Collector Spotlight: Merle Levitt, Collector of Antique Trains & Toys Morphy's March 11-12, 2011 Toys & Advertising Auction features the Merle Levitt collection of American and European trains and toys. In this article, Merle shares his favorite collecting adventures.
he bought it from a dealer in Maryland, it had to be air freighted – it was too big to send through the U.S. Mail. “When I picked it up, I had to tie it to the roof of my Toyota with ropes to get it home,” Levitt said with a laugh.
Other top lots from the collection include a transition set manufactured by Lionel and marked for distribution under the Ives brand, a Lionel brown State set, and an American Flyer deluxe 9-piece Grand Canyon freight set with 4692 high-gloss tri-valve steam locomotive, Vanderbilt tender and extremely rare 4010 Air Service yellow tank car.
Toys didn’t become part of the collection until several years after Levitt was bitten by the train bug. “I went to buy a fairly common standard gauge train from a guy who was getting ready to have a garage sale. I noticed that he also had some toys, including a Buddy ‘L’ truck. I said, ‘How much for everything in the driveway?’ I thought his price was fair, so I bought it all,” Levitt recalled. The group purchase inspired him to start collecting pressed-steel toys by all the major manufacturers: Keystone, Sturditoy and, of course, Buddy ‘L.’
Some of Levitt’s favorites include a circa-1925 American National Blue Streak truck with wild animals lithographed onto both side panels, a Sturditoy oil tanker truck rated 9.5 out of 10, a Sturditoy red and black “Traveling Store” furniture delivery truck described by Levitt as “terrific – hard to find in that condition,” and a Buddy ‘L’ Road Roller. Levitt recalls with fondness the circumstances surrounding the purchase of the Road Roller.
“I had gone to the Buddy ‘L’ Morgue auction [collection of retired Buddy ‘L’ president Richard Keats], but I couldn’t buy a thing,” Levitt said. “I had brought a list of around 100 items to bid on, but everything was going for many times the estimate. So I decided to go out in parking lot where a lot of guys were selling toys from the backs of their vehicles. That’s where I bought the Road Roller.”
The March 11 sale also showcases many outstanding character toys, some of which are from the Merle Levitt collection. The lineup includes: rare, boxed celluloid Mickey Mouse toys; a Lionel Mickey Mouse Circus, boxed Ingersoll character watches and an Ingersoll Disney character wristwatches display; boxed Schuco Three Little Pigs musicians, Mickey and Minnie Mouse Playland, boxed Mickey Mouse Fountain Pen, and many other early delights featuring such favorites as Felix, Popeye, Smitty, Maggie & Jiggs, Amos & Andy and more.
Join Morphy’s on March 11-12, 2011 for the auction of the Merle Levitt collection of American trains, pressed steel automotive and vintage character toys.
All forms of bidding will be available over the auction weekend, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live or LiveAuctioneers.com.
For additional information, call Morphy's at 717-335-3435 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Morphy's online at www.morphyauctions.com.