Even a volcanic eruption couldn't keep bidders away from Bertoia's $2.38M Kaufman sale Intense interest in the third auction installment of toys from the fabled Donald Kaufman collection pushed the total to $2.38M at Bertoia's April 16-17 sale.
News-Antique.com - May 19,2010 - VINELAND, N.J. - Auctioneers have learned to cope with a myriad of meteorological challenges year round, from bone-chilling blizzards to terrifying tornados, but the last thing Jeanne Bertoia and her team expected to deal with over the weekend of April 16-17 was a volcanic eruption.
A cloud of ash drifting from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland, which had erupted twice in less than a month, enshrouded much of Europe in the 48 hours prior to Bertoia’s sale of the Donald Kaufman collection, part III. The volcanic ash forced the cancellation of many flights and disrupted air traffic across northern Europe, stranding thousands of passengers. Among them were toy collectors with plans to attend the 3,700-lot sale at Bertoia’s Vineland, N.J., gallery.
“Most of the Euros made it out just before the cancellations, although [noted author and antique toy expert] David Pressland was one of the travelers stranded in London,” said Jeanne Bertoia. “Fortunately, we were able to move quickly to accommodate anyone who requested a last-minute phone line. Many others bid live via the Internet, so no one was left out.” The auction went on to gross $2.38 million; all prices quoted in this report include 15% buyer’s premium.
This was the first Kaufman auction to feature comic character toys, a category that has been somewhat soft in recent years. Buyers reacted to the introduction of fresh, top-quality comic character toys from a long-held collection with unbridled enthusiasm. Europeans bidding remotely on German examples from the collection gave new impetus to the comic toys, especially those made by Distler, Gunthermann, Eberl and Tippco, the latter being the company that produced a circa-1932 Mickey and Minnie Mouse motorcycle that sold for $65,550. “That’s almost as much as the one that sold with a box!” a voice in the audience piped up after the hammer fell on the lot.
A collector favorite, a circa-1932 Distler Mickey Mouse organ grinder with a miniature Minnie that “dances” atop the barrel organ was presented with its original, profusely illustrated box. Estimated at $10,000-$12,000, it easily scampered to $19,550 and into the hands of a bidder in the room.
Early automotive toys continued the winning streak evident in previous Kaufman sales. A rare circa-1920 clockwork fire pumper made by Germany’s premier toymaker, Marklin, sped past its estimate to settle at $48,587.50; while a boxed 1896 Faivre (French) rendition of a Panhard Levassor, nearly doubled its high estimate at $26,450. An exceptional example of a four-seat tourer, a Bing tinplate double phaeton, 13 inches long with composition chauffeur, rolled serenely to $25,300.
A circa-1900, 12-inch French tourer with robin’s-egg-blue racer-style body, two bisque-head figures and original box fetched $27,600; but the top lot of the early European tin category was another Marklin production – a circa-1903 hand-painted four-seat tourer with white body and mango-colored, faux-tufted seats. Against a high estimate of $35,000, it earned its bragging rights at $55,200.
A circa-1924 American National Packard coupe pedal car with wicker-style door panels and a fancy eagle hood ornament