Large-scale model trains headlining eclectic 500-lot spring auction

CLOSTER, N.J. – Railroading in America may largely be a thing of the past, but at Sterling Associates, Inc. April 27, its going to be in the spotlight once again.

Headlining Sterling’s Spring Auction is an impressive collection of antique and pre-World War II oversize scale-model trains, which was started by a New Jersey man who began collecting the trains in 1936.

GE model train locomotive and tender manufactured by Icken. (Photo courtesy Sterling Associates)

GE model train locomotive and tender manufactured by Icken. (Photo courtesy Sterling Associates)

“This is an exceptional estate collection, unlike anything we’ve seen before,” said Sterling Associates’ owner, Steven D’Atri. “Although Ray Hoelz was an accountant and auditor by profession, he came from a family with close ties to the railroad. His father worked for the Erie Railroad, so that early exposure to trains undoubtedly inspired his interest in collecting toy versions of them. His emphasis seems to have been on acquiring very large, extremely well-detailed trains, which is what collectors love.” All pieces from the collection will be auctioned individually.

The collection consists of more than 60 “third rail” train engines and cars that were either commissioned, purchased or hand-built by the collector. Some of the stand out features of the trains in this collection include:

  • Pullman trains with cars that measure almost two feet in length, some with wooden floors
  • Freight cars with the same type of writing and brand logos you’d see on real trains
  • Trains from the 1930s manufactured by recognizable firms such as Icken, Lobaugh, Westbrook and others
  • Metal trains with engine and chemical cars featuring components that were expertly machined from brass and steel

While this historic collection of model trains is the headliner of this auction, the majority of

Steuben glass sculpture designed by Paul Schulze, titled ‘Totem.’ (Photo courtesy Sterling Associates)

Steuben glass sculpture designed by Paul Schulze, titled ‘Totem.’ (Photo courtesy Sterling Associates)

the 500 lots is comprised of fine, decorative and Asian art, as well as estate jewelry and other antiques. Other much-anticipated feature items include:

  • 2 3/4 carat diamond and platinum engagement ring with matching band
  • Silvered Russian bronze titled “Don Cossacks Crossing the Balkans”
  • Oil-on-canvas landscaping painting depicting a winter scene with horses
  • Pair of Chinese Qianlong famille rose vases, circa 1750
  • American Renaissance Revival walnut cabinet made by Herter
  • Two Wurlitzer 1050 “bubbler” jukeboxes

 

It is structured as a hybrid auction in which previewing is available at the physical gallery, but all bidding is exclusively absentee, by phone or live via the Internet through Artfact or LiveAuctioneers. The sale will be run exactly like a live auction, but without a live audience.

Gallery preview times are 10-5 on April 19 and 20; 10-7 on April 23, and 10-3 on auction day. The gallery is located at 70 Herbert Ave., Closter, NJ 07624. For more information visit www.antiquenj.com or call 201-768-1140. The fully illustrated catalog is available for viewing at www.LiveAuctioneers.com or www.Artfact.com.

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