Bertoia’s May 7-8 auction features Atlantique City promoter’s estate collection of European antique toys

Art Daily
Published on
Circa 1929 Vindex Oldsmobile coach, salesman’s sample, 6in long. Provenance: Dmitri Ilyinsky collection, Donald Kaufman collection. Estimate $3,500-$5,500.
Circa 1929 Vindex Oldsmobile coach, salesman’s sample, 6in long. Provenance: Dmitri Ilyinsky collection, Donald Kaufman collection. Estimate $3,500-$5,500.

VINELAND, NJ.- Toy and bank collections of exceptional quality and distinguished provenance will cross the auction block at Bertoia’s on May 7-8. The Thursday/Friday sessions are bumper to bumper with high-end automotive, comic character, European tin and early American toys, as well as trains and trolleys; rare banks, and Christmas antiques.

“This year we decided to have just one big spring sale so we could concentrate on very rare examples in top condition to appeal to a worldwide audience,” said Michael Bertoia, president of Bertoia Auctions. “With the support of our Basics auction series, which has a very active and dedicated following, we’re positioned to handle the same amount of quality consignments without a delay in bringing them to the marketplace.”

A substantial grouping of high-end mechanical banks is led by Part I of the Robert Weiss collection. Among the Weiss collection’s most notable examples are an extremely rare Kilgore Turtle mechanical bank (one of approximately nine known), a circa-1880 Kyser & Rex chiming Merry-Go-Round, and a circa-1878 J&E Stevens Patronize the Blind Man bank. The other featured mechanical bank collection – that of Bill and Wendy Jones – contains such coveted rarities as a circa-1880 Red Riding Hood, a circa-1886 J&E Stevens Bread Winners bank, and an ultra-rare 1878 Rival bank that was formerly part of the Perelman Antique Toy Museum’s collection.

“Between the Weiss and Jones collections, there’s quite a formidable body of collective provenance that includes the Leon Perelman, Bill Norman, and Ed Mosler collections. In mechanical bank collecting, those are important, highly honored names,” Michael said.

Rounding out the cast iron are desktop accessories, match safes, string-holders and doorstops, led by a “Princeton” Football Player and extremely scarce Littco Halloween Girl (Jones collection). Bridging the gap between doorstops and toys is a Yankee Schoolmaster Alphabet Man (ex Barenholtz collection), one of perhaps six known.

When it comes to cast-iron toys, Bertoia’s has rolled out the best of the best at their past events, and in terms of condition, Michael believes the May 7-8 selection is as fine as anything they have ever handled. “Many pieces come from the Dimitri (“Tim”) Ilyinsky collection. Even in his earliest days of collecting, Tim never settled for less than top condition and color – it’s very obvious when viewing his toys. I would say that we’ve probably used the description ‘near mint’ more times in cataloging his collection than with any other we’ve sold.” Over the years, Ilyinsky has acquired numerous toys with provenance from Donald Kaufman, Dick Ford and Bob Brady. His prized collection includes airplanes, motorcycles, salesman’s sample Vindex autos, an old-store-stock boxed Buick Coupe, and a deluxe Arcade Andy Gump car. Rounding out the cast-iron category are horse-drawn transportation vehicles, a premium-grade Hubley Santa Claus reindeer sleigh, and an extremely rare factory-painted example of a Shimer Manufacturing Fire Patrol Wagon.

An impressive parade of pressed-steel trucks consists of favorites by Sturditoy, Buddy ‘L,’ Keystone and American National, plus several pedal cars, including a very attractive Buick. The lineup of American toys continues with the final offering of toys from the Frank Mohr collection, led by a complete set of Jerome Secor figures, numerous velocipede and bicycle toys; platform toys and other cast-iron wind-ups. Additional highlights include an Althof Bergmann Santa Claus sleigh and Ives rocking horse toy.

A star attraction of the sale is the European tin toy collection of Atlantique City promoter the late Norman Schaut. “While Norm’s primary focus and love was European tin trolleys, he also collected automotive and nautical toys,” Michael said. Premier holdings include an all-original, live-steam Bing Spyder, a Marklin live-steam ocean liner Amerika, and several paddlewheelers – three made by Rock & Graner and two by Bing.

Norm Schaut had a great appreciation for early trains and trolleys, so in some cases he acquired multiple examples. He owned four circa-1901 Lionel gondolas in the extremely rare 2 7/8-inch gauge, a City Hall Park tram and trolley in the same gauge, several trolleys by Carlisle & Finch, and a Knapp trolley (ex Ward Kimball collection).

Marklin 0-gauge trains and boxed Ernst Plank trains and trolleys also held pride of place in the Shaut collection – in particular, a stunning Plank 8-wheel trolley, a very rare boxed Ives No. 800 trolley and one of very few known examples of a boxed Lionel Mickey Mouse Circus Train set with tent, all accessories and unpunched original cardboard parts.

From other fine collections, there are several Marklin train stations, early German hand-painted stations, an Ives No. 116 Grand Central Station, a rare Marklin ticket dispenser made for the American market; 75+ penny toys, dozens of Lehmann and French Martin wind-ups (many boxes), and an array of comic character classics.

From the Frank Mohr collection, Bertoia’s will showcase approximately 25 automata and related toys in a range of sizes, shapes and themes, e.g., magician, well-dressed ladies dancing or smelling flowers, etc. Of special note in this grouping is a 19th-century stilt walker attributed to Gustav Vichy, with its original box.

Bertoia’s is the home of Christmas antiques, and for their May 7-8 sale the fantastic Karyl Newman collection will take center stage. The comprehensive collection includes board games, die-cuts, paper-on-wood rarities, glass-bearded belsnickles, candy containers, a wind-up nodding reindeer, and a Santa trade stimulator. There are several Santa figures riding atop nodding donkeys or polar bears, and a number of animated paper store-window displays.

An exciting late addition to the auction is the Charles Foster Museum Collection of Schoenhut Toys. A traveling salesman who shopped at antique stores, toy shows and auctions from coast to coast, Foster’s extensive collection grew to the point that he later purchased a building in downtown Prior Lake, Minnesota, for the display of his finds in a wonderful museum setting. The auction includes numerous rarities, among them a fabulous Bandwagon, Chariot, and the elusive Teddy Roosevelt set.