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Finest American & European toys, dolls, trains & holiday antiques chosen for Bertoia's March 28-29 auction
Hand-painted Noah’s Ark with extensive array of carved figures representing people and pairs of animals, 37in long, est. $12,000-$14,000. Bertoia Auctions image.

VIENLAND, NJ.- Wherever early character toys gather, collectors soon follow. The next destination for both is Bertoia Auctions’ Friday/Saturday March 28-29 auction of toys, dolls, and holiday antiques.

The 1,400-lot sale will open with 125 top-notch comic character toys, including many classics such as the Mickey and Minnie Hurdy Gurdy, all three variations of the Marx Merry Makers Band (standard, with violinist and with marquee), and a great selection of Popeye toys. The many clockwork depictions of the muscle-bound sailor to be auctioned – some of them boxed – include Popeye boxing, walking, flying a plane, playing basketball and working with a boxer’s punching bag. Also included are Disney’s Donald Duck, Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio, and Warner Brothers’ Porky Pig.

Another 300 lots of tin toys include examples of the Butter and Egg Man, Red the Ice Man, and many walking toys, such as Tom Twist and Hey Hey Chicken Snatcher. A fine representation of Marx toys features all variations of the Big Parade, a series of war cars, and many other favorites by the company that was once the world’s most prolific toy maker. Japanese tin racecars lining up for their turn at the spotlight will include a Champion Racer, Jet Racer and Super Racer, all from the same consignor.

European toys include Lehmann’s ZigZag, Man-Da-Rin, Nanu and Vineta monorail; and several Martins, including a Piano Player and a boxed delivery boy with cart known as Le Petit Livreur. An array of approximately 50 penny toys offers a wide range of amusing and automotive-related subjects, some produced by the German firms Fischer and Meier.

A second helping of 125 mixed comic character toys will be up next. Following closely behind will be a European car and toy rally led by a bright and beautiful medium-size Gordon Bennett racer from the late Dr. Malcolm Kates’ collection.

The diverse offering of European windups includes scarce Gunthermann minstrels, clowns in various poses, musicians, dancers, and a scull with four oarsmen. Also included are a few European carousels and Ferris wheels, and a grouping of key-wind and hand-crank automata, some of them musical and some by Bing.

Teddy bears will join the lineup. Steiff entries include a large muzzled example with Vineland, New Jersey upbringing; and a scarce rod bear. Others in varies sizes will pose for approval during the two-day event.

Automata and dolls go hand in hand, and Bertoia’s will offer close to 150 desirable European dolls in the Friday session, ranging from diminutive 1-inch articulated bisque dolls to French and German beauties exceeding 20 inches in height. Categories include German bisque-heads, Kammer & Reinhardt character babies, Gebruder Heubach character dolls, Simon & Halbig dolls and others. Among the googly doll highlights is an appealing Schwab design with rare flirty eyes. Other noteworthy lots include a large Kestner doll, a Jules Steiner bebe and an earliest-period Jumeau portrait doll.

The Saturday session starts with more than 300 cast-iron automotive toys from the collection of the late Judge Glenn McDonald of Louisville, Kentucky, and other private collections. Autos, trucks, buses and taxis will be joined by a very nice selection of early horse-drawn transportation toys.

An interesting grouping of Schoenhuts reveals several scarce examples. Top pieces include a boxed clown, Happy Hooligan, Boob McNutt, and an attractive Fairmount Farms Milk delivery wagon. Many jewel-eyed and caged animals are in the mix, with two standouts being a miniature pig and poodle.

Next up will be early games, mostly McLoughlin productions including the Watermelon Patch Game and Game of Louisa. Right alongside them will be several McLoughlin picture puzzles with colorful, richly illustrated box lids.

The last 400 lots of the auction will be well worth waiting for, as they consist of Erzebirge, skittles and exceptional Christmas and holiday lots, many from the revered collection of the late Tom Fox. Dresdens, Father Christmas display figures and Santas in sleighs – one of loofah; the other of wicker – are expected to keep bidding paddles busy.

“Collectors will love the Christmas selection. When we sold part one of the Tom Fox collection in November, we made sure we set aside some exceptional pieces to sell in the March sale, as well,” said Bertoia Auctions’ owner, Jeanne Bertoia. “The cataloging was very time intensive. We called on the expertise of Betty Bell, a specialist in Dresdens and holiday antiques, to make sure we didn’t miss anything in our descriptions.”

Among the 10 animal-head candy containers in the Fox collection are an iridescent parrot, a Bacchus on a wine cask grasping a cluster of grapes, and three examples that double as Christmas crackers: a Victorian lady’s boot, a horse’s head and boar’s head that Bell said she had never seen before.

An array of pre-World War I Dresdens crosses many categories of interest. There are harlequins, a jaunty sailor, a turkey vulture on a branch, a helmeted knight’s head with a movable visor, and an iridescent monkey riding a horse. Perhaps most highly prized is a scale-model Bugatti with driver. An equestrian-theme sub-collection with pieces from both the Fox collection and other consignors consists of numerous jumpers, an unusual lady riding sidesaddle, a riding boot, hoof and small horse’s head.

Bertoia’s March 28-29, 2014 Toys & Holiday Auction will begin at 10 a.m. on both days. Preview 9 a.m.-5 p.m. any weekday during the week preceding the auction, and one hour prior to each of the two sessions. All forms of bidding will be available, including absentee, by phone or live via the Internet through

To contact Bertoia Auctions call 856-692-1881 or email

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