Toy world mourns passing of Donald Kaufman


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Donald and Sally Kaufman. Copyright Catherine Saunders-Watson, 2009


PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Donald Kaufman, co-founder of K•B Toys and the man who built the world’s greatest collection of automotive toys, died Oct. 12, 2009, peacefully at his home. He had celebrated his 79th birthday just four days earlier.

Kaufman’s decision to sell his astounding 10,000-piece collection of automotive toys made headlines from The New York Times to cable news networks. He picked Bertoia Auctions of Vineland, N.J., to liquidate the 60-year collection, which was amassed in partnership with his beloved wife, Sally. 

The first auction, held March 19-21, brought in more than $4.2 million. The Kaufmans attended the auction, preview and special events, and Kaufman delivered a brief address to the audience prior to the auction sessions, expressing his wish that everyone in attendance might “go home with the toy [they] wanted.”

The second of what is expected to be several sale sessions was held Sept. 25-26. Rather than donating the collection to a museum, Kaufman said he thought only collectors would care enough about the collection to give its contents the respect it deserved.

“I’m going to sell it back to the collectors who are going to take care of them — they are going to be their prized possessions,” Kaufman said. Sally and Don Kaufman kept the existence of the collection a closely guarded secret for more than 20 years. The collection has no doubles, only variations of specially made toys.



Donald Kaufman, co-founder of K•B Toys and the man who built the world’s greatest collection of automotive toys, devoted his life to celebrating the joy of play. In this exclusive interview with Antique Trader editor Eric Bradley, Kaufman discusses amassing his 60-year collection with his wife Sally and why he decided to sell every single item in his collection – including his very first toy.

CLICK HERE to listen to Antique Trader’s interview of Donald Kaufman podcast.


King of Toys: Donald Kaufman reflects on a lifetime of collecting
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Bertoia Auctions chosen to sell Donald Kaufman collection


Kaufman Sale Session I


‘An event to dream about’
– The Donald Kaufman collection steps into the spotlight March 19-21 at Bertoia’s (preview of Part I of the Kaufman Collection sale)

Bertoia’s breaks own house record with $4.2M Kaufman debut sale


Kaufman Sale Session II

Collectors gear up for chance to get the best toys (preview of Part II of the Kaufman Collection sale)

$149,500 Marklin fire truck tops prices realized at Bertoia’s $3M sale of Kaufman toys, part II

More Images:

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Collecting great Don Kaufman poses with one of his prized pieces - a tin delivery van for Kaufmann's "The Big Store." The clockwork advertising truck delighted Kaufman because his grandfather had a general store and all of his family was in retailing. Photo by Phil Dutton. Courtesy Bertoia Auctions.

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