Published: June 5, 2001
Beneficial Bedfellows at Bertoia: Folk Art and Toys Bring $1.5 Million in New Auction Facility
VINELAND, N.J.- The new Bertoia Auctions Gallery received its auction christening recently with a two-day sale featuring over 1,500 lots of antique toys relating groupings. The gallery opened its new doors and welcomed collectors with a display of toy diversity from several important collections that brought nearly $1.5 million dollars.
The new auction facility is located just south of historic Philadelphia, and within a short driving distance of New York City.
The May sale featured tin toys, mechanical banks, comic character toys, auto, whimsical, pressed steel, Christmas ornaments, early games, doorstops, and fine folk art. The variety of goods was well advertised prior to the sale, and countless rdf_Descriptions prompted high levels of interest from the crowd of seated collectors and phone bidders.
Folk art, acquired from a private collection, surprised many bidders. Among the highlights were a beautifully carved cigar store Indian, standing over five feet tall, which sold for $28,600, and a Miss Liberty weathervane, measuring 34 inches high, which matched the same $28,600 figure.
The grouping, while containing small bronzes, assorted wooden trade stimulators, and amusing match safes, created focused interest on an unusual cast-iron Uncle Sam mailbox which sold for $7,700, and a large scaled cast iron Clown Target which went for $10,450. A much smaller yet striking cast iron target example featuring rider on horse captured its own attention to the tune of $5,280.
Once again, Mickey Mouse made his presence known. A slate dancer example sold for $18,700; a rare Mickey Mouse tin mechanical bank reached $39,600; and Mickey Moving Eyes brought $16,500. Not to be outshone, another very rare Minnie carrying Felix in a cage sold for $22,000. Recent sales of rare Mickey Mouse toys have demonstrated a solid collecting circle of interest for the popular character and rare examples continue to bring newsworthy prices.
Comic character collectors were further rewarded with Ideal toy choices, and again, Mickey Mouse, this time with his band of boxed Merrymakers, set the tone at $2,420. Competing for attention was a drumming Popeye, rolling away to a new home for $4,070, while an interesting Rabbit Chase game, by Wolverine Mfg., sold for $1,980.
For toys with an earlier past, true American toy inventiveness, and made before the days of mass production, the sales entries contained a small but distinguished grouping of examples. The very desirable and extremely rare mechanical Mule Dancers toy, which depicted two heavy cardboard donkeys with riders mounted to a tin floor and wood base, brought $13,200, while the automatic Toy Boxers in cloth suits and intricate clockwork hammered to $10,450.
The selection of early American toys also included the popular Suffragette and Preacher figures, together with unusual mixed medium dancing figure toys. Ives toys were well represented, and highlighting the lots was the Colored Fiddler, which sold for $6,050.
Bertoia’s brought a fresh selection of mechanical and still banks to the podium, offering over 100 mechanical banks and 300 still banks. There were cast iron, ceramic, and lead varieties.
The premier highlight for a mechanical bank was an exceptional Two Frogs bank which after furious paddle waving sold for $14,300. A few of the other notables were Lion Hunter, $6,270; Goat, Man and Frog, $8,800; Boy Scout, $7,150; Butting Buffalo, $5,500; Chimpanzee, $5,500; and an Always Spize a Mule at $2,750.
John Haley’s reference collection helped anchor the still bank segment, with many in the very rare designation creating intense bidding interest. The cast iron stand-outs included the Eiffel Tower, rare version, selling at a very respectable $6,600; the equally rare Chicago Bank, $6,050; painted Home Bank, $3,575; and a Mabel Sharpe bank, $2,970. The cast iron entries set the stage for the lead examples, which commanded new highs in market pricing. A lead Sailor Boy sold for $2,860, an adorable Standing Rabbit brought $2,750, and the rare Bremen Musicians bank sold for $3,410.
Rare Dresden ornaments, all consigned from the original jobber’s granddaughter, met with serious bidding activity. Many of the handcrafted ornaments were of the nearly or never-spotted-before variety. The response by collectors culminated in several battles for new ownership. A few of the battles ended as follows: Conestoga Wagon, $5,720; large Battleship; $4,620; Barometer, $3,850; Santa Bust, $2,750; Whimsical Monkey riding Goat, $3,300. Bertoia will sell part two of the Dresden collection this fall.
On a heavier subject, doorstops included more than 100 examples and attracted some interesting bidding action, as the selection was quite diverse. A few of May’s standouts included a Popeye figure, $5,720; Standing Terrier, $3,190; Charleston Dancers, $3,300; Red Riding Hood, $2,410.
All prices quoted include the buyer’s premium.
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