VINELAND, N.J. – BERTOIA’S March 23-24 ‘Made to Be Played’ auction, a 1,400-lot offering highlighted by the Grover Van Dexter European tin toy collection, closed the books at an impressive $1.3 million (inclusive of 15% buyer’s premium). An extensive variety of early toys crossed the auction block. A Hubley cast-iron Popeye Patrol depicting the popular cartoon sailor on a motorcycle had been estimated at $10,000-$12,000 and rode off as top lot after hammering $19,550.
“It was a well-attended event, and the phones and Internet were very busy,” said Bertoia Auctions associate Rich Bertoia. “We’ve noticed that with each successive sale there are more and more serious bidders using alternative bidding methods. We’re reached a point with the electronic crowd where they’re 100% trusting of the catalog descriptions. A bidder will call ahead of time and ask, ‘Is this toy really excellent?’ Then after the sale they’ll call me and say it was actually better