Published: May 3, 2022
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Bertoia
VINELAND, N.J. – On April 21, Bertoia presented the third portion of the Paul Cole collection, one of West Virginia’s greatest toy collectors, in a final offering of his massive train collection with American and European examples sold. [See Antiques and The Arts Weekly, May 28, 2021, and October 22, 2021, for Parts I and II]. Steaming to the head of the pack was an Althof Bergmann Monitor boat pull toy, which sold for $6,600. Restored and aged, the venerable vessel featured action causing the central gun turret to rotate as the boat rolls. Also included in the sale were penny, European tin windups, cast iron automotive toys and horse-drawn toys, bell toys and early American tin examples, some light pressed steel and more.
Cole, described as a man with an inquisitive mind, was both an active member and president of the Antique Toy Collectors of America club and a proponent for the field in general. Cole received his MBA from Harvard before becoming a captain in the US Army. He worked as a systems engineer for IBM until his father passed away, at which point he moved back to his hometown of Bluefield, W.Va., to take over the family’s International Harvester dealership. Mechanically inclined, Cole established an automotive parts firm and later owned a Chevrolet and Cadillac dealership. A social personality, Cole was thus described by the Bertoias: “If you had the good fortune of knowing Paul Cole… you knew you had made a new friend and that you were welcome in his circle.” Much of his hometown of Bluefield was in that circle and Cole served as the town’s mayor from 1981 to 1993.
Though Cole began in the 1970s collecting American and Lionel trains, by the 1990s he found what would become his passion: European trains. From Maerklin and other premier makers, Cole’s collection grew to be one of the finest in America.
A boxed Arcade 1941 International stake truck that originally sold at auction from the collection of Bob Brady found fans. Estimated $1,2/2,400, the striking condition of the 11½-inch-long toy pulled it along to a final price of $5,400.
Before Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, there were, well, goats. An Althof Bergmann Santa in Goat Sleigh sold for $3,900. It’s a very sought-after toy of this period, the catalog explained, for when the clockwork toy is wound, the wheels are set in motion and the goats move up and down, giving the impression that they are pulling the sleigh. Only a handful of these toys are known to exist and a couple of examples have sold in the six-figure range.
Antique toy trains were ascendant in this sale. A Lionel standard gauge Blue Comet set pulled by 19-inch-long locomotive brought $3,600, while, also in standard gauge, a restored Carlisle & Finch Mining train set with 7-inch-long loco chugged past its $500-$1,000 to earn $3,300. And, with loco wheels replaced and some touch-ups, a Lionel armored train left its $500-$1,000 expectation in the dust to secure $3,300.
The same price was achieved for a boxed Welker Crosby floor train, a nice example of early Welker Crosby cast iron locomotives, with two Watson Iron Works gondolas and original box with a WIW decal on the end.
Two Hull & Stafford train coaches were described as in “fabulous condition,” with all original hand painted tin in attractive soft colors with detailed stenciling. They were bid to $2,280.
Fetching $1,920 was a standard gauge Lionel 400e loco, 19 inches long, and tender, and going out at $1,800 was an Ives clockwork train set featuring hand painted tin and a lion decal at the side of the tender.
Other modes of antique toy transportation included a Bing horseless carriage auto with figures, a large example and striking form, with working windup to power its rear wheels. It more than doubled its high estimate to find a buyer at $3,300.
Often attributed to Gong Bell, a cast iron example from the 1776 to 1876 Centennial, a Centennial Bell cast iron toy also doubled its high estimate to bring $3,000, while an Ives clockwork Atalanta yacht, one of only a few known examples of this early tin boat, docked at $2,280.
And the dogs had their day as a Gunthermann toy of clowns and performing circus dogs finished at $1,680. The toy featured nice wind-up action of clowns spinning while dogs seemingly go up and down ladder as a plink-plank sound emits from base.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.bertoiaauctions.com or 856-692-1881.
September 27, 2022
September 27, 2022
September 27, 2022
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