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Marklin limousine makes rare auction appearance

A seldom-seen clockwork toy limousine is among the highlights of the more than 1,100 lots featured in Bertoia Auctions’ Spring Signature Sale, scheduled for April 27-28.

VINELAND, N.J. – More than 1,000 lots of high-quality toys, banks, trains and dolls have been selected for Bertoia Auctions’ April 27-28 Spring Signature Sale. Most of the items are from prestigious, long-held collections; now the coveted antiques are coming to the auction marketplace.

The April 27 session starts with European toys, autos, motorcycles and airplanes. Also among the features are German lithographed-tin wind-up Lehmanns. In addition, Part II of a superlative collection of French-made Martin clockwork toys are up for bid. All rate very highly for rarity and condition.

Marklin Limo Leads Early Session


Clockwork Marklin auto with real glass windshield, detailed luggage rack on its roof, four large nickel headlamps, carries an estimate of $12,000 to $24,000 into the auction. (All photos courtesy Bertoia Auctions)

Highlighting the Friday session is an 11-inch Marklin limousine. “Marklin didn’t make very many automotive toys, so this one is a true rarity,” said Jeanne Bertoia, owner of Bertoia Auctions. Another top lot from day one is a pristine clockwork robot called Tremendous Mike. In near-mint condition and accompanied by its original box, the Japanese postwar classic is expected to make $6,000 to $9,000. There will also be many fine European motorcycles from a private collection, among them a very rare M&K lithographed single-cylinder bike estimated at $4,000-$6,000.

The 55-lot array of clockwork characters by Fernand Martin was selectively acquired over a 60-year period by a New York collector. It is the second half of a collection Jeanne described as “one of the best Martin collections we’ve ever seen.” Its prized contents include a Performing Monkey, Barber, Washerwoman, Cakewalk, Diablo, Man with Barrels, Drunkard, Chef, The Perfect Fisherman, and Man Sweeping Floor. A possible one-of-a-kind piece is the circa-1892 Le Cherif depicting a Middle Eastern man riding a camel. “We’ve never seen another example of the toy,” Jeanne noted.

An extensive assortment of Popeye toys follows the cartoon sailor’s adventures through a variety of pursuits. There’s a Linemar Popeye Pilot Air-O-Plane, which is one of the rarest of all 1950s Japanese Popeye toys; as well as a 1958 remote battery-operated Popeye in a Rowboat.

Santa Figures Make An Appearance

The April 28 session will open with holiday antiques, to include Santa figures, Santas in reindeer-drawn sleighs, and large clockwork nodding Santas, including a St. Nicholas with porcelain head, riding a magnificent dapple horse. The well-sculpted equine is actually a candy container and has a removable head for accessing sweets ($7,000-$9,000).

Also ready for the spotlight is Part I of Ed and Nan Wagoner’s collection of Palmer Cox Brownies. Considered one of the great, old collections, it includes Brownie candy containers and many other types of novelties. An 1895 Brownie Halloween nodder – which would be just as desirable to a Halloween collector as a Brownie collector – depicts one of the whimsical sprites as a veggie man with extended legs ($800-$1,200).

Heavy metal will roll into the gallery, starting with 200 lots of pressed-steel toys and pedal cars. An overview of highlights includes a Kingsbury Little Jim fire truck and a number of top Buddy ‘L’ productions, including a passenger bus, boxed Sheffield Farms dairy truck, and Buddy ‘L’ Junior milk delivery van. Additionally, an impressive Gendron Buick will set the pace for the fleet of pedal cars.

Cast-Iron Toys Sure to Captivate

Painted tin fire pumper

Althof Bergmann horse-drawn, painted tin fire pumper, American, circa 1874, $3,500-$5,500.

Both horse-drawn and automotive cast-iron toys will be auctioned, including many rare examples. A near-mint Hubley HFD hook and ladder was formerly in the Bob Brady collection. Other Hubleys sure to attract attention are a boxed 12-cylinder racecar in flawless condition on par with old store stock, and a very scarce Surfer Girl.

Next up will be cast-iron mechanical banks, doorstops, and approximately a dozen cast-iron cigar cutters and tobacciana accessories, including a coin-operated match machine. This boutique collection leads to an outstanding assemblage of mechanical banks, including a pristine Acrobat, a Perfection Registering, and one of the most historically important of all cast-iron mechanicals: A Freedman’s Bank. Of museum quality, this exceptional bank should finish in the six-figure range. In the still bank section, all eyes will be on an Ives Palace and an 1865 brass pattern for the rare bank.

The auction will close with an array of figural cast-iron doorstops personally curated by Jeanne Bertoia. The list covers animal, human and architectural forms, with a few of the stand-outs being: Bradley & Hubbard’s Whistling Jim, Turkey, Rabbit, and Squirrel doorstops; and a rare Spencer Swan & Rooster. Furthermore, a Hubley full-figure Giraffe rounds out the menagerie.

Available bidding forms include absentee, phone or live via the internet through Contact Bertoia Auctions at 856-692-1881 or Additional details can be found at

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