Bertoia’s May 18 Signature Auction reserved exclusively for John and Adrianne Haley’s private collection of antique toys and banks

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For 50+ years, the respected Yorkshire couple has been known to American toy collectors as the foremost source for European rarities

VINELAND, N.J. – On May 18, Bertoia’s will auction the antique toy and bank collection of John and Adrienne Haley. Within the toy hobby, the Haley name is both immediately recognizable and respected by US buyers who, for decades, relied on the Yorkshire couple as their go-between in sourcing rare, high-quality European toys. Thanks to the Haleys’ 50+ years of networking efforts around Britain and on the Continent, untold numbers of German, French and British antique toys and banks have made their way across the Atlantic to become prized holdings in high-profile collections. Now it is John and Adrianne’s turn to share their own private collection with the world in a 340-lot auction whose collective quality and condition will dazzle even the most advanced toy enthusiasts.

Marklin (Germany) Fire House with three hand-painted clockwork fire engines. Highly detailed. When activated, levers on side of building release trucks so they can speed away to an emergency call. Book example featured on Page 155 of David Pressland’s ‘Great Book of Tin Toys.’ Excellent condition. One of very few known. Estimate: $80,000-$120,000
Marklin (Germany) Fire House with three hand-painted clockwork fire engines. Highly detailed. When activated, levers on side of building release trucks so they can speed away to an emergency call. Book example featured on Page 155 of David Pressland’s ‘Great Book of Tin Toys.’ Excellent condition. One of very few known. Estimate: $80,000-$120,000

The Haleys’ mechanical banks are mainly of cast iron and, over the years, were upgraded whenever the opportunity arose to do so. Some of the top mechanicals include the Germania Exchange (estimate $40,000-$60,000), Jonah on the Pedestal ($80,000-$120,000), and a Starkie cast-iron Robot bank ($10,000-$15,000). It is the only one known in cast iron; others of its type were made of aluminum. Other favorites include a Roller Skating bank $25,000-$45,000), Bow-ery bank ($20,000-$40,000), John Bull’s Money Box ($25,000-$40,000), Mikado ($60,000-$90,000), Chinaman in a Boat ($40,000-$70,000), and a fantastic Shepard Hardware Uncle Sam ($20,000-$30,000). The latter, a book example, is likely the finest of its type known to exist. A John Harper Hoopla bank, whose action involves a small dog jumping through a hoop held up by a clown, is scarcer than US variations, which are known as “Trick Dog.” In near-mint condition, it is estimated at $7,000-$10,000. 

A John Harper (English) “Tommy” mechanical bank ($8,000-$12,000), made circa 1914, is a book example and believed to be the best of all that have survived. It depicts a World War I British soldier – known as a “Tommy” – in a prone position, shooting at a tree. Its design was inspired by the Creedmore bank made by the American company Stevens and has a similar action. “The Creedmore inspired a few other John Harper banks that are represented in the collection, the Volunteer and Grenadier. It was not uncommon for English companies to copy the action of American banks,” John Haley noted.

“A composition mechanical bank that is very rare, and which was made in Germany for the UK market, is designed as a post box with a suffragette theme,” Haley noted. “When a penny is inserted, the figure of a suffragette pops up. It’s dated ‘Xmas 1913’ and also says ‘Militant souvenier (sic.)’ and ‘Votes for Women’ (imprinted on the flag held by the figure).” The pre-sale estimate is $3,000-$5,000. 

John Haley’s favorite tin bank is known as “The World’s Banker” and was made sometime between 1910-1930 by an unknown German manufacturer. It depicts John Bull on a platform emblazoned with the Union Jack and topped by a globe that spins when a coin is dropped into the figure’s belly. A book example in pristine condition, it is estimated at $5,000-$7,500. 

Many of the transportation toys are in astonishingly fine condition, especially the German tin luxury autos. There are many pre-1920 pieces by Bing, Carette, Marklin and Gunthermann, as well as early double-decker tin buses with advertising on their sides. The piece de resistance in the motoring section is a highly-detailed Marklin (Germany) Fire House with three hand-painted clockwork fire engines. This complete set, distinguished by its all-important third fire truck, appears in David Pressland’s Great Book of Tin Toys. Presenting in excellent condition, it is expected to attract a winning bid of $80,000-$120,000. Also featured in the same Pressland book, a Marklin clockwork four-seat tourer, hand-painted with a figure of a chauffeur wearing driving goggles, could cruise to a $30,000-$50,000 finish on auction day.

Early European clockwork boats always held pride of place in the Haley collection. As John explained, “I always went for quality and insisted on unrestored examples. The finest and probably rarest Marklin boats in the collection have their original wooden boxes, including the ‘Battleship France’ ($60,000-$90,000) and the ‘Battleship HMS Terrible’ ($50,000-$75,000) – that’s a beautiful boat. There are also some fine examples of Bing boats, including a rare paddlewheeler.” Also, a boxed Marklin yacht Jolanda is entered with a $20,000-$30,000 estimate.

Non-automotive offerings are predominantly European tin, in particular German tinplate, with the addition of a few German horse-drawn pieces. A circa 1880-1890 Buchner horse-drawn phaeton, a substantial 20 inches long, retains its original composition figures and carved wooden horses. In excellent condition, this elegant toy will cross the auction block with a $5,000-$7,500 estimate.

The small but choice selection of trains is highlighted by early German Marklin and Bing productions. A Marklin hand-painted gauge 3 GNR passenger car, coveted for its impressive 17½-inch length, boasts excellent condition and estimated at $8,000-$12,000. A wonderfully primitive German floor train, made circa 1860s, is hand-painted, un-powered and approximately gauge O in size. John Haley surmises that it may have been made by Rock & Graner of Wurttemberg or Buchner of Nuremberg. In excellent condition, it could sell in the vicinity of $6,000-$8,000. 

Bertoia’s May 18, 2024 auction of the John and Adrianne Haley private collection of antique toys and banks will start at 10am US Eastern Time. Bertoia’s gallery is located at 2141 DeMarco Drive, Vineland, NJ 08360. Preview the week before the auction or at other times by appointment only. Bid absentee, by phone, or live online through Bertoia Live or LiveAuctioneers. For additional information, to reserve a telephone line for bidding, or to make a private-preview appointment, call 856-692-1881 or email [email protected]. View additional details about Bertoia’s May 18 sale online at

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