Bertoia’s ‘Happy Holiday Sale’ set for Nov. 9-11

VINELAND, N.J. – When it comes to the world of antique toy auctions, there is one name that usually is the first on the lips of most collectors: Bertoia.

bertoia_1.jpgFor more than 20 years, Bertoia Auctions has been synonymous with great old toys. Jeanne Bertoia now runs the business started by her late husband with the same passion and commitment that put the firm on top in the mid-1980s and has kept it there ever since.

“I have to give all the credit to my husband, Bill,” Jeanne said. “He started more than 30 years ago collecting toys as a hobby and it quickly became a business.”

bertoia_4.jpgBertoia is known for offering landmark collections of pre-1942 toys. The tradition continues on Nov. 9-11, 2007 in the form of its “Happy Holiday Sale,” with nearly 2,000 lots including rare examples of European and American toys, dolls and assorted holiday items. The sale contains examples from a few of the finest private collections known, including nearly 150 dolls and doll-related items; more than 300 holiday items from the Fred Cannon collection; nearly 100 European toy autos from the Ken Hutchinson collection; and nearly 75 boats from the Arnold Rolak collection.

bertoia_5.jpgAlso included in the sale are more than 100 early games from the famed Flora Gill Jacobs archives of collected treasures, more than 100 mechanical banks, more than 200 still banks, 200-plus cast-iron toys from all fields, more than 100 doorstops, and a host of tin toys spanning almost every form made with a wind-up action.

There are, in fact, so many good examples that what is not on the block next month will be part of Bertoia’s spring sale in April 2008.
From the collection of Ken Hutchinson, a line-up of very desirable French autos, trucks, and luxury limousines.

There is an important aspect to the sales that Bertoia puts on that is easy to overlook in today’s market, which is so focused on prices and potential values: the deep creative component to the toys the house offers.

“I view antique toys as art,” says Jeanne. “There’s a real beauty to them.”

Jeanne’s attitude is evident in the mix of themes featured in the “Happy Holidays Sale.” bertoia_8.jpgThere are plenty of Christmas-related toys, but it is the enduring aesthetic value that elevates them beyond the realm of simply being great gifts or valuable toys.

The Grand Finale, this three-day sale concludes with incredible Dresdens, rare Santa figures, clockwork reindeers and more from the Fred Cannon collection.

When taken in context, and as material culture directly relevant to the time in which they were created, these great antiques toys do truly take on a life of their own, one that outlives the time of their creation. This imbues the pieces with a kind of magic and inspires passion in collectors.

bertoia_2.jpg“The hobby’s alive and well because of great collections like this,” Jeanne said, “and because of great auctions like this.”

Dolls, dollhouses, accessories, sleighs and Steiff start off this three-day event.

For this sale, with so many good examples on the block, Jeanne won’t say for sure if there’s going to be a bona fide star, but she does have a few ideas.

“It’s always hard to gauge,” she said, “but there’s a wonderful Uncle Sam doorstop that’s the very best ever to come to the market, and it’s in great condition. There’s also a fabulous full miniature barbershop in beautiful condition. Either of these could easily go for huge numbers.”

Will they, however, rival the excitement of the 1998 sale of an Old Woman in the Shoe mechanical bank that brought $426,000?bertoia_7.jpg We’ll have to see in a few weeks.

Cast iron diversity for a
multitude of collectors.

If you cannot make it to New Jersey for the sale, but still want to bid on one of the great examples, then you can check out the Bertoia Web site – – or log on to or eBay during the auction to bid live. The full color catalog is available now for $45.

The Nov. 9 session starts at 1 p.m.; the Nov. 10 session at 9 a.m.; and on Nov. 11 selling starts at 10 a.m. Previews start the entire week of Nov. 5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Nov. 10 and 11 at 8 a.m. Special viewing times are available upon request

For more information, call 856-692-1881, or go online to