Published: November 21, 2017
Review and Onsite Photos by R. Scudder Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy Bertoia Auctions
VINELAND, N.J. – It is almost as if the motorcycles, the first few lots of the Signature Sale at Bertoia Auctions on November 11, were there to get the sale off to a roaring start. The popularity of motorcycles was backed up by some high bids, doorstops held the doors open for some strong interest, a battleship was the top lot of the auction bringing $192,000, Lehmann creations paid no attention to estimates, and Santa figures were hot enough to melt the artificial snow. And, as usual, there were a good number of star lots among the many train lots offered, and pressed steel vehicles rolled up some high bids.
The auction started with Tim Luke at the helm, selling well over the first 100 lots before Michael Bertoia called the bids for the next hour or so. At the start of the auction at 9 am, about 25 people were in the gallery, those interested in cast iron toys, mechanical banks, and doorstops. It was interesting to see people come and go depending on what category was being sold. By the end of the day, when Christmas filled the air, many new faces were in the gallery. All in all, about 125 different people visited the gallery that day. When all was said and done, live and absentee bidders accounted for 44 percent of the sales, phone bidders took 47 percent and 29 percent went to LiveAuctioneers.
Several motorcycles got the auction rolling shortly after 9 am, with lot 1, a Hubley Harley-Davidson Police Bike in orange, cast iron, nickel spoke wheels, that went just over the high estimate, selling for $510, and a few lots later an Arcade Flat Top Yellow Cab, 8 inches long, pristine condition, went for $3,300, over the high estimate.
A bid of $2,700 took an Arcade REO Coup, one of two versions of this car with gray paint and rubber wheels. It measures 9 inches, excellent condition, with a $2,000 high estimate. An Ives Crawling Baby toy, purchased privately from Donal Markey, measures 5 inches, retains most of the blue paint, and sold over the $1,500 estimate for $2,400. An Ives Walking Mule, circa 1890s, with nearly flawless japanned finish with gold straps, also purchased from Donal Markey, went over the $1,600 high estimate, selling for $2,040.
Among a selection of doorstops a Windmill with Cottages by A.M. Greenblatt Studios, Boston, went for $270, a Gnome brought $450, a Putting Golfer sold for $420, while a Hessian Soldier brought $150. A second lot of stops included a Blow Fish at $900, a Blackbird for $720 and a Peter Rabbit doorstop by Hubley for $720.
Mechanical banks filled 18 pages of the catalog, including Clown on Globe, J&E Stevens, circa 1890, excellent condition, that brought $2,400, within estimate, while the Stump Speaker brought $3,900, also within estimate. The Stump Speaker dates circa 1886 and is a product of the Shepard Hardware Co.
Listed in pristine condition was the original bronze pattern of the iconic shooting mechanical bank that sold over estimate for $2,400, the popular Darktown Battery mechanical bank by J&E Stevens brought $8,400, over the $7,500 high estimate, and the Magician mechanical bank, also by Stevens, circa 1901, pristine, sold for $5,100, above the $4,500 high estimate.
All eight stations of the phone bank, plus a couple of cellphones, were all called to business when a selection of Lehmann toy crossed the block. It all started with the Lehmann Tit-Bits – German version of a rare bank, pictured – followed by the Lehmann Tit-Bits automatic money box, Germany, circa 1889, lithographed tin vending bank with coin tray at the front and candy tray at base. It went for $3,600, above the $3,000 high estimate.
The Lehmann Halloh Motorcycle with box, early example, clockwork driven, ex Donald Kaufman Collection, pristine, went $1,000 over estimate, bringing $6,000; the Jupiter Hot Air Balloon, with gondola and figure, 5¼ inches high, brought $2,700, twice the high estimate, and $2,700 was paid for the Lehmann Baker and Chimney Sweep, circa 1900, lithographed and hand painted tin, excellent condition, with a high estimate of $2,000. The Lehmann X Ray Machine, with a $400 high estimate, brought $1,140 from a phone bidder.
At one point, when Lehmann lots were going very well, Tom Sage Sr looked across the aisle to where Rich Garthoeffner was sitting and called out, “I bought one of those from you for $100 a long time ago, and still have it.” Rich replied, “I will pay double for it,” an offer that only brought a laugh from Tom.
A Martin Fireman Climbing Ladder, circa 1904, “Le Pompier a L’Echelle,” depicting a hero climbing up a ladder to make a rescue, pristine, brought $2,040 against a $1,200 high estimate, while two lots later $9,600 was paid for Martin Shoe Shiner, well over the $3,500 high estimate. This circa 1898 figure demonstrates an early street vendor profession, when activated arms shift to motion shoe shining.
The Martin Khaki Soldier with box, circa 1900, one of two figures that represent men from the Boer War, dressed in cloth, helmet and holding gun, doubled the $7,500 high estimate at $15,600; the next lot, Martin Sentinel English Guard, circa 1901, the figure wearing a red felt jacket and cloth pants, 7½ inches tall, went for $11,400, above the $3,500 high estimate, followed by the Martin Woman Sweeping, circa 1895, a depiction of an important part of Parisian life, 4¾ inches high, that brought $6,600, tripling the high estimate.
Jeanne Bertoia was very active taking phone bids during this last grouping, and when it was over commented, “That’s what you call a real power hour.”
It was 1:30 pm when lot 317, a German Tin Gentleman Dressed Frog, hand painted figure 7 inches tall, sold for $2,400, over estimate, and a German Tin Bug Collector on Beetle, hand painted and pristine, sold over the $2,500 high estimate for $3,900.
A Marklin windup race car, Germany, embossed hood and grille, 10 inches long, sold over estimate at $900, while a Marklin Delivery Truck, 1920 version, clockwork driven, complete with eight original Marklin oil cans in the bed, brought $7,800, just over the high estimate.
A strong selections of boats was in this auction, including the Marklin Liverpool Paddle Wheel Boat, a river boat with unique copper-colored hand painted hull and red paddle wheel on both sides of the boat. It measures 17½ inches long, excellent condition, and sold for $24,000, within estimate. The Lutz Paddlewheel Boat Toulouse , with an almost whimsically overall appearance, has a radiant color scheme and gold detailing to the walls, red and white canopy, and measuring 21½ inches long. It sold for $16,800, within estimate.
One hundred-seventy-five lots of railroad cars and accessories were offered, including a Marklin O Gauge Mobile Transport, the horse-drawn moving wagon features opening rear doors and detailed writing on the sides with advertising messages. The train car sides open to flatten out to allow the wagon to roll on and off of a freight platform. It measures 6½ inches long, pristine condition, and sold for $12,000, the high estimate.
A Carlisle & Finch 2″ Gauge Freight Set, circa 1901-03, includes a #12 box car, #11 gondola, #46 caboose with red and black label and a #49 tank car. In excellent condition, it sold for $3,600, within estimate. Lot 572, a Lionel Outfit 378W Nickel Girard Set, loco 17 inches long, 424, 425, 426 Girard cars, excellent condition, brought $7,800, well over the $3,000 high estimate. A Lionel/Ives 1778 Refrigerator Car with box, 11½ inches long, pristine condition, went over the $1,600 high estimate to realize $4,500.
A Buddy L Lumber Truck, circa 1920s, 28 inches long, black body with red wheels, sold for $2,400, over estimate, and Steelcraft Mack Dump 5 Ton Pedal Truck, circa 1935, original paint and decals, 50 inches long, went over the $3,000 high estimate, selling for $5,100.
A Buddy L Hydraulic Ladder Truck, with box, pristine condition, 29½ inches long,exceeded estimate at $3,300, and a Turner Packard Lincoln Sedan, circa 1920s, with all original paint, headlights and hood ornament, was just shy of the high estimate at $3,300.
A Steelcraft Dodds Dairy Delivery Van, 18 inches long, excellent condition, sold for four times the high estimate at $3,900, while a Keystone Hydraulic Lift Dump, circa 1920s, excellent condition, original green body paint and decals, red wheels, 29 inches long, went for $2,040, above estimate.
Close to 100 lots of Christmas-related objects brought up the last section of the auction, and a wave of new bidders was in the gallery. A bid of $6,600 took a Steiff felt animal nine pins set, complete and in excellent condition, within estimate, and a Pennsylvania chalkware Belsnickle, Berks or Lancaster County, complete with rare and original tree with glass balls, 14½ inches tall, sold for $6,000, the high estimate. A German St Nicholas candy container, an early example made of composition with cardboard tube insert, dressed in gold-flecked robe with yellow trim, 9 inches high, excellent condition, went over the $4,500 high estimate, selling for $5,700.
An Erzgebirge Noah’s Ark, very folky with more than 100 animals, 21 inches long, excellent condition, sold over estimate at $3,900, and a soldier and drummer by the same company, Germany, the drummer beats the drum when crank is turned, excellent condition, went three times the high estimate, bringing $3,300. An early German Santa on Sled, long sleigh with feather tree loaded with Christmas gifts, 18 inches long and in excellent condition, sold for $3,600, three times the high estimate.
A nodding Santa with switch, Germany, wearing long red robe and hood, trimmed in white and a basket of toys at his waist, 20 inches high and in excellent condition, brought $3,000, over the $2,000 high estimate, while a magnificent Father Christmas figure, Germany, composition with well-done facial expression, wearing a brown-colored robe with white trim, 21 inches high, very good condition, sold well over the $2,000 high estimate for $10,800.
On Sunday, November 12, the auction continued with 470 lots of Christmas, to be reviewed in a forthcoming issue.
For additional information, 856-692-1881 or www.bertoiaauctions.com.
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