Bertoia’s March 23-24 ‘Made to Be Played’ toy auction finishes at $1.3M

May 8th, 2012 by

Hubley Popeye Patrol cast-iron motorcycle toy, $19,550. Bertoia Auctions image.

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 than described.”


Marklin rolling steam engine with foldable stack, double flywheel, other desirable details, $8,050. Bertoia Auctions image.

The aforementioned Popeye on Motorcycle had an association with Bertoia’s that went way back, Rich Bertoia said. “My brother Bill bought that toy years ago after visiting the Hubley showroom in New York. It was a big deal for a small company like Hubley (of Lancaster, Pa.) to make it to the big trade show. Bill resold the toy, which was in unplayed-with condition, to collector Bob Brady. In turn, Bob sold it at auction a few years ago. The person who bought it at that particular auction, consigned it to our March 23-24 sale.”


Before the auction, Rich Bertoia was asked how he thought the toy would fare. “I said that cast iron has made a comeback, that there are a few more collectors in the mix now, and that you won’t find another one in that condition,” Bertoia said. “It ended up nearly doubling its low estimate at $19,550.”


Steam toys from the collection of the late Klaus Grutzka, who taught art at the prestigious Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., put in a strong performance. A fine Marklin rolling steam engine with foldable stack, double flywheel and other nice details topped the steam-toy group at $8,050.


Lehmann ‘Coco’ weighted-string pull toy, German, with original box, $8,625. Bertoia Auctions image.

There was interest from both sides of the Atlantic in European tin toys from the personal collection of Grover Van Dexter, who owned a legendary Greenwich village toy shop called Second Childhood. Van Dexter’s shop – like his personal collection – was laden with rare Lehmanns and Martins.


Van Dexter’s Lehmann Coco, a weighted-string pull toy that depicts an African native climbing a palm tree to retrieve a coconut, not only retained its paper tree leaves but also its rare pictorial box. Estimated at $1,500-$1,800, it was bid to $8,625.


A French Fernand Martin wind-up toy depicting an English soldier was made of tin and outfitted in a cloth uniform with metal helmet and gun. An unquestionably rare toy, it soared to $6,325 against an estimate of $1,000-$1,200.


Deep Sea Diver lithographed tinplate wind-up toy, German, $5,750. Bertoia Auctions image.

Collectors love oddities, Bertoia said, and that described the German-made tinplate Deep Sea Diver of unknown manufacture. Examples of this nicely detailed tin-litho character in a primitive diving suit and domed helmet seldom appear at auction. Against an estimate of $1,200-$1,500, it claimed a winning bid of $5,750.


Depicting a character from the early newspaper comic strip “Toonerville Folks,” a Powerful Katrinka wind-up toy by Nifty swept past its $900-$1,100 estimate to realize $2,588.


“This is the type of toy that keeps comic character buyers interested. There were fewer Powerful Katrinkas made than other comic character toys. When one of them comes out of the woodwork, it gives the market a bump,” Bertoia said. “The Toonerville toys had more of a regional than national distribution. The comic strip had a rural theme, so the toys were only sent to certain pockets of the country. As a result, the toys are rare.”


Hand-painted spelter Santa Claus still bank, German, $8,625. Bertoia Auctions image.

A selection of antique still and mechanical banks – many in superior condition – was led by a hand-painted spelter bank depicting Santa Claus with a staff in one hand and a bag slung over his shoulder. Prices for spelter banks have continued to escalate, as the Santa bank proved when it sold for $8,625 against an estimate of $1,000-$1,500.


Perhaps the most unusual entry in the auction was a cast-iron figural hand, painted red and weighing more than 100 lbs. The 32-inch-tall trade sign was originally a display piece in a York, Pa., glove factory. Bertoia said he had seen only one other like it, in an Architectural Digest spread of several years ago. Bertoia’s sold the example in their sale for $6,325 – more than six times its high estimate.


Hubley Parlour Maid figural cast-iron doorstop, designed by Anne Fish, $5,463. Bertoia Auctions image.

Bertoia’s is known for its record prices on figural cast-iron doorstops, a collecting category in which Bertoia’s owner, Jeanne Bertoia, is an acknowledged expert.


“In this sale we included the complete range of Hubley Art Deco doorstops designed by Anne Fish, a popular English cartoonist and illustrator in the 1920s,” said Jeanne Bertoia. “Each was in beautiful condition. The Parlour Maid, which depicts a French maid serving cocktails, was in even better condition than the book example.” Estimated at $1,800-$2,500, the Parlour Maid achieved a top bid of $5,463.


Bertoia’s will present its annual Fall Sale on Sept. 21-22. On Nov. 10, the company will auction part II of the Dick Claus collection of nautical toys and boats. To contact Bertoia Auctions, call 856-692-1881 or e-mail Visit Bertoia’s online at

Rago Arts and Auction Center – Fine Art Auctions

May 4th, 2012 by

19th/20th C. American & European Art, 10 a.m.
The Reingold Collection (following 19th/20th C. Art)
Post-War & Contemporary Art, 2:30 p.m.


Ivey – Selkirk – Auctioneers & Appraisers

May 4th, 2012 by

The last day to consign for these auctions is May 9th


Sotheby’s London – Old Master & British Paintings

May 4th, 2012 by

View sale results online at


Sotheby’s – Art History

May 4th, 2012 by

The Scream sells for auction record







Sotheby’s London – Impressionist & Modern Art Sales

May 2nd, 2012 by

In 1958, Sotheby’s pioneered the modern auction market with the sale of The Goldschmidt Collection, the first evening auction of Impressionist & Modern Art. Since this landmark auction, Sotheby’s has offered the finest European paintings, sculptures and works on paper from the 19th century to beyond the post–Second World War period. Sales typically include masterworks by artists such as Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Gustav Klimt, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent van Gogh.

Sotheby’s international team features internationally recognised specialists whose tenure and experience is unmatched by those at any other firm and includes former museum curators and dealers. Our specialists work in tandem with their colleagues around the world to source the most compelling works for our high-profile auctions and deliver strong returns to consignors. Their efforts and passion have attracted buyers from more than 60 countries to our recent sales, resulting in record prices and historic sales, including two prices in excess of $100 million.

Sotheby’s London – From the Collection of Prince and Princess Henry De la Tour d’ Auvergne Lauraguais

May 2nd, 2012 by

The history of the de La Tour d’Auvergne Lauraguais family is a long and distinguished one. Related by marriage to the noblest dynasties in France, it is one of only six families (alongside the houses of Savoie, Lorraine, Grimaldi, Rohan and La Tremoille) to be granted the rights and privileges accorded to foreign princes.

The collection of Prince and Princess Henry de La Tour d’Auvergne Lauraguais includes a breadth of items, from very fine Neo-classical and Empire furniture, headlined by a magnificent gilt-bronze mounted amaranth and tulipwood secrétaire by Joseph, circa 1770, to the finest collection of 18th century scagliola to appear at auction.

A selection of other items integral to the daily lives of this great aristocratic family include: porcelain, silver, glass, linen, jewellery, clocks, objets de vertu and paintings and in addition, medals, orders and Cardinal’s regalia.

Session Two presents the important collection of books, manuscripts and livres d’artistes, including books from the library at Château de Rochecotte of celebrated designer and architect Emilio Terry (1890- 1969), maternal uncle and mentor of Prince Henry.

Sotheby’s London – British & Irish Art

May 2nd, 2012 by

On May 10th, Sotheby’s new sale of British & Irish Art will take place in London with dedicated sections for Victorian, Early 20th Century, Sporting & Marine, Scottish and Irish Art. The sale has brought together an outstanding collection of drawings, watercolours, oil paintings and sculpture that celebrates the distinct character of British and Irish art. We hope this fresh approach will both answer the demand of new buyers who collect across a variety of genres and engage collectors worldwide.


Each section features superb examples, with sale highlights including John O’Connor’s dramatic London view, Ludgate, Evening (lot 4), Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s powerful and passionate Joan of Arc (lot 11), Arthur Hughes’ The Birthday Picnic (lot 17), a portrait commission that displays the artist at his most original and accomplished, and Edmund Blair Leighton’s monumental God Speed (lot 26). Sir Alfred Munnings leads the Early 20th Century and Sporting sections with Somwhere the Sun is Shining (lot 54) and Portrait of William Waldorf, 2nd Viscount Astor on Bill’s Simondale II (lot 82). Scottish Art is strongly represented by the Colourists, led by Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell’s modern masterpiece, The Red Fan (lot 106), alongside fine examples by traditional and contemporary artists. Sir William Orpen’s stunning Portrait of Rose, Fourth Marchioness of Headfort (lot 136), with its pendant Geoffrey, Fourth Marquis of Headfort (lot 137), recall an enduring love-story that captivated Edwardian Britain, emerging here on the market for the first time. Further Irish highlights include paintings by Jack Butler Yeats, Louis le Brocquy and Roderic O’Conor amongst a broad offering of works featuring the best of past and contemporary artists.

Fifth Annual Old York Antiques Show

April 30th, 2012 by





















































































Sotheby’s London – Old Master & British Paintings

April 27th, 2012 by

Highlighting the Flemish pictures in this year’s mid-season sale of Old Master and British pictures are a restituted depiction of St. Christopher and the Christ child by the Master of Frankfurt, a finely preserved and typical Wedding Feast by Hieronymous Francken and a beautiful pair of river landscapes by Theobald Michau. There is a host of Italian paintings from four centuries, including a fascinating Deposition by an unknown seventeenth century Genoese painter and a number of interesting religious panels from the early 16th century such as the Sienese Giorgio di Giovanni’s Madonna and child with saints. Two single-owner groups of landscapes anchor the Dutch section, while there is a particularly large selection of British marine and sporting art, including works by Brooking, Swaine, Huggins and Whitcombe.