Auctions, Cast Iron, Pressed Steel, Tin Toys — August 1, 2011 at 12:08 am

A Retrospective: The Donald Kaufman Collection at Bertoia Auctions

DONALD KAUFMAN (1930-2009) didn’t collect toys with a finish line as the objective. He relished every moment of the nearly six-decade journey he embarked upon in 1950 with the $4 purchase of an Arcade Red Baby truck. The same passion for automotive forms that had been ignited in him as a young man selling automobiles “off the curbstone” seemed to follow through to his toy-vehicle collecting. He never lost his fascination for toys, no matter how many he owned. He was endlessly motivated to locate that rare or unknown color variation he felt certain existed somewhere.

A particular “m.o.” developed organically as Don’s new hobby grew to become a pleasantly consuming avocation. He would accept no obstacles in the pursuit of a toy. As one would expect of the co-founder of K-B Toys, Don was a sharp businessman; he knew how to win. If he wanted a toy, he would find a way to get it – but always in an honorable way.

Once in Don’s hands, each new acquisition would be studied, then positioned in just the right spot in the vast wing of his home specifically built to house his collection.

“He would look at that toy and think about the history,” said Sally Kaufman, Don’s wife and collecting partner of 20 years. “He thought about what it was made of, the design, the people who made it. He would hold it and say, ‘If only it could talk. I wonder
who held it. I wonder how much joy this toy brought to kids.’”

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