Board games and battleships... Malcolm Forbes's toy collection makes $2.3m

Anyone visiting Sotheby's in New York on Monday (December 20) could have been forgiven for thinking they'd wandered into Santa's workshop by mistake.

A wonderful collection of toys amassed over 40 years by the late publishing tycoon Malcolm Forbes went up for auction, attracting bidders from all over the world. And with the sale raising $2.3m, it seems Christmas came a few days early for the numerous collectors and investors present.

The sale featured toys from the 'golden age' of toy-making, from the 1870s to the 1950s, and included one of the world's finest collections of toy boats.

A model of the doomed ocean liner the Lusitania, which
sold for $194,500

The top selling lot of the auction was a fine and important 37 inch model of the luxury ocean liner the Lusitania. Expertly made by the German company Märklin in 1912, the boat featured intricate details such as working anchors and chains and sold for $194,500, almost double its low-end estimate.

Other notable sales from the boat collection included a "King Edward VII" clockwork battleship circa 1905 which beat its estimate of $25,000 - $45,000 to sell for $68,500, and a 1912 "Posen" electric battleship (also from Märklin) that sold for an impressive $116,500.

The other highlight of the sale was a board game that certainly suited Forbes' famous love of capitalism: Monopoly.

The earliest known hand-made Monopoly set to include
rules, which sold for $146,500

The example was one of the early hand-made sets, built by the game's originator Charles Darrow in 1933 before it was mass-produced by the games company Parker Bros.

It was the earliest known set to have survived, the only one with a circular board and the earliest set to include rules. It had a pre-sale estimate of $60,000 - $80,000, but fierce bidding saw it eventually sold for $146,500.

The collection had previously been on display for the last 25 years in the Forbes Gallery on New York's Fifth Avenue, giving people plenty of time to admire the pieces. But this was the first time it had come up for auction, and collectors from across the globe were in attendance to bid for the numerous rare examples.

Malcolm Forbes was a collector of many things, but it's unlikely that many of them brought him as much as fun as the toys he spent half his life picking up. With the sale at Sotheby's, a new generation of collectors has been given the chance to enjoy them as much as he did and maybe make a profit in the process. Which is something Forbes would definitely approve of.


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