Over time, fine toys become historical objects as they pass from one prestigious collection to the next. That concept will be strikingly apparent at Bertoia Auctions
June 2-3 Annual Spring Auction, which includes treasured toys from some of the greatest collections of all, including that of the late KB Toys co-founder Donald Kaufman.
Toys from the Donald Kaufman collection are now starting to reappear in our auctions. Collectors are ecstatic to have a second chance to buy the rare and beautiful toys they missed out on during the Kaufman auction series we hosted in 2009 and 2010, said Jeanne Bertoia, owner of Bertoia Auctions. Recognized as the largest privately owned automotive toy collection of all time, the Kaufman collection totaled $12.1 million.
Not only does Bertoias June auction include several prized pieces from the Kaufman collection, it also features the final 150 lots of pressed-steel and light pressed-steel vehicles from the Jay Schoedinger collection, and Part II of the Catherine Sue McKinney collection of antique teddy bears. A special attraction from across the Atlantic is the multigenerational Lorette family collection from Switzerland, which contains superb hand-painted German tin toys, many of them extremely rare.
The Friday session will open with cast-iron automotive, including a few toys with Kaufman provenance, such as a Hubley boxed racer with electric lights and an all-original Hubley Friendship airplane. It is unusual to see a Friendship plane in factory condition with original paint. Many that have appeared in the marketplace at one time or another were repaints, Bertoia noted.
Among the other star lots are a large-size Hubley Bordens Milk truck, an extremely scarce Seto Bugatti racecar made by Scoglund & Olsen, and one of three known examples of a Kilgore sedan with trunk. In the horse-drawn cast iron subcategory, standouts include two Pratt & Letchworth productions: a 4-seat brake and a hook and ladder wagon.
Twenty-five lots of early American tin toys will cross the auction block, as well. Leading the parade is an elusive and always avidly pursued Suffragette patriotic toy.
The mechanical and still bank selection is brimming with superior examples, such as a rare Germania Exchange bank with outstanding paint, and arguably one of the best of all known Darktown Battery banks, also in stellar condition. Approximately 50 still banks will be offered, with a variety of shapes replicating animals, people, whimsical subjects, and buildings. Of the latter, top pieces include an Ives Palace and a Kyser & Rex Apple.
Jeanne Bertoia, a renowned expert on the subject of figural cast-iron doorstops, is especially pleased with the variety and quality awaiting doorstop collectors on auction day. Strong competition is expected for a full-figure Honey Bear, Hubley full-figure Giraffe, and a windswept West Wind Girl. Also holding special appeal with doorstop fans are a Bradley & Hubbard Huckleberry Finn in near-mint condition and a very rare Bugle Boy, which Bertoia says almost never comes up for sale.
Along with a mix of country store and antique advertising items including display cases and Diamond Dye cabinets, signs and posters there are several coffee mills to add nostalgia from turn-of-the-century kitchens. Of special interest is the collection of antique tobacciana that runs the gamut of early smoking paraphernalia, from figural cigar cutters to match safes and match-dispensing machines. Also featured is a tiger oak floor-model "Quartoscope" arcade machine, complete with stereo cards.
The Friday session will conclude with approximately 150 pieces of pressed-steel and light pressed-steel vehicles from the Jay Schoedinger collection. A large array, it includes trucks, fire engines, moving vans and all types of construction toys.
On Saturday, Bertoias will start the proceedings with a phenomenal collection of early, hand-painted German tin toys from the Lorette family of Switzerland. The collection was amassed by multiple generations of toy enthusiasts, all having a remarkable eye for quality and artistry. There are many rarities from the revered toymaker Gunthermann, including a Whimsical Animals swing toy never before seen by Bertoias experts a Performing Clown with Wheelbarrow, and a larger size See-Saw. Additionally, there is a hand-painted Circus Roundabout with four figures, and Three Musicians on a Bench.
Also from the Lorette collection comes a Gunthermann clockwork Mutt & Jeff (ex Donald Kaufman collection) and approximately 75 Lehmann character toys. Many of the Lehmanns are boxed, including a Masuyama, Baker and Chimney Sweep, a near-mint Lehmann Garage with 2 Cars, and a Zig-Zag. This is definitely the sale for collectors who like their toys boxed, Bertoia observed.
In the European automotive category, there is a small but select grouping of tinplate cars, including an extremely rare 1930s Karl Bub Horch coupe with electric headlamps, and a near-mint, boxed Citroen C4 Hire. Additionally, the sale features both the largest and medium-size versions of Carette limousines; and a boxed Gunthermann fire ladder truck. The latter three toys were once part of the Donald Kaufman collection and retain the beautiful gold-rope tags that Bertoias commissioned for the Kaufman auction series.
Nearly 200 comic character and tinplate wind-up toys will be waiting in the wings to entertain, among them a Gunthermann Jiggs bumper car, a rare Gunthermann Bonzo, a German Uncle Wiggily Crazy Car, and a classic Marx Blondie Jalopy, always a favorite with collectors. Also in the mix are a Marx Spic & Span Band, and Henry and Henrietta Travelers in their original box.
Next up, there will be paper-on-wood toys and games, whimsical candy containers, dollhouses, and dolls, including several very pretty Queen Anne-type wooden dolls. The session will close with Part II of the Catherine Sue McKinney collection of fine teddy bears. One of the highlights of this well regarded collection is a coveted small-size Steiff rod bear, complete with an X-ray revealing its interior framework.
The gallery preview will take place during regular business hours in the week preceding the auction, or any other time by appointment. Bertoia Auctions is located at 2141 DeMarco Dr., Vineland, NJ 08360. All forms of bidding will be available, including absentee, phone or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com.