'He always bought, never sold...' Bertoia sells two legendary toy collections



A pressed-steel collection with deep provenance and an eclectic US West Coast collection whose owner lived by the motto "preserve and protect" will star in Bertoia's upcoming September 23-24 antique toy auction.

"This sale represents the journey of two great collectors: the late Fred Castan of Nebraska and the late Ralph Tomlinson, who was from southern California," said Bertoia Auctions associate Rich Bertoia.

"Together, the collections cover vast territory within the realm of antique toys."

In terms of desirability and condition, the Castan collection is in a highly rarefied class, said Mr Bertoia -  and also unusual is its consistently fine condition throughout.

"The Castan collection is one of the early ones. Fred Castan was actively buying pressed-steel toys when the category was just a glimmer in the eyes of a few collectors. And he always bought, never sold."

One of Castan's most cherished possessions has an important historical connection. It is a red Buddy 'L' flivver given to Fred by none other than Fred Lundahl, founder of the Moline Pressed Steel Co, the producer of America's famous Buddy 'L' toys.


'The collections cover vast territory within the realm of antique toys'
said Bertoia Auctions associate Rich Bertoia

Another highlight of the Castan collection is a Buddy 'L' outdoor railroad set. "It might be the best surviving example - it's that nice," said Mr Bertoia.

The Castan collection spans all leading makers of pressed-steel automotive toys, including Keystone, Sturditoy and American National. Within the panoply of vehicles are delivery vans, fire trucks, work trucks, police vans and other varieties.

"When you think of a pressed-steel toy, with its size and weight and the fact that it has been played with outdoors, you just don't expect to see survivors in this condition," said Mr Bertoia.

"Fred was able to snap them up before kids received them as hand-me-downs, and because of his prudence in keeping them indoors, they retained their beautiful condition. Collectors are really going to be impressed."

The auction's saleroom will be at Bertoia's gallery in Vineland, New Jersey, US. Online bidding is also available - and is likely to attract bidders from around the globe.


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