Bertoia’s welcomes 2023 holiday season with festive Nov. 17-18 Annual Fall Auction of fine antique toys, banks and figural doorstops from important collections

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Featured: Cast-iron mechanical, still and spelter banks; sensational European tinplate, nautical & automotive toys; horse-drawn toys, robots, Bob Davis’ aviation toys

VINELAND, N.J. – Antique toy collectors won’t have to wait till December for their holiday gifts to arrive. All of their Christmas wishes will come true this month at Bertoia’s festive Annual Fall Sale. The 2023 edition, slated for November 17-18, features a dizzying array of exquisite European and American toys, as well as mechanical, still and spelter banks from premier collections. 

Early German airplane with two figures, 11in wingspan. Excellent condition for age. Provenance: Bob Davis aviation toy collection. Estimate: $2,500-$4,500
Early German airplane with two figures, 11in wingspan. Excellent condition for age. Provenance: Bob Davis aviation toy collection. Estimate: $2,500-$4,500

European toys will take their turn in the spotlight, with all forms of transportation ready to roll – on land, sea or in the air. A large grouping of early German boats includes a fabulous Marklin paddle wheeler, a near-mint Marklin battleship, an enormous Radiguet gunboat, and several other awe-inspiring vessels. Grand automobiles, including limousines by Marklin, Carette and Gunthermann, will line up alongside race cars by Distler and Tippco. A great-looking 1895 Bing fire engine adds even more charm to the blue-chip Continental fleet.

A luxe assortment of lithographed tinplate toys includes a dozen motorcycles from KiCo, M&K (Muller & Kadeder) and Fischer, as well as boxed Lehmann ’cycles. Other Lehmann toy highlights are led by a coveted Primus roller-skater, a Berolina auto, and Ampol Artic explorer. The latter two toys are accompanied by their very rare original boxes. Other tinplate toys include comic character-themed figures, a Vielmetter Clown Artist with 6 cams, a boxed Distler Porter, and a Fleischmann Deep Sea Diver. An abundance of penny toys will be on hand to tempt the many collectors who never tire of the diminutive tin whimseys that were sold on European street corners well over a century ago.

A select grouping of Japanese robots and other toys will roll across the auction block, including a stellar ASC Tremendous Mike with its crisp original box, a sought-after Nomura Walking Batman, and a boxed Bandai Atom/Astro Boy. Among the Japanese automotive toys to be auctioned are several race cars, with a fresh-to-the-market near-mint and boxed Yonezawa Atom race car adding retro style to the fleet.

The approximately 150 still and mechanical banks to be sold are anchored by the collection of the late Heath Hurlbert, who was an active member of the MBCA. The Hurlbert mechanicals include a superb example of a Shepard Hardware Mason bank, a white Owl Turns Head, a Circus bank, Hoopla bank, Ives Snapping Bulldog, and many others. A small but very choice grouping of still banks features a Two-Faced Indian and wonderful painted Songbird – both by A.C. Williams – and a variety of painted building banks.

Antique bank enthusiasts won’t want to miss the chance to bid on Part I of the Jim and Genia Willett collection of colorful German spelter still banks. The Willetts spent decades amassing their whimsical, ornately detailed banks, which rate very highly for condition.

Californian Bob Davis’ collection of airplanes and aeronautical toys includes dozens of lithographed and hand-painted tinplate rarities, from primitive Ernst Plank pusher planes to Gordon Bennett-inspired Gunthermann productions. As one would expect of a collection as advanced as this one, there are also numerous examples of aviation ephemera, posters, prints and other “go-alongs.” Bertoia Auctions’ president, Michael Bertoia, added that Mr Davis is generously donating 50% of the net proceeds from the sale of his collection, in equal shares, to the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

Collectors of early cast iron can take their pick from prized items across several categories, including mechanical and still banks, doorstops, horse-drawn toys, and vehicles. Automotive highlights include a nice Hubley Packard Straight-8, several Arcade autos, a rare Vindex Rapid Delivery truck, motorcycles, utility trucks and more. 

High-stepping horse-drawn toys are ready to march and entertain, starting with a large white Bandwagon and other examples from the Hubley Circus series. An ultra-rare Hubley Firehouse will be offered – only the second of its type ever to appear in the marketplace – as well as a Pratt & Letchworth Burning Building and an Ives Firehouse.

Figural cast-iron doorstops are expected to attract a diverse audience, given the variety of themes and consistently pristine condition seen throughout the selection. Notably, the grouping includes a few remaining holdouts from Jeanne Bertoia’s decades-old collection, including a Hubley Giraffe, Rhumba Dancer, and Spanish Guitar Player. Also highly rated are a Bradley & Hubbard Standing Rabbit and Monticello House. 

Those who love pressed steel toys and pedal cars will be treated to airplane pedal cars from the Bob Davis collection as well as several automotive cars, large trucks, a Keystone Packard Coast-to-Coast Bus, and a Sturditoy Fire Pumper No 7. Additionally, there is a virtual motor pool of boxed Smith-Miller trucks, some of which retain their original packaging and have never been opened.

The Philadelphia toymaker Schoenhut leads the wooden toy category with favorites that include an Abbott’s Milk Wagon, Alderney Dairy Wagon, and Hood’s Dairy Wagon. Circus and Teddy Roosevelt Safari figures will be sold alongside several large Schoenhut tents. Among the other early wooden toys are an incredible Fire Brigade Ladder Wagon, several sets of 9-pin skittles, and antique Erzgebirge (Germany) figures.

But that’s not all. Bertoia’s was delighted to make room in the November sale for top-quality country store and advertising items from the Ray Burgess collection, including a beautiful Hires Root Beer embossed tin sign and a Cherry Smash soda fountain dispenser.  

There’s one important difference to note with this year lineup. Ordinarily, Bertoia’s dedicates a sizable portion, if not an entire day, of its fall sale to Christmas, Halloween and other holiday antiques. However, the exceptional quality and quantity of toys and holiday items consigned to this year’s event made it a rather easy decision for Bertoia’s to announce a separate sale devoted entirely to holiday material. Accordingly, Bertoia’s will host an exciting “Holiday Exclusive” live auction of Christmas, Halloween and holiday antiques at their gallery on Friday, December 1, with all of the usual forms of remote and Internet live bidding available.

The Bertoia family looks forwarding to greeting guests to their Annual Fall Auction on November 17-18, starting at 10 a.m. ET each day. Bertoia’s gallery is located at 2141 DeMarco Drive, Vineland, NJ 08360. Live attendance is limited and by reservation only. Preview the week before the auction or by appointment only. Bid absentee, by phone, or live online through Bertoia Live or LiveAuctioneers. For additional information or to reserve a telephone line for bidding or a gallery seat at the auction, or to make a private-preview appointment, call 856-692-1881 or email [email protected]. Watch for details about Bertoia’s December 1st Holiday Exclusive sale online at

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