Fleet of motorbikes and a wooden horse race ahead at Forbes toy sale

As we reported, Malcolm Forbes's great collection of toys raised $2.38m, and 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 lower estimate.

In truth, Forbes's collection was dominated by toy boats, with the clear majority of the top 100 lots in the sale of his collection a small version of some ocean-going vessel, with two early sets of Monopoly their only company.

However, that glosses over some very different toys in the sale. Forbes's most impressive collection was of Presidential autographs, and his most spectacular was that of Fabergé eggs, but in his life outside collecting he was an enthusiastic motorcyclist.

This of course fed back into his collecting. As well as classic examples of the real thing, he had an impressive set of motorcycle toys. Two lots illustrate this:

One set's highlights included four pre-war keywind tinplate examples comprising a Greppert & Kelch Touring Cyclon featuring driver, sidecar, and lady passenger with articulated arm, a Günthermann keywind Touring Cyclist, a Tippco motorcycle with driver, sidecar, and lady passenger; and a Motorcycist and ramp go-round by Rico.

Malcolm Forbes toy motorbikes
Malcolm Forbes's toy motorbikes

The collection also features an Arnold keywind Mac Motorcycle (green version), a Monkey Scooter by Gama, two Tippco Bella Scooters, a boxed Tri-Ang Gyrocycle, a boxed French Vespa Cart, several sizes and styles of Tippco motorcycles, a great selection of Schuco friction-powered cycles, examples by Technofix, Huki and others.

With lengths ranging from 4 to 12 inches, this nearly doubled its top estimate of $6,000, bringing $11,250.

The second selection did better still. Featuring Hoge keywind Traffic Cycle-Car Delivery, an early Japanese keywind Welby delivery cycle with helmeted driver, an unusual French clockwork aluminum cycle with Bakelite sidecar stamped "Auto-Cycle Paris," a nickel-plated cycle with rubber tires and a brown sidecar, it included pre and post-war versions of the Marx keywind Speedboy Delivery carts, a Wyandotte Humphrey Mobile, a Wyandotte Easter Bunny cycle with sidecar.

This collection also contained a large selection of Japanese post-war toys by Alps, Bandai, Linemar, San, Matsudaya, Nomura and Yone, including a boxed Ice Cream Vendor by Nomura, friction-powered Harley and Venus cycles, Linemar Mickey and Pluto cycles, battery-operated Highway Patrol and expert Motorcyclist by Matsudaya, as well as some later post-war toys.

Malcolm Forbes Troy figures
Malcolm Forbes's Troy figures

Bearing an identical listing of $4,000-6,000, it sold for $15,000. However, a bigger surprise than any of these was a set of figures depicting the sack of Troy.

Perfectly staged, the display features a tinplate walled city of Troy with columned temple, a suspiciously large wooden horse, and Heyde figures of Greek and Trojan warriors. It also features a group of Heinrichsen flats representing Greek gods and warriors based on the legends of Homer.

In hindsight, the estimate of $4,000-5,000 was perhaps a little low. The resonance of an event like the sack of Troy combined with good craftsmanship always makes it a strong investment, and it eventually sold for $21,250 to a delighted collector.


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