $20,000-$30,000 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. Bidders may participate remotely through a variety of methods, including absentee, by phone, or live online through Bertoia Live or As his many friends in the toy-collecting world would attest, the late William Paul Cole Jr – known simply as “Paul” – was a man of great intellect and integrity. A Harvard MBA and US Army captain, Paul worked as a systems engineer for IBM in New York until his father’s unexpected passing in 1965, at which point he returned home to his native Bluefield, West Virginia. There, he took over his father’s International Harvester dealership, established an automotive parts firm and later purchased a Chevrolet and Cadillac dealership. In addition, he was Bluefield’s longest-serving mayor, holding the office from 1981 through 1993. His long list of awards and recognitions included an honorary doctorate from Northwood University and induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame. He was the first West Virginian ever to be chosen for that prestigious honor. As engaged and successful as he was in the business world, Paul always found time for family and leisure pursuits. He was a licensed pilot, a bridge life master, and an avid athlete who enjoyed jogging, golf and tennis. But of all his hobbies, none captured Paul’s imagination quite like antique toy and train collecting. “Paul started collecting Lionel trains in the early 1970s. When he discovered the York show, it opened a whole new world to him,” said Michael Bertoia, president of Bertoia Auctions. “He started attending…

  • Auction Result, Press Release
    Part I of premier Schroeder toy and bank collection rings the register at $3.1 million

    Girl Skipping Rope mechanical bank captures top-lot honors, sells for record $156K J&E Stevens (American), Girl Skipping Rope cast-iron mechanical bank. Book example depicted in Blair Whitton's 1981 reference ‘Clockwork Toys.’ Pristine to near-mint condition. The top lot of the sale, it sold for $156,000, a world auction record for the form. VINELAND, N.J. – The excitement level leading up to Bertoia’s $3.1 million sale of the Aaron and Abby Schroeder mechanical bank and toy collection was already starting to build shortly after the Christmas holidays. As early as January, antique toy enthusiasts who knew of the extraordinary collection’s reputation were calling to make appointments for private previews at Bertoia’s New Jersey gallery. Some who were especially determined to attend the sale in person staked their claims for a coveted seat at the live event, held March 5 and 6. “It was the first time we were able to open the gallery to a live audience since the pandemic began. With proper social distancing, only 17 people were allowed inside, and as we had expected, there was a waitlist for seats. We did everything we could to accommodate all bidders, with two online bidding platforms and thirteen phone lines in place,” said Michael Bertoia, president of Bertoia Auctions.   Prior to the event, Bertoia had described the quality, rarity and importance of the Schroeder collection as being “on par with those of Donald Kaufman, Max Berry, Dick Claus and the Perelman Museum.” If there were an antique toy hall of fame, those legendary collections would occupy the highest echelons, Bertoia explained. The late songwriter/music industry mogul Aaron Schroeder (1926-2009) and his wife and business partner of 49 years, Abby Steinberg Schroeder, wielded influence and garnered worldwide respect both in business and philanthropy, just as they did in the sociable world of antique toy collecting, for which they both had a great passion.  Abby was present for the entire sale, along with her Yorkshire terrier Pitou. “Saying goodbye to the collection was bittersweet for Abby, but she was genuinely delighted to greet auction guests and to see for herself how ecstatic the…

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Bertoia’s April 8-9 Annual Spring Auction introduces hybrid format offering bidders two levels of beautiful toys, banks and trains

    Marklin ‘HMS Gladiator’ clockwork battleship, 25in long, in production from 1902-1907. Wonderful proportions with exaggerated superstructure and cannons, details faithful to the real-life battleship of its day. Estimate $30,000-$50,000 VINELAND, N.J. – Bertoia Auctions will introduce an exciting new hybrid model at this year’s Annual Spring Auction, combining an April 8 opening session of high-end toys and trains with an April 9 session devoted to more-affordable items in the style of Bertoia’s popular Basics sales.  Bidders will be able to choose from more than 900 lots of outstanding mechanical banks, boxed tin toys, American trains, Marklin and other European boats and trains; holiday collectibles and more. The event will be held live at Bertoia’s gallery (limited attendance by reservation only), with all remote forms of bidding available, including absentee, by phone or live via the Internet through Bertoia Live or LiveAuctioneers. Cast-iron mechanical bank collectors will find excellent buying opportunities in this sale, including a J&E Stevens Girl Skipping Rope, one of few known that are clockwork activated. When tested, it performed 13 skips. The pre-sale estimate is $15,000-$25,000. A Jonah and the Whale bank that re-enacts the Old Testament Bible story of a man who spends three days and three nights inside the belly of a huge “fish” before being expelled is estimated at $1,000-$2,000. A J&E Stevens Horse Race bank in excellent, all-original condition is expected to make $2,000-$3,000. The auction lineup includes a fine selection of American horse-drawn toys. Certainly one of the most beautiful is an Althof Bergmann Tally-Ho. The actual book example depicted in Jeffrey Levitt’s The World of Antique Toys, this elegant, 25½-inch horse-drawn coach is believed to be the largest American tin toy ever produced. It is also possibly the only surviving example of its type. Estimate: $15,000-$25,000 An intriguing salesman’s sample of a Seagrave FDNY hook-and-ladder truck measures 56 inches long and was built in 1in to 1ft scale. The model was created in 1902 for Fire Chief Edward Croker and was exhibited in the New York Fire Department Museum until the late 1950s. It was restored in 1963 and in the…

  • Auction Result
    4 Trends in Fine Teddy Bear Collecting During Lockdown

    Enter-seam Steiff teddy bear circa 1905 brought to auction in 2020 by Bertoia Auctions. Photo from LiveAuctioneers. Just over a year ago, lockdowns began in the United States. The auction industry’s online infrastructure largely helped it combat the dearth of live events and the realities of social distancing. Still, each category has performed differently during the pandemic. As a writer for Auction Daily, I follow the antique toy category closely, with a focus on fine Teddy bears and vintage plush. Here are four key trends I've noticed about fine teddy bear collecting over the past year.  Trend #1: Fine antique Steiff Teddy bears remain the category's "gold standard."  It’s no surprise that fine examples made by the German toy company Margarete Steiff continue to own the Teddy bear category year after year. There is something timeless and appealing about vintage button-in-ear Steiff items. Those with especially charming presentations, in impressive sizes, and fine condition with IDs can trade hands in the big five-figure range.  Two of the most expensive Steiff Teddy bear auction sales of 2020 took place on November 12th through Bertoia Auctions of Vineland, NJ. The first was lot #482, a 24" tall, c. 1905 enter-seam teddy bear. Estimated at USD10,000 - $15,000, it realized $25,000. It had 21 bids and 49 watchers. The second was lot #483, a 28" tall,  c. 1905 "cone-nosed" teddy bear. Estimated at $10,000 - $15,000, and it realized $22,500. It had 19 bids and 49 watchers. Steiff “cone-nosed” teddy bear circa 1905. Brought to auction in 2020 by Bertoia Auctions. Photo from LiveAuctioneers. Although these are just a handful among many sales, they are impressive and suggest that the marketplace is strong and competitive. It also shows that collectors are able and willing to spend top dollar for premier items.  Trend #2: Many collectors are watching, and bidding on, Teddy bear rarities during online auctions. I've noticed that in this specific category, and other related ones, the stay-at-home health crisis has amplified collectors’ interest in things that bring them comfort. Unable to spend on travel, dining, or other diversions, some folks have…

  • Collector
    Collecting Vintage Halloween with Category Expert Mark Ledenbach

    Halloween invitation from the collection of Mark Ledenbach. Photo courtesy of Ledenbach. Given today’s public health realities, the ways we will celebrate Halloween in 2020 may be a little different than in past years. But one thing about this bewitching holiday that remains unchanged is the appeal and charm of vintage Halloween decorations, ephemera, noisemakers, figurines, costumes, and other scary-sweet novelties from times long gone. Auction Daily spoke with author and expert Mark Ledenbach to learn more about this category. Auction Daily: Please tell us about yourself, your personal collection, and how you champion the vintage Halloween category. Mark Ledenbach: I’ve collected vintage Halloween material since 1988. I was in a local antiques store when the proprietor– who has since become a good friend– asked if I would help her move a few boxes from her storeroom. She wanted to decorate her store’s front windows with the contents. I looked in the boxes and saw lots of old Halloween decorations. I became hooked right then and there. I spent $300 that day, a significant investment at that time! Since then, I have assembled one of the largest collections of pre-1950 vintage Halloween material. The third edition of my book, Vintage Halloween Collectibles, was published in 2014 and has become a go-to reference for collectors. The hobby has become so expensive (and perilous due to the fakes and fantasy pieces plaguing the hobby) that collectors need a reliable source of information. I have maintained a site since 2003, Halloween Collector. And every May, I conduct an auction of vintage Halloween goods directly through my site, open only to those collectors who have purchased my third edition directly from me. I typically offer about 120 lots, with each lot opening at $10. Auction Daily: Can you give us a brief overview of vintage Halloween history? What vintage Halloween art and materials fall within the vintage Halloween collecting categories? And what are you seeing folks collecting today compared to the past? Mark Ledenbach: U.S. companies began producing a large quantity of Halloween goods around 1913, excluding postcards, which largely began around 1908. The…

  • Auction Preview
    Basics Sale

    At the top of the upcoming Basics Sale catalog, offered by Bertoia Auctions, is an automaton from Frank Nelson. The artist spent his early days designing motor and aircraft models. In the early 1970s, he started to create automata in his figurative style using carved and painted wood. Introducing “The Tamer” in 1975, Nelson described it as “the best idea I have ever had.” As the automaton plays, the Tamer strikes the tiger with a whip, but the animal refuses to perform. On the third strike, the role of the human and the beast is reversed as the tiger puts its head inside the Tamer’s mouth. Besides automata, a set of deluxe motors from Tootsietoys will also be featured. Originally based in Chicago, Illinois, Tootsietoy is a manufacturer of die-cast toy cars and other vehicles. Their toys were popular between the 1930s and the 1990s. A Vielmetter clown-artist toy is available as well. The toy figure is dressed as a clown and appears to be painting on a canvas. Those interested in this or any other piece can register to bid by visiting Bertoia Auctions.