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How To: Michael Bertoia Discusses Collecting Antique Toy Banks

Michael Bertoia, Auctioneer/Coordinator at Bertoia Auctions, has 8 years of experience working with toy banks and other collectibles. He tells us the fascinating story behind the popularity of antique toy banks

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mechanical bankMatchboxJ. & E. Stevenscast iron 5 Dec 2014
Gray's auction features mechanical banks, Matchbox toys Dec. 10
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Punch and Judy mechanical bank manufactured by Shepard Hardware Co., circa 1884. Gray's Auctioneers image

CLEVELAND – Gray’s Auctioneers will disperse a lifetime toy collection as the opening segment of their Dec. 10 auction. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide Internet live bidding for the 746-lot auction, which includes fine and decorative arts.

James N. Seidelle, who was one of the inventors of the flight simulator, quietly built his superb toy collection over eight decades. He was charmed by the creative mechanical movements of the banks, collected the soldiers as a boy, and assembled a massive matchbox car collection.

Highlights from the sale include lot 19, a cast-iron Lighthouse mechanical bank, circa 1891, where a coin any size up to a quarter can be deposited into the house, but the tower takes only nickels and will open once the amount deposited reaches $5. Lot 1 is a cast-iron Magician mechanical bank manufactured by the J. & E. Stevens Co., circa 1901. If a coin is placed on the table as the lever is pressed, the magician covers the coin with his hat and moves his head up and down. When he raises his hat, the coin has disappeared – deposited in the bank.

The toy collection consists of more than 200 lots, with many of the lots composed of 10 to 20 items. All the matchbox cars come with their boxes and many others are unopened in their original packaging. Many of the banks are in multiples and the toy soldiers come in all shapes and sizes. The auction takes place at 10 a.m. EST on Wednesday, Dec. 10, allowing for items to be shipped in time for the holidays.

Live, telephone, absentee and Internet bidding are available. Condition reports will be provided upon request.

For more information contact Serena Harragin at 216-458-7695, or by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

altView the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.


Magician mechanical bank manufactured by the J. & E. Stevens Co., circa 1901. Gray's Auctioneers image

Lighthouse mechanical bank, circa 1891. Gray's Auctioneers image

zeppelinwinduptraintoytin lithosteam toysteam engineSchucoSchoenhutPopeyemechanical bankMartinMarklindollhouseChristmascarouselboatautomotiveauctionantiqueadvertising 7 Nov 2014
Noel Barrett to auction fine toys, carousel animals, trains & advertising Dec. 5-6
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Rare Marklin locomotive with tender and two cars produced in 1902 to replicate famed Stephenson’s Rocket, which was in service from 1829-1840, est. $25,000-$35,000. Noel Barrett image

CARVERSVILLE, Pa. – Recent reports of a massive, wild-eyed dragon in the quaint village of Carversville, Pennsylvania, haven’t been a cause for alarm. Locals know that such sightings typically lead straight to Noel Barrett’s gallery, where unusual Americana and toys are gathered for auction around this time each year. The 6-ft-long carved wood dragon – actually an early double-sided, three-dimensional trade sign – is one of a bevy of fabulous advertisements to be presented along with antique toys and novelties in Barrett’s Dec. 5-6 auction in New Hope, Pa. Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

“There’s such a wide variety of material in this sale. It includes many, many rare items from long-held private collections,” said Barrett. “It’s always a thrill when we dig into a collection and find pieces we’ve never seen before. There’s a lot here to excite collectors of antique advertising and toys, even those who’ve been at it for decades.”

motorcycleJumeaudollBingbebe 4 Nov 2014
Auction Team Breker to sell tin toys, early computer Nov. 15
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One of more than 70 tin toy motorcycles that will be sold by Auction Team Breker on Nov. 14-15. Auction Team Breker image

COLOGNE, Germany – In May 2013 Auction Team Breker set a new world record for selling a 1976 Apple I computer for $671,400 (516,500 euros). The Apple I is the iconic first product of today's most successful technology company, yet its inventor Steve Wozniak might be surprised to discover that a MAC computer that existed 18 years before Apple Inc. was founded is being offered by Auction Team Breker at its Nov. 14-15 auction of science and technology which will also include fine toys and automata.

LiveAuctioneers.com will provide Internet live bidding. M.A.C. is the acronym for a Mechanical Analogue Computer built by the English firm Air Trainers Link Ltd. of Aylesbury in 1958. Capable of solving a range of complex equations, this early flight simulator was the first tape-controlled computer system in the world. Input and output data was presented on a moving paper recorder. Although kits were also offered for the technically ambitious, a glance at the complex machinery of shafts, levers and pulleys explains why its case was the size of a large wardrobe (64 x 77 x 24 inches) – a far cry from today's compact Mac products. This example is believed to be one of only two still in existence. The other is one at the Science Museum London. Auction Team Breker estimates the early computer at $13,500-$27,000 (10,000-20,000 euros).

Star WarsMarxKilgoreJapaneseFrankensteinDisneyDinkycelcast ironBatmanBandaiAlps 3 Sep 2014
‘Serious’ array of toys, pop culture in Morphy’s Sept. 6-7 auction
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Baravelli (Italy) circa-1966 boxed Batman Rocket Gun. Est. $1,000-$1,500. Morphy Auctions image

DENVER, Pa. – The first Toy & Pop Culture Auction produced by Morphy’s under the supervision of specialist Tom Miano will be held over the weekend of Sept. 6 and 7, with Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers. Miano, founder of Serious Toyz, is now a member of Morphy’s team and heads the Pop Culture department. He called on his many longtime customers and connections within the toy community to create a fantastic 1,271-lot lineup of items that includes:

• 400 lots of slot cars

• Spy toys and collectibles, including an extremely rare James Bond Thunderball gun in box, a Man from U.N.C.L.E. Illya Kuryakin gun set in box, original movie posters, and much more

• Superhero items including a rare Baravelli Batman Rocket Gun in box, and one of only two known examples of a 1942 DC Comics promotional ashtray, plus a grouping of scarce Green Hornet items

• Die-cast Dinky vehicles, including a highly sought-after Gift Set #990 in box

• Beatles items, including a record player in beautiful condition, a boxed Big Six Guitar, a factory-sealed box of Hair Pomade, a Yellow Submarine production animation cel, and more

• Approximately 50 Japanese tin cars, including coveted examples by Marusan, Isuzuki, Alps, Bandai, Yonezawa and many others

• A nice assortment of original 1960s/’70s rock concert posters and record store displays for Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Elvis Presley and many more

• An extremely rare MIB example of Remco’s "Hamilton Invaders" Playset, a boxed Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea set, a rare Frankenstein figural candle, and many other sci-fi/monster lots

• TV character collectibles, including many rare and hard-to-find items from The Munsters, Addams Family and many other ’60s TV favorites

• A collection of ventriloquist toys including Charlie McCarthy, and characters made famous by Paul Winchell, Shari Lewis and others

• A large group of unfired Western cap guns, including boxed examples of a Kilgore "Long Tom" and a Nichols Stallion 41-40, as well as cowboy and Western items from Hop-a-Long Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke and others

• Toys and collectibles for cartoon favorites from Disney, Hanna-Barbera, Harvey, United Features, Warner Bros and many others, including toys, figures, animation production cels and more

• Space toys: rare tin battery-ops, ray guns and robots; plus space character toys from Lost in Space, Star Wars, Star Trek, and more

• Tin battery-ops in boxes, including a Marx Kooky Spooky Tree and NBC camera truck

• Many other types of toys and pop-culture collectibles, including board games, dolls, model kits, retail displays, movie posters, advertising, gas station premiums and much more

For additional information on any item in the sale, call 717-335-3435 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

altView the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.


Usagiya (Japan) early 1960s Fiat friction car in original box, one of two color variations of this model to be offered. Est. $50-$100. Morphy Auctions image

The Beatles record player, 1964, one of only 5,000 produced. Est. $2,500-$4,000. Morphy Auctions image

traintractorsteam enginelocomotive 19 Aug 2014
Dreweatts & Bloomsbury to sell hand-built model trains Sept. 10
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World War I 2-6-2 Side Tank Locomotive No. 1227. Estimate: £3,000-£4,000. Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions image.

LONDON – Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions will conduct the sale of the Dennis Brown Collection of gauge 1 locomotives as part of their September Transport Auction on Wednesday, Sept. 10, at the Donnington Priory saleroom in Berkshire. The sale includes Live Steam and Model Engineering Works of Art.

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European & American toys + Marklin trains on tap at Bertoia's, Sept. 19-20
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Circa-1900 Rock & Graner battleship, German, handpainted, 19in long, est. $35,000-$45,000. Bertoia Auctions image

VINELAND, N.J. – No one likes for summer to end, but there’s a silver lining for toy collectors when the sunny season turns a corner and heads into fall. It means that soon it will be time for Bertoia’s Annual Fall Festival Auction. This year the popular, widely diverse sale of antique and vintage toys, trains and holiday items will take place on September 19 and 20 at Bertoia’s spacious auction gallery in Vineland, New Jersey. LiveAuctioneers will provide the Internet live-bidding services for the sale.for tcm:

Nearly 1,400 lots are being prepared for the colorful event, with an exciting list of categories that includes cast-iron and tin, penny toys, lead boats, European trains and stations, paper-over-wood and Fisher-Price toys. Almost 300 lots are dedicated to holiday collectibles, primarily related to Christmas.

“This is an entertaining, A-to-Z toy sale that won’t disappoint,” Bertoia Auctions associate Rich Bertoia said. “There’s a lot to see and bid on over the two-day period. We’ll be starting at 10 a.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday.”

Friday’s session begins with a featured collection of 19th-century miniature lead boats by Issmayer, Heyde and others. “I’ve never seen this many in one group, because they’re very hard to find. The consignor is an American who bought primarily in Europe. Many are of the same type seen in some of David Pressland’s books,” said Bertoia.”

There will also be many larger boats docked at Bertoia’s, including an elusive 23-inch Uebelacker riverboat, and a very special craft by Rock & Graner, an example of which is also depicted in a Pressland reference. “When I asked David about it, he confirmed that it’s a tremendous find. If David says that, I’ll certainly take his word for it,” Bertoia said.

American cast-iron vehicles include autos, trucks, ’cycles, farm vehicles and fire engines. Featured highlights are an Arcade panel van, Kilgore Stutz-styled auto and a very rare Hubley 3-ton stake truck.

Coveted Marklin productions lead the train section. Among the highlights from Germany’s premier toy brand are: a lithographed-tin Heinz Tomato Ketchup car, several 1 gauge Pennsylvania Railroad passenger sets, and very nice 1 gauge “windcutter.” Four Marklin stations are entered in the sale, including an especially nice Central Station. A globe-on-arc lamp and a few choice canopy accessories are included, as well.

For collectors of German toys who’d like to visit a very exclusive day spa, Bertoia’s invites them to dip their toe into a Marklin swimming pool similar to those seen at Europe’s luxury hotels of a century ago. The pool is completely railed, with simulated brickwork, and has a diving board and platform. While it is estimated at $6,000-$8,000, Bertoia believes it could well exceed that price range.

Highlights in the automotive section include a connoisseur’s piece: a very early (circa 1900-1902) Carette steam-driven open car with a curious, primitive design; plus several Carette taxis and limos. Also in the lineup are two Alfa Romeo P2 racers – one in red and the other in an even scarcer blue color – as well as a couple of Bluebird racers, including a very desirable lithographed-tin 13-inch version with driver by SY Japan.

Many other European toys will be up for bid, among them an outstanding boxed Ski Rolf by Lehmann, estimated at $8,000-$10,000. “It’s all original and is the nicest one we’ve ever seen. It’s like new/old store stock,” Bertoia said. Also in the mix are more than 50 penny toys, including some colorful autos, an early airplane and a few articulated types.

A comprehensive array of comic character toys – many of them boxed and of Japanese manufacture – runs the gamut of radio, TV and newspaper comic strip characters. Ten Popeye variations, numerous character bands, an army of Marx toys, and many Mickey Mouse and other Disney toys – including celluloid – will be ready to perform and amuse.

Saturday’s session will start with more than 100 pressed-steel vehicles. The centerpiece is a fine fleet of trucks and pedal cars, and although they are from a prestigious collection, all will be sold without reserve. All of the top brands are represented, including Buddy L, Keystone and Sturditoy. A few are old store stock and retain their original boxes. The pedal car selection includes both early, all-original examples and other vehicles that have been restored to perfection. “All levels of buyer will be satisfied,” Rich Bertoia assured.

Next up will be die-cast toys, mostly by Smith-Miller. Some genuine rarities have been spotted in the grouping, including a red-painted wood prototype truck made right after World War II. It is an extremely well designed item with a futuristic look. Even though an artist’s rendering of the finished toy appeared in Smith-Miller’s sales catalog, the toy never actually saw production, making the company-documented prototype even more desirable to collectors.

The last of the wonderful paper-on-wood toys consigned to Bertoia’s by the late Dr. Frank Loveland will be auctioned on day two of the sale. This section is replete with wood trains and Noah’s Ark lots from the Loveland collection and others. Of special note is an ark from Dr. Loveland’s collection that is a “transitional” toy. Intact, it is an ark, but when the top is removed, it takes on the form of a train – two toys for the price of one.

Other toy highlights include a collection of Erzgebirge toys, both of hand-painted wood and paper on wood; a General Grant clockwork “smoker” toy, and approximately 50 Fisher-Price toys, including some of the company’s earliest designs.

One look at the outstanding collection of early Atlantic City tourist souvenirs and there’s no question as to where the hit HBO series “Boardwalk Empire” drew its inspiration. In addition to picture postcards and photos, the collection includes ceramic dishes, etched ruby glass, cups, saltwater taffy boxes, and even a spittoon from an old hotel. “This is a great regional collection,” Bertoia noted. “It’s from a time when the Steel Pier amusement park was billed as the ‘Showplace of the Nation.’ It was the biggest thing on the East Coast.”

As is the tradition at Bertoia’s, the Annual Fall Festival Auction will reserve its final 3-4 hours to Christmas and other holiday antiques. A glittering assortment of glass ornaments, including early hand-painted ones, will be auctioned alongside a fabulous assortment of Dresdens, to serve as the grand finale of the late Tom Fox’s collection. Being a renowned interior designer, Fox had an impeccable eye for form and color, and this is reflected in the ornaments he chose for inclusion in his lifetime collection.

To contact Bertoia Auctions call 856-692-1881 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

View the fully illustrated auction catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

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altView the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

Schoenner gauge IV steam locomotive and tender, German, boxed set, est. $3,000-$4,000. Bertoia Auctions image

Alps Twirly Whirly Rocket Ride, Japanese, est. $500-$600. Bertoia Auctions image Lehmann ‘Li-La’ hansom cab with original box, German, clockwork, est. $1,800-$2,000. Bertoia Auctions image Carette steam-powered automobile, 10in long, est. $7,000-$9,000. Bertoia Auctions image American National locomotive pedal car, circa 1927, #9 limited model, est. $2,500-$3,500. Bertoia Auctions image Buddy ‘L’ pressed-steel trencher on treads, 1928, est. $2,000-$2,500. Bertoia Auctions image Hubley 3-ton delivery truck, cast iron, circa 1920s, est. $1,200-$1,500. Bertoia Auctions image German belsnickle candy container, composition figure in fur robe, 12in tall, est. $500-$600. Bertoia Auctions image

toymechanical bankJ. & E. StevensIvescast ironbankauctionantique 14 Aug 2014
Bertoia’s to auction Washington attorney Max Berry’s lifetime collection of antique toys and mechanical banks
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One of the rarest pieces in the Max N. Berry collection is a circa-1876 “Preacher at the Pulpit” mechanical bank made by the J. & E. Stevens Company of Cromwell, Connecticut. Coming to the auction marketplace with a long and distinguished line of provenance, it will be offered at auction with a $150,000-$175,000 estimate. Bertoia Auctions image.

VINELAND, N.J. – Jeanne Bertoia, owner of Bertoia Auctions in Vineland, New Jersey, announced today that her company has been chosen to auction the antique toy and bank collection of distinguished Washington attorney and longtime collector/scholar Max Berry. The first in a series of two, possibly three, auctions devoted to the Berry collection will be held at Bertoia’s gallery on November 14 and 15, 2014. Over 500 antique banks, cast-iron horse-drawn toys, early American tin and cast-iron bell toys will cross the auction block. LiveAuctioneers will provide Internet live-bidding services for the event.

“We are thrilled that Max chose us to auction his toys. It’s such an honor for us,” said Bertoia. “Our family has been friends with Max for many years, going back to the great friendship he had with my husband, Bill [the late William S. Bertoia, co-founder of Bertoia Auctions].” The Max Berry collection is regarded as one of the most important antique toy and bank collections in existence.

SupermanBatman 29 Jul 2014
Industry news flows from Comic-Con International
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There were literally thousands of fans in costume, also known as 'cosplayers,' at the convention. Photo by J. Kevin Topham-Ostrich.

SAN DIEGO – Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Comic-Con International: San Diego, saw the Hollywood PR machine in full force, literally thousands of attendees in costume, and plenty of transactions going on from comic books and T-shirts to movie prop replicas and limited edition hardcover books.

Attendees filled panel discussion after panel discussion, the show floor, and seemingly every bit of walking space between the San Diego Convention Center and the entire historic Gaslamp Quarter. Local hotels, restaurants, cabs, car services and pedi-cabs reported brisk – and frequently overflowing – business.
Yonezawatraintoytin lithospace toyrobotLioneldoorstopcast ironautomotiveauctionArcadeairplane 21 Jul 2014
1,200+ toys, trains & figural cast-iron novelties in Morphy’s July 26-27 Toy Auction
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Yonezawa tin-litho and painted-tin crank-wind Astro-Scout robot with original box, est. $4,000-$8,000. Morphy Auctions image

DENVER, Pa. – The trains will be rolling at Morphy’s over the weekend of July 26-27. More than 700 railroad-related lots are entered in the big 1,294-lot Premier Toy Auction featuring all types of toys, trains, wind-ups and vehicles, as well as figural cast-iron doorstops and more. Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

Topping the train group is Lot 226, a 5-piece Elektoy passenger set consisting of a complete and original brass steam locomotive with tender marked “PENN. R.R.” Likewise, the combo car is complete and original. The set’s passenger cars are lettered for “PRR” and New York, New Haven and New Hartford.” In overall very good condition, this desirable set is estimated at $2,500-$3,500. Other eye-catching lots in this section include two rare, early trolleys – one by Howard and one by Lionel – and a Delker train store display.
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