Ives tin rocking horse toy rides ahead of the rest at Bertoia's 'feverish' toy auction

Collectors in a quest to find rare antique toys in superior condition struck gold at Bertoia's November 11-12 Toys on World Tour auction, which realized $1,550,000.

The 1,502-lot sale was very well attended, with phone bidders keeping Bertoia's staff members constantly engaged. Internet bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com played a major role in the auction's success, as well.

Cast-iron toys proved to be a category with resiliency, as evidenced by the setting of several world auction records.

"I would say that at this auction cast iron was not only back, but back to the future. That's how strong it was," said Bertoia Auctions associate Rich Bertoia.

"The Donald Kaufman auction series, which grossed over twelve million dollars, seems to have reignited the fever of collecting cast iron. We even saw a few new players at the sale."

Ives cloth dressed man tin rocking horse toy
Ives cloth-dressed man on tin rocking horse toy

A circa-1932 Arcade cast-iron rendition of a Mack dump truck in bright red and yellow, came with provenance from the respected Larry Sieber collection, considered the finest known specimen of its type, the 9-inch, near-mint truck claimed the top spot in its category at $17,250.

Having passed through Bertoia's gallery before, during the Kaufman series, a 17-inch Kenton cast-iron "Speed" truck painted green with a stake-side open body toppled its previous auction price to sell for $12,650 against an estimate of $6,000-$7,500.

"There were many other pieces from both the Don Kaufman and Dick Ford collections that followed that same pattern, selling for much more than they had in recent auctions. They still had their previous Bertoia tags on them," Rich Bertoia noted.

Marklin Avalanche tinplate clockwork gunboat toy
Marklin Avalanche tinplate clockwork gunboat toy

Another surprise was the buoyant prices achieved by German clockwork tin boats. "Normally in a single auction we don't get as many all-original or nearly all-original boats of such outstanding quality, but it happened this time," said Bertoia.

The top lot of the sale, an exceptionally well-scaled Marklin "Avalanche" painted in light blue and with all four lifeboats, two stacks, flags and other original accessories, had no trouble sailing to $41,400 against an estimate of $20,000-$22,000.

Other big winners by Marklin included a "Puritan" oceanliner, $23,000; "Columbia" battleship (partially restored), $18,400; and 1930s "Freya" battleship, $17,250 against an estimate of $8,000-$10,000.

The next day was another sale. Over the past decade, the market for early American tin toys has confirmed that demand continues to exceed supply for rare and fine examples.

A nice selection of this specialty was included in Bertoia's sale, with the leading piece being an extremely rare Ives Man on Rocking Horse, ex Tom Anderson collection, which galloped past its $6,000-$8,000 estimate to cross the finish line at $39,100.

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