VINELAND, N.J. – Bertoia Auctions’ May 3-4 ‘Toy Picks’ auction features the pick of the crop in dozens of popular collecting categories. In addition to a vast array of vehicles, European clockwork toys and comic character favorites, the sale lineup also includes dollhouses and miniatures; trains, steam engines, banks and Part I of the late Bill Bertoia’s superb collection of occupational shaving mugs, which will be auctioned during the second session.
The late Bill Bertoia (1950-2003) was a leading light and indisputable expert in the field of antique toys and cast-iron banks, but few realized he was an advanced collector of occupational shaving mugs.
Although Bill’s mug collection would have been welcomed at any major American art museum, it was never publicly exhibited. A very personal collection amassed over a 15-year period, it was displayed with pride in the antique-filled home Bill shared with his wife, Jeanne, and children Michael and Lauren.
On Saturday, May 4, Bertoia’s will auction Part I of Bill’s shaving mug collection. Approximately 50 mugs will be offered, ranging from pristine examples of more-common mugs – conservatively estimated at $100-$200 – to rare, highly desirable mugs in the $5,000 range.
Bertoia Auctions co-founder and owner Jeanne Bertoia said her late husband regarded shaving mugs as “one of the greatest forms of Americana…He was fascinated by the hand-painted images of various occupations, many of which no longer existed.”
Jeanne recalled that no matter what he collected, Bill was a stickler for quality, condition and originality. “He was very particular when buying toys and banks, and he took the same approach with his mugs. He especially liked mugs with images of people engaged in their work, and hand-applied details, like gilt trim and a person’s name,” Jeanne said.
Every mug in Bill’s collection was a source of enjoyment to Bill, but he had a few special favorites, Jeanne said. “He was very proud of his mug that showed a stockbroker with ticker tape (est. $2,500-$4,000), but I think he was most excited with the mug he bought at an auction in South Jersey that has an image of a distinguished man in a derby hat, walking two very grand Boston terriers ($2,000-$3,000).”
Bill Bertoia’s occupational shaving mug collection covers a broad variety of themes: automotive, horse-drawn, nautical, storefronts, sports. Some of the more unusual mugs include: lunch wagon, $3,500-$5,000; clothing store, $800-$1,200; barrel stake truck, $1,000-$2,000; chefs at work in a busy kitchen, $1,000-$1,500; marble arch cutter, $1,000-$1,500; dump truck, $1,000-$2,000; delivery wagon builder, $800-$1,200; and horse-drawn hearse with open curtain. $800-$1,200.
German and French wind-up toys will keep the keys busy during Bertoia’s preview. An outstanding collection of Lehmanns, many of them boxed, has been consigned by a longtime Bertoia Auctions customer. “Quality and condition are evident throughout this collection,” said Bertoia’s auctioneer, Michael Bertoia. “The owner always stepped up to the plate to pay the price for the best examples.”
The Lehmann collection includes many autos, including a rare, yellow 12-inch Baldur; two motorcycles – a boxed Echo and a Halloh with litho’d box lid – a Heavy Swell, Ski Rolf and Ikarus. A boxed Masuyama and an equally desirable Man-Da-Rin with its rare and beautifully lithographed original box also occupy top slots in the collection.
Alongside the Lehmanns are several scarce French-made Martins, including a Gendarme and a Parisian gentleman in top hat with cane and cigar. “This is only the second time we’ve seen this particular toy,” said Michael Bertoia, referring to the wind-up gentleman.
Forty European penny toys are entered in the sale, with themes that cross several categories, including transportation and people. Among the colorful tin novelties to be auctioned are a double Irish mail cart, sledding boy, skier and Chinese man with parasol.
Several impressive toy boats will sail toward new harbors on auction day. Among the coveted Marklins are a restored 46-inch first-series Battleship Maine, a second smaller-size (32-inch) first-series Battleship Maine in all-original condition, and an especially attractive 20-inch first-series Battleship Sperber. Additionally, Bertoia’s fleet includes several other battleships, cruisers and boats by Carette and Fleishmann.
Early hand-painted cars include an all-original red Alfa-Romeo No. 2 racer by CIJ, a yellow 4-door Marklin Torpedo open car, and a Bing steam-driven Spyder. Around 10 other French automobiles by Citroen and JEP also join the auction selection. Other European toys include two exquisite Ferris wheels attributed to Doll et Cie.
The auction also features the Tom Palumbo pressed steel collection, comprising 40 to 50 vehicles primarily by Sturditoy. “What makes this collection so attractive is the fact that the toys are 100 percent original,” Michael Bertoia noted.
The large assortment of European and American trains and accessories includes both live steam and clockwork examples. Leading the group are a very early Volt-Amp loco and tender; a gauge 1 Marklin 1021 steam-outline loco and tender with cast-iron frame, a Carlisle & Finch suspension bridge, and many Marklin trains and cars. Of special note are Marklin’s gauge 1 Pabst Blue Ribbon and Schlitz advertising cars, and a well-detailed chicken transport car with functional cage doors. Rounding out the railroad bounty are productions by Bing, Schonner, Carette and Knapp; as well as a train station by Marklin.
Between 80 and 100 cast-iron banks will be waiting to show off their tricks. Standouts include a circa-1889 Kyser & Rex mechanical Globe Savings Fund bank, a Lighthouse and Girl in Victorian Chair (both semi-mechanicals); and several excellent still banks – a small Boston Statehouse, Ives Palace and rare Arcade Eggman.
Bertoia’s is known for offering fine figural cast-iron doorstops, all personally vetted by Jeanne Bertoia, a renowned doorstop authority. The selection Jeanne has prepared for the May auction incorporates florals, people, animals, houses and whimsical shapes. A few Fish designs are included, e.g., a Deco Messenger and Rhumba Dancer. Also in the mix are clowns, a Rabbit Pushing a Wheelbarrow, and a Lobster.
Cast-iron automotive collectors will find many excellent racers, motorcycles, taxis and work vehicles waiting to exit Bertoia’s garage. Around 40 horse-drawn cast-iron toys have been consigned, as well. Three Dent productions – a fire engine, horse carriage and hook & ladder – exhibit near-mint condition and are believed to have been originally purchased at the Dent toy factory by legendary collector the late Covert Hegarty.
Just in time for spring cleaning and redecorating, Bertoia’s sale features 65 lots of miniature furniture, including designs from Gottschalk and Rock & Graner; plus 20 upscale dollhouses and room boxes, most by top German makers.
Approximately 150 country store and advertising items add early American charm to the auction list. There are several salesmen’s samples, around 20 glass showcases, advertising signs, apothecary jars, and tea and coffee bins.
Bertoia’s Toy Picks Auction will begin at 12 noon on Friday, May 3; and 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, 2013. All forms of bidding will be available, including absentee, by phone or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com. To contact Bertoia Auctions call 856-692-1881; firstname.lastname@example.org. Online: www.BertoiaAuctions.com.