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Bertoia Auctions' Nov. 11-12 Signature Sale of toys & holiday antiques tipped to be one of the company's best ever
Highly desirable Marklin Battleship Sankt Georg, 28in long, est. $100,000-$140,000. All images courtesy of Bertoia Auctions.

VINELAND, NJ.- The toy-collecting hobby has always been a lively two-way street with sellers on one side and buyers on the other. It’s at its strongest and most energetic when the truly great collections appear at auction, as will be the case on November 11-12 when Bertoia’s presents its Saturday Fall Signature Sale, with a bonus Sunday session of holiday antiques and trains.

“Everyone who has come in to preview has commented that this is going to be one of the best sales we’ve ever had, and I would definitely agree,” said Bertoia Auctions’ owner, Jeanne Bertoia. “The quality is very high across the board, with consignments from prestigious collections in every category.”

Jeanne cited several blue-chip sources, including the pressed steel and pedal car collection of the late Eugene DeGraw, fantastic mechanical banks from Texas collector/Mechanical Bank Collectors of America (MBCA) member Steve Said, and a long-held collection of beautiful Martin clockwork toys from a past Antique Toy Collectors of America (ATCA) member who tracked down elusive examples over several decades. Also, there are wonderful trains from Jerry Greene and other veteran collectors; and an exceptional Christmas grouping from the same estate collection that was introduced in Bertoia’s March Signature Sale.

There is so much superior-quality material in the Christmas collection that Bertoia’s decided to select 100 of the top pieces for inclusion in the Saturday Signature Sale and to add a bonus Sunday session to accommodate the rest.

“The owner was a long-time member of the Golden Glow of Christmas Past and had a connoisseur’s eye,” Jeanne said. “Probably half of the items are so outstanding, even the most advanced Christmas collector would want to acquire them.”

In the Saturday session, there are 10 Santas that measure 24 inches in height or taller. “If even one Santa of that type appears in an auction, that’s impressive, but ten is unheard of,” Jeanne said. Also featured are belsnickles, large Father Christmas figures, a sizable Krampus, chalk Santas, and Heubach figures of children on skis, holding snowballs, etc.

The cast-iron section includes both automotive and horse-drawn toys. Among the Hubley highlights are a Royal Circus Giraffe wagon, a Hill Climber motorcycle, and a sky-blue ‘Say It With Flowers’ motorcycle delivery van. Early Kenton autos will be ready to take a spin, as well. A small offering of 1880s bell and pull toys includes a boxed, near-mint J. & E. Stevens “Landing of Columbus” bell toy plus several examples by Ives.

Collectors can choose from nearly 100 pristine mechanical banks from the Steve Said collection. “MBCA members visited Steve’s collection during a past convention, so his banks are well known to them,” noted Bertoia’s auctioneer Michael Bertoia. They include a fresh-to-market Lion Hunter, top-condition Punch and Judy, Afghanistan bank in supreme condition, and a stellar Boy Scout Camp. Rare and desirable tin banks include a Mickey Mouse vending bank and a boxed Magie.

An influential collector and authority on the subject, Jeanne Bertoia personally curates each and every doorstop offered in her company’s sales. The November 11 session includes one of her favorites: a handsome Bradley & Hubbard Heron. Other top picks are a Bradley & Hubbard Brown Owl in superb condition, a flat, double-sided Spencer Pelican with original white, yellow and green paint; and a pristine Dutch Girl with Flowers. “There are many extremely beautiful florals, birds and other animal varieties, including squirrel designs that I’ve never seen before,” Jeanne said.

One of Saturday’s high points will be 140 pressed-steel automotive toys and pedal cars from the estate of Eugene DeGraw. A highly respected and well-liked collector, dealer and mentor, DeGraw sent his original collection to auction several years ago. “But it wasn’t long before he started feeling pangs of remorse,” explained Michael Bertoia. “Like any great collector, he missed the excitement of making new discoveries, so he started a second collection, armed with a tremendous amount of knowledge and many more contacts than he had in the beginning. He knew what to buy. Our consultant, Tom Hathazy, who cataloged the DeGraw collection, couldn’t believe the number of great, original pieces.” Twenty pedal cars, both restored and original, are in this lineup.

Bertoia’s railway station will be brimming with high-quality European and American trains, both standard gauge and 2-inch types. There will be affinity groupings of Marklin, Voltamp and Lionel trains, with the latter exhibiting consistent C9 condition or better throughout. An anticipated scene-stealer, a circa-1910 deluxe version of Marklin’s English Churchbury Station in 100% original condition came to Bertoia’s from the original owner’s family in India. It could command a winning bid of $20,000 or more.

Once again, a grand fleet of antique boats – around 40 in all – will set sail at Bertoia’s Signature Sale. Both American and German boats are represented, including coveted Marklin battleships, ocean liners and a paddlewheeler.

The European section continues with a sensational array of 30+ French-made Martin wind-ups that was amassed by a New York collector, ATCA member and world traveler. “His focus was always on condition and rarity. These Martin clockwork toys are untouched, pristine examples, and there are several that we’ve never even seen before except in books,” Jeanne said. They include a boxed Khaki Guard, a Cakewalk, and an Acrobatic Gymnast that would be familiar only to those who have visited a Paris museum where a similar example is on display. Complementing the Martins are several wonderful Lehmann toys: a boxed Halloh motorcycle (ex Donald Kaufman) and a Baker & Sweep.

Early Steiff productions are highlighted by two lots in particular, both made of velvet. One is a set of three velvet bunnies; the other is a full set of Steiff animal-form skittles.

While the top-tier Christmas antiques and trains will be presented during the Saturday Signature Sale, there will be much more in the bonus Sunday session: 300 holiday lots and 150 train lots. “Everything reserved for Sunday has great eye appeal at a lower price point. In the Christmas and holiday category, there are numerous die-cuts and flat paper items, including sought-after Rafael Tuck productions,” Jeanne said. In addition to paper, the Christmas selection features Santas in sleighs – some pulled by reindeer – glass and other tree ornaments, candy containers, later Santas, and many small buildings.

All forms of bidding will be available, including absentee, phone or live via the Internet through To contact Bertoia Auctions about any item in the sale, to order a printed catalog or to reserve a phone line for bidding, call 856-692-1881 or email

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