Bertoia's to auction 3 legendary toy collections + bonus robot collection, Nov. 17-18

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Bertoia's to auction 3 legendary toy collections + bonus robot collection, Nov. 17-18
Gong Bell Daisy bell toy, est. $2,000-$3,000.

VINELAND, NJ.- Those who were immersed in the toy-collecting hobby as far back as the 1970s, ’80s or early ’90s – a golden era for toy buying – have fond memories of that time and often can recall exactly where and when they acquired certain prized pieces for their collections. The fun was not just in the acquisition of the toys, but also the friendships that developed. That sentiment certainly applies to the four individuals whose blue-chip collections are featured in Bertoia’s November 17-18, 2022 Annual Fall Auction.

Over the two-day period, the spotlight will shine on Bob Brady’s “private reserve” of antique toys, the entire mechanical bank collection of the late Jack White, and the superlative Christmas collection of Linda Smith and her late husband Curtis Smith. Additionally, a late consignment of top-tier robots will be offered. These collections are a testament to what can come from decades of networking, sleuthing and buying the finest and rarest examples.

In addition to being top-quality assemblages, the Brady, White and Smith collections are linked by another common thread. All contain pieces that boast a pedigreed “bloodline,” with provenance that includes some of the most famous collections of the 20th century.


Everyone knows Bob Brady. He’s “Mr. Hubley,” a nickname he earned for presciently collecting Hubley cast-iron toys – along with other toys – as early as 1975. He could be spotted with a flashlight at 4:30 in the morning at weekend markets like Pennsylvania’s Renningers and Shupps Grove, hoping to turn up early-bird delights. And often he did. He also had a knack for tracking down toys he could buy “fresh out of houses.” He became known as a gentleman collector who would wait patiently for toys to come his way if he missed out on them the first time around.

Bob’s favorites include:

• USCO Arcade White moving van
• Hubley 2-seat and 4-seat brakes
• Hubley cast-iron motorcycles
• Kyser & Rex cast-iron Bear & Kangaroo Cage bell toy
• Gong Bell bell toys
• Cast-iron pull toys
• Boxed Yonezawa Atom Jet Racer


John Forrest White – “Jack” to his many friends in the bank-collecting community – passed away in 2021 at the age of 83. A New Orleans native and graduate of Tulane University, Jack began his career as a stockbroker with Merrill Lynch and EF Hutton. He later owned a radio business and was active in real estate. An art-lover who spent the last part of his life in Mississippi, Jack served on the boards of the Walter Anderson Museum (Ocean Springs, Miss.) and the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art (Laurel, Miss.).

A member of the Mechanical Bank Collectors of America, Jack once hosted the club’s annual convention, in New Orleans. Like his friend Bob Brady, he had the opportunity to buy many mechanical banks that had formerly belonged to legendary collectors from the early days of the hobby. Jack’s mechanical bank collection includes these highlights plus many more:

• J. & E. Stevens Lion Hunter
• J. & E. Stevens Calamity
• J. & E. Stevens Dentist
• Mechanical Novelty Works - Initiating First Degree
• J. & E. Stevens Professor Pug Frog
• Kyser & Rex Butting Buffalo
• Shepard Hardware Co. Uncle Sam
• J. & E. Stevens Boy Scout Camp
• J. & E. Stevens Boy Robbing Bird’s Nest
• Shepard Hardware Co. Trick Pony


Linda Smith and her husband, the late Curtis “Curt” Smith (1945-2021), amassed one of the most envied of all Christmas collections. Californians who lived in Rancho Santa Fe before moving to Santa Barbara, the Smiths both enjoyed successful, high-level careers – Curt as a nuclear engineer with SAIC (Science Applications International Corp.) and Linda in the legal field as a writer of sentencing investigation reports for superior court cases.

They started out as American tin toy collectors and were members of the ATCA – Curt even served as president of the club – but because of work commitments, the Smiths were not always able to travel east to attend ATCA conventions. However, they loved traveling around Europe, where toy-hunting was always at the top of their itinerary.

They formed an enviable collection that includes candy containers, nodders, belsnickles and ornaments; plus a small but fine collection of Easter antiques. Highlights include:

• 18-inch pink antique papier-mache belsnickle
• Big (24 to 26-inch) mechanical Santa Claus nodder
• Erzgebirge mountain with miner figures, under large glass dome
• Tall Santa candy container with beautiful clothing and big brass buttons – “I bought it in 1985 and have kept it all these years. It’s my favorite.”

Bertoia’s Nov. 17-18, 2022 Annual Fall Auction also features a beautiful collection of high-end toy robots including a spectacular Machine Man from Masudaya’s legendary Gang of Five series. It is estimated at $50,000-$75,000.

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