1950s Tonka fire truck auction shows toy collectibles are 'on fire'

We report on "big" collectibles all the time here at Paul Fraser Collectibles. So how about reporting on something "small" for a change: this 1950s-era Tonka "Suburban Pumper" toy fire truck.

This car came to our attention when we spotted that it had sold for $1,932 in an Internet and catalog auction held in Croton-On-Hudson, New York.

The antique toy fire truck - Model #950-6 - is painted in the quintessential fire engine red, with "No. 5" emblazoned on its doors. It even sold with a toy red fire hydrant.

It was one of many near-mint or mint-in-the-box-examples which sold in the auction. As with all the best collectibles, condition is a crucial factor with rare toys.

"We saw a lot of interest overall in this auction, with strong bidding in many categories," said auctioneer Tom Miano.

"In some cases, bids exceeded three-to-four times the existing book values on items, with solid prices for most other lots."

1950s Tonka Suburban Pumper toy
The 1950s-era Tonka "Suburban Pumper" toy fire truck

This sale is a sign that the rare antique toy markets are going from strength-to-strength.

If you're a major investor with an interest in collectibles, then $1,932 might not sound like very much compared to the hundreds of thousands that collectibles often bring at auction.

However, get a good toy collection together filled with rare and top-quality specimens, and it can all add up.

One of the world's most noted antique toy collectors was Donald Kaufman. His vast collection was sold in a multi-part auction, last year.

In the end, part one of the collection sold for $4.2 million - breaking the auctioneer's house record!

Among the sale's highlights was a Fire Pumper steam toy by German maker Gebruder Märklin. The single toy sold for $150,000.

While the fire engine didn't sell for $150,000, it goes to show that the nuggets are out there. Watch this space for more news from the collectible antique toy markets.

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