VINELAND, N.J. – Fully aware that Bertoia’s auction series featuring the late Donald Kaufman’s toy collection was nearing its conclusion, bidders were on point and eager to stake their claims at semiannual sale No. 4, held Sept. 24 and 25 at the company’s New Jersey gallery.
“Everyone knew it was the last multiple-day Kaufman sale to be held, but for some, last-minute contingency plans had to be made before they could bid. It’s a good thing the European collectors have become resilient to all natural disasters,” Bertoia Auctions associate Rich Bertoia said with a laugh. “Last spring, right before the third Kaufman sale, cancellations due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland. This time it was the ill-timed French airline strike that put a damper on many people’s travel plans.”
But it takes a lot to come between a collector and the types of rare toys Don Kaufman favored, Bertoia said. “They just shifted gears and made arrangements to bid by phone or the Internet. It reminded me of the movie Against All Odds. It had a happy ending.”
The fourth sale of the series, which contained automotive and comic character toys from a storied collection built over 60 years by the co-founder of KB Toys, grossed $1.6 million (inclusive of 15% buyer’s premium), pushing the cumulative total so far to $10.9 million.
The top lot of the sale was a circa-1925 American National deluxe coupe pedal car with nickel-plated grille, electric headlights and an opening rear trunk. Against an estimate of $30,000-$35,000, it realized $46,000.
Throughout the auction series, there has been no shortage of interest in early pressed-steel vehicles. In addition to the top lot, September’s highlights included a circa-1927 Toledo Buick, 30½ inches long and with a prototype bumper designed to absorb shock with a spring reinforcement. “This toy was never intended for play, and it was an exceptional example,” Bertoia said. Estimated at $15,000-$20,000, it rumbled off to a new owner for $34,500.