News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - For decades now the Christiansen family of Denmark, founders of the LEGO Group -- a forerunner in nurturing creativity in children, and the child within all of us -- have quietly maintained one of the world's largest museums of antique dolls and toys. Not LEGO bricks, mind you, but antique playthings from the 19th and early 20th century. Antique dolls and early tin toys, teddy bears and trains, dollhouses and automata. The Christiansen family did not need to found this collection; it was a labor of love, a desire to create a mirror to the past so that the youth today might find a way to reflect on the joy of what it was to be a child, in say, 1885. For almost 40 years the collection was made available to the world in a special Museum within LEGOLAND(R) Park in Billund, Denmark, the home of the LEGO Group. Then, in 2005, the LEGO Foundation decided to close the LEGO Collections, and to offer the hallmark museum at auction to collectors. The auction was awarded to Theriault's, the venerable U.S. based auctioneer of antique dolls and toys, to be presented in a landmark event held over three days in Las Vegas from May 19-21, 2006.
It is a "landmark" auction in that this is the first significant doll and toy museum from Europe to be offered in the U.S. through an American auction house. Theriault's President Stuart Holbrook calls it an important step in recognizing that "The market for collectibles transcends geography. Much like childhood is an experience that knows no borders, the collecting of rare and valuable dolls and toys is a truly international concern with the US being at the forefront of the global phenomenon."
The hundreds of thousands of children and "children at heart" who visited the exhibits over the past four decades had been treated to thousands of items that dated from the earliest commercial toys produced in Europe in the late 18th century right up until the 1920's. A separate museum and archives, which is not being sold, and will be maintained in Billund, has housed LEGO objects from the early years when the firm was a small cottage industry under original founder Ole Kirk Christiansen. Instead, the museum of antique dolls and toys was a comprehensive look at childhood before the LEGO Group was founded in 1932. Brought together originally as a showcase, the 3,000 pieces that were assembled over the many years in the museum quickly took on a life of their own and, as the collecting of rare dolls and toys became an adult phenomena over the past three decades, the collection became highly valued amongst the world of doll and toy enthusiasts. At the time of its recent closing, the LEGO Foundation's Antique Doll and Toy collection was considered to be the finest in Europe.
For some, the realization of a museum with such a legacy going to auction seems contradictory to the idea of preservation. But, according to Holbrook, it