Auctions, Mechanical Toys, Pressed Steel, Tin Toys — September 1, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Julia’s Toy and Doll Auction Hits $2 Million

FAIRFIELD, MAINE, JUNE 30-JULY 1, 2010 – Julia’s recent Toy, Doll & Advertising auction was a tremendous success, grossing nearly $2.1 Million! (nearly a half million dollars over a presale estimate of items sold).

The Malcolm Deisenroth collection of early American tin toys was touted as the finest and most significant of its type to ever come to auction (and sales results certainly confirmed that). His collection alone, offered totally unreserved, brought approximately $1.04 Million against expectations of around $870,000.

Topping the list was an exceedingly rare and desirable clockwork Santa and sleigh with goats by Althof Bergmann (ex-Barenholtz Collection and prominently featured in his book). This toy is considered the most significant of all early American toys. There are three examples known; this is considered to be the finest. Featuring the jolly old elf at the reins of his elaborate tin stenciled sleigh driven by two galloping goats, the offering of this historical piece has been the buzz of the toy collecting world for months preceding the
auction. It did not disappoint. Following an enthusiastic drive that narrowed from a handful of serious players to a bidding battle between a phone bidder and a collector in attendance, it went to the gentleman in the auction hall for a phenomenal $161,000 (est. $100,000-200,000). As a result, it is the most expensive American tin toy sold in the last 15+ years!

Over the last 30+ years, Deisenroth amassed an incredible array of early American tin toys. The sale featured an incredible and unprecedented offering of horse drawn clockwork omnibuses to ever come to auction. Seeing one come to auction happens every so often, but to have six from one collection, in one location at one time is absolutely unheard of.

A fanciful example by Bergmann stenciled “Rail Road Omnibus” with japanned horses and its original removable (and typically absent) driver took off like a rocket to $48,875, well beyond its $17,500-27,500 estimate. A brilliant yellow George Brown clockwork omnibus stenciled “Broadway & 5th Avenue” was likewise well received. This bombe style carriage, completed by delicate stenciling and an American eagle and shield, soared to the upper end of its $20,000-40,000 estimate to sell for $37,375.

A truly phenomenal and rare Stevens & Brown Victoria clockwork omnibus consigned from a separate collection lived a most interesting history and journey. Over the years it made its way to India and has recently returned to its country of origin. It, too, neared the better end of its $30,000-40,000 estimate to finish off at $37,950.

Other highlights from the Deisenroth Collection included another unmatched offering, a stellar grouping of tin paddle wheelers and ferryboats. Two similarly styled wide base Bergmann ferryboats, the Columbia and the Niagara sold for $40,250 and $28,175, respectively and each nearing the top of their pre-auction forecast. Bergmann’s America, one of the largest American tin boats ever manufactured and the only known example brought $23,000.

The Deisenroth Collection continued to amaze with a parade of tin platform and bell toys and other fine playthings, many of which boasted provenance to Barenholtz, Perelman, and Hertz or were the very examples used in their books. An American tin equestrian platform pull toy attributed to Bergmann that featured three animated horseback riders was a rarity among rarities. To have two figures is considered scarce, but to have three is in the league of hen’s teeth. Estimated to bring $10,000-30,000, it crossed the finish line at $26,450.

An articulated horse drawn girl on platform bell toy attributed to Merriam was a rare combination of tin and cast iron. A hollow bodied tin prancing horse pulls a girl striking a large bell suspended above an iron grillwork. This marvelous piece sold for $20,987 against
expectations of $15,000-25,000.

Other tin included a large and rare tin “Pegasus” locomotive attributed to Stevens & Brown. What is unusual about this piece was its articulated driver who rocks and rings the bell as the toy is propelled forward. Collectors were all aboard this rarity. One of two known, it pulled into its $30,000-50,000 estimate to sell for $37,375.

A scarce and marvelous George Brown clockwork hoop toy in which the central figure carries an American flag and stands between two offset wire wheels sold for $21,275 within a presale estimate of $15,000-25,000.

Deisenroth’s interest in toys included a number of fire related toys. A favorite and the most famous of all early American tin toys was the Bergmann clockwork tin fire pumper. The very fire pumper gracing the cover of Bernard Barenholtz’s renowned book “American Antique Toys 1830-1900”, this clockwork piece with large tin boiler, full bodied horses, and charming figures changed hands at $26,450.

An enchanting small hose reel pull toy by Bergmann, formerly of the Louis Hertz Collection that was emblazoned with gold japanned lions and affixed with a small bell approached the midpoint of its $10,000-20,000 estimate to sell for $14,375.

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