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

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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
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 1970s was returned to the Croker family. It comes to auction with a $7,000-$10,000 estimate.

European tin toys will be offered on each of the two days, as well. A 25-inch-long Marklin HMS Gladiator clockwork battleship is a strong contender for top-lot honors. The toy was produced between 1902 and 1907, and is wonderful proportioned, with an exaggerated superstructure and cannons, and details faithful to the real-life battleship of its day. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000

Another exquisite Marklin production is the large horse-drawn fire pumper formerly in the collection of Bertoia Auctions co-founder, the late Bill Bertoia. Measuring 29 inches long, it has a vertical brass boiler with nickel-plated fittings and valves, and boasts fastidious hand-painting and pinstriping. Its catalog estimate is $25,000-$45,000.

American and European trains will be well represented on both days, with highlight categories including Marklin and early American 2-inch-gauge trains. An example of the latter is a boxed Carlisle & Finch No. 34 electric locomotive measuring 16 inches long. Estimate: $6,000-$9,000. An Ives Treasure Chest display consists of an oval track with many O-gauge accessories, including a station, tunnel, telegraph poles, a large American flag and more. This set was depicted in the manufacturer’s catalog in 1930 only. Estimate $7,000-$10,000

More than 100 pressed-steel trucks will be revved up and ready to cross the auction block. Highlights include near-mint and boxed examples by Tonka and Smith-Miller as well as desirable Buddy ‘L,’ SturdiToy and Keystone productions. Another automotive highlight is a boxed 17-inch-long Domo Maserati race car, complete with carrying case, remote control, obstacle course components and ephemera. An Italian toy from the mid-20th century, its pre-sale estimate is $5,000-$7,000.

A small grouping of choice Easter and Halloween-theme candy containers and decorations will be sold in the opening session, as will an expansive array of colorful Christmas items. Amongst the top holiday lots are an Easter lichen-moss automobile with bunny chauffeur and duck passenger, $2,000-$3,000; and a well-sculpted 24-inch terracotta Santa Claus figure in a hooded, ankle-length robe, $12,000-$18,000. The April 9 session also includes a large grouping of European dolls, Steiff and other bears; felt character dolls, and automata. 

Bertoia Auctions’ president, Michael Bertoia, describes the sale as “widely varied, with a selection whose categories range from Dresden Christmas ornaments and Santa nodders to penny toys and figural cast-iron doorstops.” With its newly implemented hybrid style inviting bidder participation at several price levels, the Bertoia family predicts there will be hundreds of delighted winning bidders, including some who may be new to the joys of antique toy-collecting. “Since the pandemic began, many people have felt the need for something new and different to inspire them,” Michael said. “Toys are uplifting, they draw you into a new circle of like-minded friends, and many say they are excellent investments. Watching an auction is fun and free, so we hope that those who are curious about antique toys or trains will join us in person or online during our April 8 and 9 sale.”

Bertoia’s Thursday/Friday April 8-9, 2021 Annual Spring Auction will be held at the company’s gallery, 2141 DeMarco Dr., Vineland, NJ 08360, starting at 10 a.m. each day. Live attendance is limited and by reservation only, with masks and social distancing mandatory. In-gallery previews are permitted by appointment only. Additional forms of bidding include absentee, by phone, or live online through Bertoia Live or LiveAuctioneers. For additional information on any item in the sale, to reserve a phone line or gallery seat, or to make an appointment to preview in person, call 856-692-1881. Visit Bertoia’s website for updates and additional information. Online: www.bertoiaauctions.com