Published: June 13, 2017
Review and Onsite Photos by R. Scudder Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy of Bertoia Auctions
VINELAND, N.J. – Bertoia launched its spring auction on Friday, June 2, at 11 am, with 595 lots lined up to be sold, and finished the following day, starting at 9 am, with 700 more lots on the agenda. When it was over, the auction totaled $1.05 million, including the buyer’s premium, and the auctioneers, Tim Luke and Michael Bertoia, were tired, as was the bank of phone bid takers.
“The sale did well, offering something for everyone, and the highlights of the sale in each category shined brightly,” Jeanne Bertoia said the following Monday morning. She also mentioned that the phone has been ringing off the hook with successful phone bidders who were looking to settle up and get the mailing process rolling. It generally takes about one month to wrap and mail all of the lots purchased by the internet, phone bidders and absentee bidders.
Close to 1,200 internet bidders were registered for this sale, representing much of the world, including Germany, Argentina, Brazil, England, Sweden, France, Spain, South Africa, Australia and Russia, and 36 percent of the lots went to the web. There were also a large number of successful absentee and gallery bids, 40 percent, and phone bidders, 24 percent. Of the gross amount of the sale, $520,000 was spent on Friday and $530,000 on Saturday.
The following is a review of the first day of the sale.
A 1933 Ford wrecker by Arcade rolled onto the screens at the front of the gallery, signaling the start of the sale and selling for $510 (see photo). A few lots later, a Hubley Elgin Street Sweeper of cast iron, one of the most intricate castings for a construction toy, complete with a seated figure and measuring 8½ inches long, surpassed the $1,500 high estimate, claimed for $2,400 by a phone bidder. A Kenton Seeing New York Bus, circa 1905, rare cast iron open seat bus that features Mama Katzenjammer, Happy Hooligan, Papa Katzenjammer, Gloomy Gus and the Sailor, each seated on railed open bench, orange bus body, 10½ inches long, went within estimate for $1,440, and an Arcade David’s White Moving Van, cast iron with extensive writing on both sides, 13¼ inches long, dark green painted body and opening back doors, went within estimate at $2,040.
A Hubley Police Cycle with sidecar, cast iron and red painted overall, rubber tires and spoke wheels, with the two original figures, went over the $600 high estimate, selling for $720, and the next lot, a Hubley Harley Cycle with Sidecar, cast iron in olive green with gold embossed lettering, cast policeman driver in the same color, 5½ inches long, went over estimate at $510.
“There are lots of absentee bids,” Tim Luke announced when lot 69 came up, an Arcade Chevy Coupe in gray and black overall with black running boards, silver trimmed grille, spare tire on the rear and in near-mint condition. It sold to a collector in the room for $2,700, and a phone bidder bought lot 87, a Kilgore Graham Coupe, a scarce size take-apart car painted in dark green with nickel grille, rubber tires and in very good condition. It went for $1,680, over the $900 high estimate.
An Arcade Borden’s Milk Bottle Truck, painted in light green overall, unique figural milk bottle design body with “Borden’s” embossed on both sides, 5¾ inches long, and in excellent condition brought $1,200 from the internet, over the $700 high estimate. A Hubley Grasshopper had several bidders that took the final bid to $1,200, over estimate. This toy had a cast iron body and aluminum legs, green painted with rubber tires, 12 inches long, near-mint condition and retaining the original pull cord. A lot of five Hubley Speed Racer Motorcycles with Sidecars, two in yellow, two in red and one in dark blue with #5 and #8 drivers, 4 inches long, went for $1,680, just over three times the high estimate.
One of the highlights among the fire apparatus offered was a Pratt & Letchworth Fire Pumper Wagon painted black and green with nickeled boiler and two figures, one standing on the back of the engine and one seated driving the two-horse wagon. It is 18 inches long, excellent condition, and brought $4,800, above estimate. A Kyser & Rex Santa Sleigh, the most elaborate in casting design, featured a seated Santa in red sleigh, drawn by two reindeer, garnered $2,160, within estimate.
Among the tin toys was an early American Clockwork Man Riding a Horse, attributed to Stevens & Brown, circa 1880s, hand painted horse with rider mounted on wire support, 11 inches long, that sold to an absentee bidder for $2,160, just over the high estimate. It was followed by a Bergmann Horse and Drummer Bell Toy, a rare painted tin depicting a standing figure with drum and horse with bell on saddle, 11 inches long, that went for $1,320, within estimate.
There were two sections of doorstops, the first with 55 examples, including many flower stops, such as Pansies for $210, Tulips & Roses for the same money, Poinsettia for $840, Roses in Basket for $360 and Cosmos for $180. The West Wind doorstop exceeded the $3,000 high estimate, bringing $4,800, and a Little Black Sambo example brought $3,300. The Bugler Boy by Hubley, 12-1/8 inches high, pristine condition, sold to a phone bidder for $3,900.
A selection of 77 mechanical and still banks came between the two groups of doorstops, with the auction’s top lot at $51,000 registered for a Germania Exchange Mechanical Bank (see photo). Other prices include $1,440 for a long sleeve Jolly “N” mechanical bank in pristine condition, $1,200 for a short-sleeve Dinah mechanical bank by John Harper & Co., and $6,600 for a Ferris Wheel mechanical bank, ex-Max Berry collection. The Eggman still bank brought $840, the large version of the Two-Face Devil sold for $720, and the Presto Bank by Kenton Hardware Co., Ohio, went for $870.
Another selection of 44 doorstops followed the banks, with the Lobster in near-mint condition bringing $2,700, Horse & Jockey at $1,920, Skunk sold for $780 and the same price took Squirrel with Nut on Stump. Each one of these went over the high estimate.
A smoke paint decorated miniature chest, Pennsylvania and possibly a salesman’s sample, turned legs and feet, 17 inches long, went for $1,440, while a rare R.G. Fowler Aviation poster, 42 by 28 inches, went for $1,320, over the $700 high estimate. Fowler flew from coast to coast over the Isthmus of Panama and this poster celebrates the filming of the construction of the Panama Canal on that flight in 1913.
A rare and ornate hanging pharmacy globe, constructed of pewter and leaded stained-glass with what appears to be the original hanging chain, brought $1,800, within estimate, and also selling within estimate at $1,020 was a Kingsbury Taxi Model Sedan with lights, circa 1927. It has an orange body, black roof, white rubber tires and measures 13 inches long. A grouping of five fire apparatus did well (see two pictured), and a Buddy L Brass Crank Aerial Ladder Truck, painted red overall, nickel extension ladder, bell on hood, sold just over the high estimate at $1,140.
Another Buddy L toy, a large derrick on base, circa 1923-25, was of pressed steel with vertical boiler and a boom on a black square base with clamshell grab bucket, 19 inches in length that sold for $1,400, above the $800 high estimate. This toy was one of the rarer Buddy L construction toys.
A bid of $1,200, within estimate, took a Steelcraft Richfield Gasoline Truck, pressed steel, Mack cab style done in black overall, 26 inches long and in very good condition, while a Keystone Mail Truck in pressed steel, open cab in black and body in a deep olive green, rubber tires, and the original pull cord and rear doors, measuring 26½ inches long, went for $1,020, over estimate. A Marx Roadside Service Rest Station with Auto, lithographed tin with figures standing at counter, foldable ramp with auto, oil cart, gas pumps, brought $1,020, the high estimate. It is in pristine condition and appears to be a complete set.
A boxed wood Buddy L Big Show Circus, the 1940s 300 Series, complete with tractor and cage wagon trailer, animals, and in pristine condition, apparently unplayed with, was offered. The catalog notes “no finer example to be found.” It measures 22 inches long and realized $1,800. A Rich Toys Needa Bakers Biscuit Tandem Truck, circa 1920s, wooden cab with two box trailers in lithographed tin, 25 inches long, was $900, and a Buddy L Wrecking Truck, black open cab with bench seat, red service body with crane, red disc wheels and decals on sides, 27½ inches long, brought $1,320, and a circa 1920s Sturditoy Coal Truck, pressed steel painted orange overall, 24½ inches long, went for $1,800.
At 5:20 pm lot 595 crossed the block; see photo.
A report of the second day of this auction will be in a forthcoming issue and will take a look at more toys, a collection of steam engines, games, dollhouses, bears and many dolls, including lot 1311, a Lance English “Queen Anne”-type wooden doll dating from the late Eighteenth Century and selling for $19,200, far exceeding the $3,500 high estimate.
For additional information, www.bertoiaauctions.com or 856-692-1881.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm