Take a dip into dozens of top-tier toy & bank collections at Bertoia’s April 19-20 auction

Published on

Featured: Cast-iron & spelter banks, American and European tin toys and trains; horse-drawn, pressed steel, comic character, aeronautical and space toys; Schoenhuts, toy soldiers, penny toys, cap guns

Rare, early J & E Stevens (American) cast-iron ‘National Bank’ mechanical bank. Retains original interior cardboard figure (not visible in this photo). Provenance: FW Weider to Bill Norman to Stan Sax collections. Estimate: $7,000-$10,000
Rare, early J & E Stevens (American) cast-iron ‘National Bank’ mechanical bank. Retains original interior cardboard figure (not visible in this photo). Provenance: FW Weider to Bill Norman to Stan Sax collections. Estimate: $7,000-$10,000

VINELAND, N.J. – One of the most enjoyable aspects of the toy hobby is visiting and discovering the hidden treasures in friends’ collections. The only downside is that you’re likely to see a toy you’d love to own but can’t, because it’s not for sale. And that’s the premise that underscores Bertoia’s Annual Spring Auction – sourcing and curating a wonderfully varied selection of high-quality pieces from collectors throughout the United States and beyond. This year’s Spring Auction, comprising approximately 1,200 wide-ranging lots, will take place April 19-20 at Bertoia’s New Jersey gallery, with all forms of remote bidding available, including live via the Internet.

The sale list includes a heady selection of spelter and cast-iron mechanical banks, cast-iron automotive and horse-drawn toys, animated cap guns; pressed-steel and tether cars, European automotive and wind-up toys, American, European and floor trains; plus aviation toys of every imaginable type. Additionally, there are tinplate comic character toys, Japanese robots and space toys, soldiers and European figures; and a small but choice array of holiday antiques. 

Even seasoned collectors of spelter banks were amazed at what was available to them in Part 1 of the Jim and Genia Willett collection (Bertoia’s, Nov. 17-18, 2023). The couple had spent decades amassing their whimsical, ornately detailed banks, all of which rated very highly for condition. Now Bertoia’s will unveil Part 2 of the Willetts’ holdings. In the April sale, expect to see whimsical animal figures, buildings and people as the banks’ subjects, all on par with the high grades seen in Part 1.

The outstanding array of cast-iron mechanical banks is highlighted by a rare National bank, an ever-popular Trick Dog bank, patented by Hubley in 1888; a Hoopla bank, and a football-themed J&E Stevens Calamity bank.

Cast-iron toys will be in plentiful supply and are led by the Double Ripper sled bell toy that was formerly in the Max Berry collection, a very rare Musical Miners bell toy with its very rare original box, and a classic Ives Mechanical Walking Horse toy, also with its factory box. Other highlights include cast-iron racing-scull floor toys in multiple sizes by several different makers. Cast-iron automotive toys are led by a fabulous Arcade shovel-nose gasoline truck, an ultra-rare Arcade Brinks truck, and a Vindex PDQ cycle. In the firefighting section, there’s a coveted, near-mint Hubley Ahrens Fox pumper plus several early transitional fire toys, also manufactured by Hubley of Lancaster, Pa.

The horse-drawn cast iron category is a perennial favorite with Bertoia’s bidders. The April 19-20 offering includes some handsome entries, such as oversize Ives wagons, a Pratt & Letchworth Boy Express wagon, a Kyser & Rex circus wagon and a Kenton Uncle Sam chariot. With crossover interest to militaria collectors, there’s a scarce 2nd Regiment Ambulance wagon.

Cast-iron floor trains include multiple book examples from the legendary Rick Ralston collection. They will be offered alongside several original brass patterns. Other types of American and European trains, buildings and accessories will cross the auction block, with Continental highlights that include an example of the largest train station manufactured by Carette. Within the fantastic lineup of German Marklin productions are an eye-catching Pabst car, rare pre-war HO trains and accessories, and 1930s 0-gauge trains. An excellent thin-rim Lionel #5 engine and several boxed standard-gauge sets by Lionel and Ives await those who collect classic American trains.

Small but powerful, animated cast-iron cap guns are favored by many because of their novel appearance and the big impression they can make when displayed in even the tiniest of spaces. The auction will feature Shoot the Hat and Two Monkeys pistols, as well as a circa-1881 Ives Devil’s Head cap bomb, which is a three-dimensional representation with horns, well-defined features and a fearsome expression.

A nice assortment of pressed-steel trucks in exceptional condition includes both Buddy ‘L’ favorites and boxed Smith-Millers that are new/old store stock. In addition, the sale also features more than a dozen gas tether cars, including original and professionally restored examples in a variety of sizes and styles.

European automotive toys encompass several subcategories, including German wind-up cars, some of them hand-painted; while German and French windups range from Lehmann and Fernand Martin toys to finely detailed carrousels and Ferris wheels. There are whimsical Gunthermann and Issmayer toys depicting both animals and human figures, and fanciful penny toys of all types. A highlight is a Meier Santa Claus, a Christmas crossover piece that every penny toy collector yearns to own.

Collectors of aeronautical toys may choose from the latest offering from the renowned Bob Davis collection. Early hand-painted German airplanes, Wright Brothers-style bi-wing planes, and go-arounds with an aviation theme will be up for bid in the April auction. Bob has very generously chosen to donate 50% of the net proceeds from the sale of his toys, in equal shares, to the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC, and the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

Comic character toys, with their distinctive colors and ingenuity, form a sizable portion of the sale. Expect to see the usual gang of popular cartoon and TV stars, like Popeye, Mickey Mouse and Howdy Doody. Many of the toys are accompanied by their original boxes. 

Boxed Japanese tin automobiles, rockets and spaceships will cross the auction block, as will a rowdy Masudaya Siren Robot, which many space toy fans would be thrilled to add to their collections.  

Distinctive Schoenhut (Philadelphia) wooden toys include four horse-drawn wagons, assorted circus tents, and a slew of animal and people figures. Also depicting life in a smaller scale are toy soldiers and other figures from the collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Oscar Hijuelos. 

Bertoia’s is synonymous with premium-quality holiday antiques. Their April sale will tempt holiday collectors with fine Christmas pieces such as a magnificent Santa Claus at the reins of a sleigh drawn by a large bell-adorned nodding caribou reindeer, and many fine belsnickels and nodders. A massive rabbit candy container store display tops the Easter lots, while Halloween goodies include Halloween witch nodders, lanterns and much more. 

The Bertoia family looks forwarding to greeting guests to their Annual Spring Auction on April 19-20, 2024, starting each day at 10 a.m. ET. 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 on any item in the sale, to reserve a telephone line for bidding, or to make a private-preview appointment, call 856-692-1881 or email [email protected]. Watch for additional details about Bertoia’s April 19-20, 2024 Annual Spring Auction online at www.bertoiaauctions.com.

Media Source

More in the auction industry