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Prominent Washington attorney Max N. Berry's antique toy and bank collection to be auctioned
One of the rarest pieces in the Max N. Berry collection is a circa-1876 “Preacher at the Pulpit” mechanical bank made by the J. & E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Connecticut. Coming to market with a long and distinguished line of provenance, it will be offered at auction with a $150,000-$175,000 estimate. Bertoia Auctions image.

VINELAND, NJ.- Jeanne Bertoia, owner of Bertoia Auctions in Vineland, New Jersey, announced today that her company has been chosen to auction the antique toy and bank collection of distinguished Washington attorney and longtime collector/scholar Max Berry. The first in a series of two, possibly three, auctions devoted to the Berry collection will be held at Bertoia’s gallery on November 14 and 15, 2014. Over 500 antique banks, cast-iron horse-drawn toys, early American tin and cast-iron bell toys will cross the auction block.

“We are thrilled that Max chose us to auction his toys. It’s such an honor for us,” said Bertoia. “Our family has been friends with Max for many years, going back to the great friendship he had with my husband, Bill [the late William S. Bertoia, co-founder of Bertoia Auctions].”

The Max Berry collection is regarded as one of the most important antique toy and bank collections in existence.

“Few collections are on par with Max’s,” Bertoia said. “In terms of rarity and historical significance, it ranks among the very best collections of the past 30 to 40 years.”

Although the lineup of toys for November’s debut sessions is still being finalized, Bertoia singled out two exciting early American rarities that definitely will be included: a circa-1875 J. & E. Stevens “Preacher at the Pulpit” mechanical bank and the only known example of an 1893 Ives cast-iron “Cutter Sleigh” with original figure.

Among the mechanical banks to be auctioned are several that collectors “might only have the chance to bid on once or twice in a lifetime,” Bertoia said.

To satisfy collectors’ curiosity until the printed catalog is available in October, Bertoia’s will be uploading images of Berry’s toys and banks to their website ( on an ongoing basis.

“We would recommend that collectors check back regularly to see what else has been added to the website, but they shouldn’t delay in ordering their catalogs once they become available,” Bertoia said. “Catalogs documenting Max Berry’s collection will be a must-have for every collector’s reference library. They could easily sell out.”

A Washington resident, Max N. Berry has practiced international trade law since 1967. He represents industries and countries throughout Europe, as well as U.S. corporations and trade associations that export various products abroad. In addition, he has been active in national and local politics, and has served on the Business and Finance Council of the National Democratic Party. He has also been significantly involved with nonprofit organizations in Washington and throughout the United States. A longtime patron of the arts, Berry has participated on the boards of many cultural organizations and recently served as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Smithsonian Institution. He is also on the Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has served as trustee to many other prestigious fine art institutions.

Over the years, Berry has also been an actively involved member of both the Antique Toy Collectors of America and Mechanical Bank Collectors of America, for which he has served as pro bono legal adviser.

“Max is highly respected and very well liked by his fellow collectors – he’s a superstar of the hobby. Many consider him a mentor and turn to him for advice and guidance. He’s also a fantastic storyteller who remembers every detail behind every toy purchase he ever made. When he talks about his collecting adventures, he draws you in and you feel like you were actually there, right alongside him, as he was buying this toy or that bank. We’re expecting a packed house at the preview, where collectors will be able to discuss the toys personally with Max before they are auctioned,” Bertoia said.

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