VINELAND, N.J. – Santa was tops in Bertoia Auctions’ Sept. 21-23 Toybox Treasures sale, cruising to the front lot spot in a Tippco tinplate car. The jaunty circa-1928 tin convertible, profusely decorated with images of toys, teddies and colorful balloons, even toted a revolving Christmas feather tree on its trunk. In his “fur”-trimmed crimson robe and cap, Tippco’s Santa was the perfect grand marshal for the 2,246-lot parade of toys, banks and doorstops to follow, leading prices realized at $28,910. All prices quoted include buyer’s premium.
The event drew a full house of bidders who were kept on their toes by Internet and phone competitors during all three sessions. As the hammer fell on the last lot, the sale total was confirmed at $2,082,000.
Finishing in the second-place slot behind the Tippco Santa car was a circa-1925 Gendron Pioneer Line Packard pedal car. In original condition with a retractable soft cover and rear panel that opens to reveal a rumble seat, the 66-inch-long car was described in the catalog as possibly being the finest known example. Against an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000, it was whisked out of the saleroom for $23,600.
The power of the Marklin name was evidenced by the strong interest in a circa-1910 painted cast-iron accessory lamppost. Its fine details included candle-powered glass globes and ornate Art Nouveau styling. Entered with a $4,000 to $5,000 estimate, the 16 3/4-inch triple lamppost (one globe missing) lit the way to a final phone bid of $21,240.
Another example of Marklin’s fastidious attention to detail was an 11-inch circa-1890s Tilbury coach with wicker-type sides, large spoke wheels and pair of side lamps. In pristine condition, it sped past its $10,000 to $12,000 estimate to settle at $20,060.
Making it a Marklin trifecta, a compound steam engine with intricate nickeled parts led its category at $11,800. Bertoia’s catalog noted that it would have been an expensive item in its day, having an original retail price of $1.75.
The primitive appeal of a George Brown tinplate clockwork paddlewheeler “New York” encouraged a winning bid of $8,850 (estimate $2,000-$3,500). “The lot opened at $1,000, and all the way to the end, there was a triangle of bidding between the phone, floor and an absentee bidder. “Eventually the phone bidder won,” said auctioneer Michael Bertoia, who shared the podium duties with veteran auctioneer Tim Luke.
A selection of figural cast-iron doorstops drew collectors who bid confidently; a 16 1/4-inch Bradley & Hubbard “Whistling Jim” topped the group at an above-estimate $7,080. Another desirable doorstop design by Bradley & Hubbard, a Rooster with finely delineated feathers and realistic detailing to its face, comb and feet, surpassed its high estimate at $4,720.
The cataloged portion of the auction concluded with a fine selection of holiday items, including Christmas belsnickles, Dresden, glass and pressed-cotton ornaments, and a number of early Halloween candy containers and other novelties. A 16-inch-high German Santa on reindeer candy container was a highlight, selling for $5,900. The selection was followed by an uncataloged offering of holiday surprise boxes, which kept many bidders – including members of The Golden Glow of Christmas Past collector club – firmly in their seats till the very end.