Published: May 15, 2018
Review by R. Scudder Smith, Photos Courtesy Bertoia Auctions
VINELAND, N.J. – It was a busy time at Bertoia Auctions on April 27-28 when 1,032 lots were sold during the spring Signature Sale. Under the direction of auctioneers Tim Luke and Michael Bertoia, bidders used one of several ways to raise a paddle and buy a great toy, still or mechanical bank, a Teddy bear, a Santa candy container, a Buddy L vehicle, doorstop, a Hubley two-seat brake, dolls, battleships and many different makes of trains. When all was said and done, and the last lot had crossed the block, $1.9 million, including the buyer’s premium, had been spent.
“The auction ran very smoothly with active phones and many absentee bids, totaling 46 percent of the lots, 25 percent went to the web and 30 percent live,” Michael Bertoia noted after the sale. He also mentioned that European lots did well and there was strong interest in cast iron auto toys, pressed steel vehicles and Popeye objects.
Talk about a running start, lot 5, a Citroen Au Louvre delivery van, carried an estimate of $2/3,000. “We thought the estimate was in line, but it was far from the final bid of $48,000,” Michael said, adding, “two determined phone bidders fought it out.” The van is pictured on this page.
Among the motorcycles in the sale was a Matarazza cycle with passenger, Argentine lithographed tin with a bright color palette, 9 inches long and in excellent condition. It sold over estimate at $1,920, and three lots later a Rico Civilian cycle, with passenger, went just under estimate at $1,800. This motorcycle features bold colored lithographed tin, windscreen and headlamp at front of handlebars. The cycle measures 9½ inches long and is in pristine condition. Among a selection of airplanes was an Ingap Italian bi-wing plane with bright color lithography covering this windup toy. In excellent condition, this lot sold over the $900 high estimate for $1,440.
Among the German toys was a large Bing Royal mail delivery van with opening rear doors and cab with opening doors. It measures 22 inches long, ex Donald Kaufman collection, and went for $4,500, just shy of double the high estimate. Another German toy, also from the Kaufman collection, was a Karl Bub limousine in lithographed tin, with spoke wheels, opening doors and seated chauffeur driver. It sold just under the high estimate at $1,440, pristine condition and measuring 14 inches long. For $2,700, just shy of double the high estimate, was a Lehmann Lila hansom cab, Germany, lithographed and hand painted tin, blue coach version and clockwork-driven. In excellent condition, it measured 6 inches high.
Several lots were by Ferdinand Martin, including a performing monkey, circa 1908, “La Danse Des Singes” that depicts a fun street corner monkey act showing tricks, excellent condition, that went for $3,600, just under the high estimate, and a Hansom Cab, circa 1900, later version of “Le Cab” with open windows. It sold for $570, within estimate.
Parisian Woman is a well-dressed figure with green felt long skirt, accent shawl and stylish hat. In pristine condition and measuring 8 inches tall, she sold for $6,000, at the high estimate. The carpenter, a scarce hand painted tin toy with cloth-dressed figure and a clockwork mechanism that allows the figure to plane wood on his bench, sold for $5,400, above the $3,500 high estimate.
A circa 1904 gentleman climbing a ladder by Martin, with the original box, 7½ inches high, sold over the $2,250 high estimate for $6,600, and a Martin cart drawn by a team of oxen, 7½ inches long, brought $4,500, again over estimate.
Selling within estimate at $2,160 was a Linemar Popeye rowboat, battery-operated, 10 inches long and in pristine condition, followed by a Popeye boxing Brutus toy, 6 inches long, pristine, for $1,200, twice the high estimate. A boxed Chein Popeye The Heavy Hitter, 12 inches high, sold over the $3,000 high estimate for $4,800, while Popeye riding horse-drawn cart, boxed, 7½ inches high, brought twice the high estimate at $1,200.
It took many pages to illustrate the quantity of trains and accessories in the auction, including a Bing New York Central passenger set led by a classic 3238 S-cab loco, followed by three passenger cars. In pristine condition it sold within estimate at $5,100. A Lionel 1911 special went over estimate at $3,300, an Ives No. 1 clockwork passenger set, O gauge, loco and tender 9 inches long went for $2,080. The last train sold was a Flyer Burlington Zephyr Streamline, O gauge, Loco, 13 inches long, excellent condition, for $900.
Bertoia is well known for Christmas material and it does not have to be December for Santa, reindeer and kugels to be on the catalog pages. Five Santa figures got the auction rolling on the second day of selling, including a Santa dressed in a green hooded robe, 20 inches high, candy container, for $2,160; a walking Santa in a white robe, 13 inches high for $2,700; a red robed Santa with backpack filled with gifts, composition body 9 inches high; a Santa Claus candy container, 12 inches high, green coat with blue pants, rabbit fur beard, for $840; and a keywind Santa nodder, 28 inches high, dressed in a red felt robe with white trim, composition face and hands, at $2,400.
Buddy L was well represented in the sale with a Wrigley Express Agency truck, 21 inches long, pristine, selling over estimate for $1,899; a Buddy L Express Line Screen Side, 24 inches long, excellent condition, brought $2,160; a Buddy L Tank Line, 24 inches long, went over the $1,200 high estimate, selling for $2,040; and a Buddy L chain drive dump truck, 23 inches long and in pristine condition, went over the $900 high estimate, bringing $1,440.
A Rich Toys Borden Milk van, another vehicle from the Donald Kaufman collection, sold for $2,040, pristine and above estimate, while a Kingsbury Huckster truck, 14 inches long and in excellent condition, went over estimate at $2,280. A few lots later, a boxed Kingsbury Taxiplane, 16 inches long and pristine, went over estimate at $1,200.
Among the pedal vehicles was a Steelcraft Army Scout pedal plane, 45 inches long, green with red wings and tail, that sold at $2,400, within estimate, and a few lots later a Yellow Cab pedal car, limited edition by Greg Schneider, 84 inches long and in near mint condition, stayed within estimate at $9,600.
The Vindex P&H steam shovel was made in two sizes, and the larger of the two was offered, bringing $6,600, better than twice the high estimate. It measures 14 inches long by 9 inches high and was in very good to excellent condition. A Hubley Trukmixer, a rare example with red cab and body and green cement drum that revolves when the truck is moving, went over the high estimate at $4,500, and a Hubley Panama Shovel in scarce blue version, bright and shiny condition, near mint, sold for $4,200, over the high estimate. Towards the end of the toys, a Kilgore Roadster in a nice color combination of yellow and blue with nickel appointments went over the $2,500 high estimate, bringing $6,600. It measures 10½ inches long and is in pristine condition.
Banks and doorstops brought the sale to a close with 210 lots, including an Uncle Sam mechanical by Shephard Hardware Co., circa 1886, excellent condition, that went for $2,400, selling above estimate, and Darktown Battery mechanical bank by J&E Stevens, circa 1888, pristine, almost doubled the high estimate selling for $11,400. One of the popular mechanicals was the American sewing machine, circa 1880, maker unknown, excellent condition, that went within estimate for $10,200.
A good variety of doorstops closed out the auction, including a two-sided swan marked “Spencer, Guilford, Conn” that was in pristine condition and sold for $3,600 – over estimate, and a two-sided rooster, also marked “Spencer,” 13-3/8 inches high, well painted with a red comb, that also went over estimate, bringing $2,400.
Among the Bradley & Hubbard pieces were a rooster, painted and measuring 11-1/8 inches tall, that sold for $5,400, and a squirrel, standing on rear legs and eating a nut, pristine condition, at $4,500. Both went well over the high estimate. The most popular dog doorstop was lot 1120, an English bulldog by Bradley and Hubbard, complete with rubber bumpers, near mint condition, that more than doubled the high estimate when it sold for $3,300.
Prices are given with buyer’s premium, as reported by the auction house.
The next auction, a basic sale, is scheduled for June 22, possibly a two-day event, and the next Signature Sale will be in the fall, again possibly a two-day auction. For information, www.bertoiaauctions.com or 856-692-1881.
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