Published: December 16, 2015
Review By R. Scudder Smith
Photos Courtesy Bertoia Auctions
VINELAND, N.J. — Twenty days after Bertoia Auctions hammered down the last piece of its 2,114-lot, three-day auction, November 13–15, Jeanne Bertoia said, “We are still mailing out objects to people who were successful bidders on the Internet, phone and absentee, but we will have it all done by Christmas.” She noted that mailing out a single item, such as a doorstop, is “a piece of cake, but a train set with tracks, five or more cars, etc, takes time and we carefully pack Christmas ornaments to avoid any breakage.”
She added, “Here at Bertoia Auctions we have noticed that great toys always have a way of causing excitement in people of any age. With such a great offering of toy diversity, we anticipated an exciting November sale, and not only did we sell out of catalogs, we had over 2,800 active Internet bidders, nearly 500 absentee and telephone bidders and an active crowd of attendees each day.”
The sale, with the buyer’s premium, grossed $1,867,822, with Friday’s session bringing $809,510 for European tin toys, penny toys and trains, followed by Saturday’s session at $681,952 for cast iron toys, banks, doorstops and automotive, as well as comic character and horse-drawn toys, pedal cars and pressed steel. On Sunday, $376,361 was spent for dolls, bears, toys, games, candy containers and holiday-related objects. Friday’s auction was reviewed in the December 18 issue of Antiques and The Arts Weekly. All prices quoted in this review include the buyer’s premium.
An early Kenton touring car kicked off Saturday’s part of the auction, cast iron and painted red overall, 7¾ inches long, that sold for $295, the low estimate. It was followed several lots later by a Kenton “Fairfield” ditcher, circa 1930, cast iron, painted red and green, made for only one year, that brought $1,298, just over the high estimate.
An Airmail airplane, Kenton, cast iron, painted blue overall, wings embossed “Airmail,” sold over the $800 estimate for $1,062, Popeye on motorcycle by Hubley in excellent condition brought $3,245, and a Kenton large Los Angeles Dirigible, cast iron and painted red overall, 11½ inches long, went over the $600 high estimate, selling for $1,652.
Among the doorstops offered was a B&H Rabbit, “800” marked on back, seated on legs, pristine condition, that went for $1,534, just under estimate, and a Dent hose carriage, cast iron, two galloping horses, original rope surrounding hose reel, seated driver, spoke wheels rimmed in silver, that went over estimate, selling for $4,720. The next lot, 854, an oversized Ives dog cart, circa 1893, features a large walking horse that appears to trot along as the toy is being pulled; 18 inches long and in pristine condition, it went for $7,670.
Lot 884, a Wallwork “Ribble” bus, England, cast iron with maroon painted body with white roof, lettered on side, exceeded the $2,000 high estimate, selling for $3,540. Realizing $6,490, over the $6,000 high estimate, was a Hubley Hill Climber motorcycle, circa 1930, cast iron and painted orange overall, classic racer figure painted in black, 8½ inches long, and nickel spoke wheels with rubber tires. Popular among another grouping of doorstops was a Bird of Paradise in full color, 133/8 inches high, pristine condition, that sold over estimate at $2,242.
A Gong Bell Young American bell toy, No. 12, early cast iron example, ornate red platform, large spoke wheels, 6 inches long, sold very well, achieving $3,540 — just under six times the high estimate — and a George Brown Confectionary Wagon, hand painted tin with cast iron wheels, drawn by two white horses, 14 inches long, sold for $1,888, over the $1,500 high estimate. And going for $6,490, just over the high estimate, was Girl Skipping Rope toy, attributed to Automatic Toy Works, late 1890s, 5¾ inches high, and reportedly there are only two known examples.
Included in the lots of both still and mechanical banks were lot 1127, Queen Victoria mechanical bank, porcelain over cast iron, maker unknown, circa 1897, near mint condition, that went for $4,425, over the $3,000 high estimate; and lot 1152, Indian Shooting Bear mechanical bank, J&E Stevens, Cromwell, Conn., designed by Charles A. Bailey, circa 1900, original feathers and bright paint, pristine, for $4,720, above the high estimate of $4,000.
A Mac Motorcycle with box, Arnold, Germany, lithographed tin, red and gray cycle version, 8 inches long, pristine condition, went over the $750 high estimate, making $1,770, while a Charlie McCarthy-Mortimer Snerd private car, Marx Toys, clockwork driven, 16 inches long, very good condition, fell short of the low estimate, bringing $1,121. A Metalcraft “Red Bird” delivery truck, pressed steel, enclosed van body, 13 inches long, sold for $2,360, better than twice the high estimate, while a Metalcraft prototype yellow painted dump body, cab stripped of paint, designed by Al Korte, chief designer during the 1930s at Metalcraft, fair condition, sold for just over eight times the high estimate, achieving $4,130.
One of the popular pedal cars was the Amos & Andy Fresh Air Taxi, contemporary example, limited production, fashioned after Marx’s famed toy auto with the same colors and horseshoe ornament, 51 inches long and like-new condition. It is from the Bill Bertoia Collection as displayed in his house for nearly 20 years and sold for $7,080, better than twice the high estimate.
Sunday’s sale started at 10 am with a lot of miniature Boulle furnishings, including a bed, armoire, secretary, floor lamp and washstand, probably German, very good condition, for $561, within estimate, and a classic Jumeau Bebe doll, circa 1890s, brown paperweight eyes and pierced ears, closed mouth, wearing a mohair wig, brought $1,416, also within estimate.
One of the boy dolls in the auction, lot 1735, was an all-original Greiner doll, unmarked papier mache shoulder head with molded and painted features, soft “wind blown” hair, cloth body with separately sewn fingers, wearing a black wool tuxedo and heavily starched shirt. His attire is typical of the 1850s era, he measures 28 inches tall, and sold over estimate for $1,652. Two lots later, a rare American papier mache doll, seldom-found shoulder head with molded and painted features, circa 1860, bearing printed label on back shoulder reading “Lerch, Manufacturers,” antique cloth body with leather forearms with individual fingers, 11 inches tall, sold just over estimate for $1,652.
A good number of lots featured bears, including 1802, three teddy bears — one beige, one blond with shoe button eyes and a smaller golden bear with shoe button eyes and a squeaker in his belly. They range from 10 to 20 inches high and sold for $1,298, over the $900 high estimate. An early Steiff teddy bear, beige but probably originally white, with shoe button-style eyes, button in the ear with remnants of a white tag, 12 inches high, brought $1,416, over the $800 high estimate, and an early gold Steiff bear with button in the ear, original pads, long arms and big back hump, 18 inches tall with a few repairs, sold just over twice the high estimate at $3,835.
Lot 1873, a Schoenhut Teddy Roosevelt safari figure, all wooden jointed figure with hand painted two-part head, wears the original leather belt holding gun, dagger and case, 8¼ inches high, went slightly over the high estimate, selling for $1,534. The Minstrel Show by Courier Lithograph Company, Buffalo, N.Y., late 1890s, with paper litho over wood exterior, features a mechanically driven minstrel strumming his banjo, 8 by 10½ inches. It sold over estimate at $1,062. A Noah’s Ark with animals and figures, hand painted barge, bird pattern on roof, more than 100 figures, 20½ inches long, went for $1,888, just under the high estimate. The ark was accompanied by a handwritten note from the child’s aunt when given this toy, and dated 1894.
A German chalk head sheep pull toy, woolly fur covered, applied eyes, cloth collar with brass bell, which speaks when the head is pressed down, and mounted on wheeled wooden platform, went over estimate at $1,062. And selling for three times the high estimate at $1,416 was The Game of the Automobile Race, McLoughlin Brothers, featuring Santa Claus in an open automobile and an Art Deco border around the box. Selling within estimate at $1,003 was an 18-inch-long Santa and Reindeer Sleigh, R. Bliss, circa 1890, paper on wood toy with movable Santa figure seated in a colorful sleigh drawn by two reindeer.
A mixed grouping of Christmas tree ornaments included three Geisha girls, all with crepe paper clothes on spun cotton bodies, depicted as red dressed candy containers, together with a German spun cotton bisque head boy in red paper cloak, that brought $1,180, over estimate. A whimsical German Dresden coach, well detailed in silver, drawn by spirited brown horse and driven by a dark skin cherub, went over the $700 high estimate, selling for $1,652, and a tall Santa candy container, red robe with white felt trim, composition face with blue eyes, 15 inches tall, brought $708, right at the high estimate.
A large stuffed velvet pumpkin head man, a Victorian Halloween table centerpiece, vegetable man with pumpkin head, dressed in black and orange suit, 20 inches tall, sold for $2,950, just about ten times the high estimate, and an early German witch mask, pressed composition with the original paper inserts and bail handle, went for $3,540.
A Santa dressed in white robe candy container, Germany, cardboard tube body with heavy composition boots on a snow-covered platform, 24 inches high, exceeded the $3,500 high estimate, selling for $4,425. A German reindeer candy container with Santa aboard, all of the original leather tack, pristine condition, 12½ inches high, went over estimate with a $3,540 final bid.
A small wood cutter Santa, Germany, well detailed in red coat with white furlike trim, deep blue eyes, 7 inches high, went for twice the high estimate, bringing $826.
The sale was called by Tim Luke, with frequent support from Michael Bertoia.
For additional information, www.bertoiaauctions.com or 856-692-1881.
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