VINELAND, N.J. – Collectors are counting the days till Bertoia Auctions lifts the lid on its 2,000-lot Sept. 21-23 Toybox Treasures sale. From German tin windups and trains to cast-iron automotive, steam engines and pressed steel, this big three-day sale covers the entire spectrum of American and European toy production.
One of the sale’s anchor collections is that of the late Paul Ingersoll and his wife, Mimi. Bertoia Auctions associate Rich Bertoia described Paul as “a very popular collector and dealer who was very recognizable at East Coast auctions.” As the Ingersoll collection attests, Paul had a great eye for European autos and trains, as well as papier-mache and American tin toys.
Those who visited the Ingersolls’ Philadelphia home were left with an indelible impression. “Paul and Mimi loved displaying their toys as though they were decorative art. In their home it was impossible to focus on just one piece. Your eye would want to look all over,” said Bertoia. “There were early gameboards, antique cars, Christmas items, European aviation toys and nearly 100 trains. It was a treat to behold.”
The Ingersoll toys form a perfect partnership with the second headliner in the sale: a private collection of fine tinplate autos and magnificent trains and train stations.
The Friday, Sept. 21 session consists of cast-iron autos and a small selection of horse-drawn cast-iron toys, which then lead into mechanical and still banks, a very nice mix of cast-iron doorstops, and American tin toys.
The cast-iron toys are from a collector who was very particular about condition. “He collected according to how wet the paint was,” Bertoia said with a laugh, referring to the factory-fresh condition exhibited by many of the pieces. “This collector came into the hobby at a time when super-mint, like-new cast-iron toys were still available. His collection includes a very rare Arcade Checker Cab, a Hubley ‘Truk Mixer,’ and some classics from the Donald Kaufman collection – a Wilkens boat and Kenton coal truck.”
A small but very nice grouping of mechanical banks includes well-preserved examples of a Chief Big Moon, Magic bank (Ingersoll collection), Jumbo on Wheels, Nanny, and Bulldog Snapping. George Brown-type cottages are prized among the still banks.
The cast-iron section continues with an important figural doorstop collection. Featured pieces include a Bradley & Hubbard Whistling Jim, large full-figured Bear Holding Honey, large Bradley & Hubbard Owl, and several Art Deco Fish designs.
A beautiful array of American tin toys completes the Friday session. Highlights include a Fallows Fancy Notions van, an Express Wagon, Balancing Horse, Ives Rower and a very special little New York Paddlewheeler.
Saturday serves as a daylong showcase for the Ingersoll collection and begins with early French and German luxury autos and limos. Next up are fine trains. Several Marklins in large 1 gauge dominate the selection, together with a Marklin glass-canopied station, bridges, lamps and a fantastic array of deluxe accessories.
A fleet of boats from various consignors includes several rare and outstanding craft from the Ingersoll collection, such as a French-made Lefevre boat and three Bing productions: a liner, steam paddlewheeler and tugboat.
It will then be time for limos, early touring cars, coaches and carriages; and a small grouping of Paul Ingersoll’s biscuit tins. A Lefevre-Utile “LU” Tramway biscuit tin is appropriately accompanied by a Lefevre-Utile poster (from a different consignor) that depicts the actual tramway. The heart of the sale’s European character toys is formed by collector favorites from Martin and Lehmann (many boxed), two Santa cars with teddy bears, and French bisque dolls on cycles.
The Saturday session continues with part II of the 80-piece Klaus Grutzka steam engine collection, including a large dual-flywheel Marklin with dynamo, a very large-scale vertical boiler and other oversize machinist’s models. After the steam clears, it will be time for comic character toys. A parade of Disney Mickey Mouse toys will march shoulder to shoulder with Popeye favorites like Heavy Hitter and Brutus Dippy Dumper.
Around 100 different pressed-steel toys will close out day two, with choice vehicles by Buddy ‘L,’ Keystone, Structo and other top companies. A natural follow-up is the diverse grouping of pedal vehicles that shows off some of the best Gendron Packard productions ever to cruise into Bertoia’s gallery.
The Sunday, Sept. 23 session also features Schoenhut figures and wagons; 30+ games and a very special collection of 50 teddy bears and 50 teddy “go-alongs.” There are teddy-theme children’s books, Black Forest items; and teddy china and pottery. The centerpiece of this highly refined collection is the 8 or 9 original bear-theme drawings and sketches by Clifford Kennedy Berryman (American, 1869-1949), legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Washington Star.
“Many consider Berryman the most important illustrator and political cartoonist of our time. He’s best known as the artist who inspired the Teddy Roosevelt bear craze when he drew a series of Presidential cartoons featuring bears,” said Rich Bertoia. “The artworks in our sale are not just for teddy bear collectors; they’re also for fine art collectors.”
Paul Ingersoll’s skittles collection is next, followed by a colorful spread of Halloween antiques. There are jack-o-lanterns of many forms, hand-painted composition veggie people, and animal figures that were probably used as Halloween and Easter decorations. The Christmas spirit will be felt throughout the gallery as Bertoia’s presents belsnickles, Dresdens, annealed glass ornaments and wonderful display items, such as an Elastolin 4-tier Christmas pyramid table centerpiece.
The auction concludes with everyone’s favorite: holiday box lots available only to bidders in the room. “We call them surprise boxes, and they’re very popular with our regular customers,” said Bertoia’s owner, Jeanne Bertoia. “The boxes might contain die-cuts, ornaments of glass, scrap, tinsel or celluloid; putz villages, Santa figures – you name it. People actually wait to the end just to bid on these boxes, which we put together with great care and thought, as though we were filling Christmas stockings.”
Bertoia’s Toybox Treasures auction will start at 12 noon on Friday, Sept. 21; 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22; and 10 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. To contact Bertoia Auctions call 856-692-1881 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Bertoia’s online at www.BertoiaAuctions.com.