VINELAND, N.J. – An enthusiastic gallery of bidders brought their “A” game to Bertoia’s May 3-4 Toy Picks auction, vying for toys, trains, dollhouses and banks presented alongside the sale’s special highlight: Part I of the late Bill Bertoia’s personal collection of antique occupational shaving mugs.
The auction totaled $1.5 million, led by a circa-1902 first-series Marklin Battleship Maine that realized $64,900 (all prices quoted are inclusive of 15 percent buyer’s premium).
The 30 1/2-inch-long tinplate clockwork ship was an “attic find in virtually unplayed-with condition,” said Bertoia Auctions associate Rich Bertoia. More than a century after its production, the hand-painted beauty still had its original masts, rails, two lifeboats and multiple guns. “Collectors want originality and condition right along with rarity. This boat covered all three bases, which is why it easily reached the high end of its estimate range,” Bertoia said.
A possible prototype that garnered ringside attention at the preview was an early mechanical toy with movable metal boxers. The toy consisted of a well-constructed metal on wood boxing ring with side levers to activate the figures and prompt punching motions. Unmarked and of unknown origin, it was the first toy of its type ever to pass through Bertoia’s doors. It sold for $2,360.
The centerpiece of the sale was Part I of the Bill Bertoia collection of antique occupational shaving mugs. Graded and cataloged by Keith Estep, author of “The Best of Shaving Mugs,” outstanding prices were achieved across the board, including $15,300 for a mug depicting a stockbroker beside a ticker tape machine (estimate $2,500-$4,000).
A mug with the image of a rent collector in the doorway of a red brick house reached $14,600 (estimate $1,500-$3,000); an example with a detailed color illustration of an old-fashioned “Quick Lunch” wagon took in $7,000 (estimate $3,500-$5,000); and a mug featuring a well-dressed gentleman with two Boston bulldogs sold for $8,200 (estimate $2,000-$3,000).
For more information, contact Bertoia Auctions at 856-692-1881 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.BertoiaAuctions.com.