Castan, Tomlinson antique toy collections roll into the spotlight at Bertoia's, Sept. 23-24 A pressed-steel collection with deep provenance and an eclectic West Coast collection whose owner lived by the motto “preserve and protect” form the heart of Bertoia’s Sept. 23-24 auction.
News-Antique.com - Sep 12,2011 - VINELAND, N.J. – A pressed-steel collection with deep provenance and an eclectic West Coast collection whose owner lived by the motto “preserve and protect” have merged to form the heart of Bertoia’s big Sept. 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. Together, the collections cover vast territory within the realm of antique toys,” said Bertoia Auctions associate Rich Bertoia.
In terms of desirability and condition, the Castan collection is in a highly rarefied class, Bertoia said. “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,” Bertoia said.
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 Buddy ‘L’ toys.
Another highlight of the Castan collection is a Buddy ‘L’ outdoor railroad set. “It might be the best surviving example – it’s that nice,” Bertoia said. Yet another Buddy ‘L’ production expected to stir up the bidding competition is a red tugboat described as a salesman’s sample in a leading reference book on Buddy ‘L.’
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 many other desirable forms.
What makes the collection so unusual, Bertoia said, is its consistently fine condition throughout. “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. 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,” he said.
The second featured collection of Bertoia’s approximately 1,000-lot September auction is the widely varied and impeccably maintained assemblage of American and European toys amassed by Ralph Tomlinson.
“Since his earliest days of collecting, Ralph always made sure his toys were in excellent working order and looked their very best,” said Bertoia’s owner, Jeanne Bertoia. “Ralph liked for his toys to be shiny and clean, and because he was mechanically inclined, nothing pleased him more than to retreat to his wonderful workshop to tinker with his toys and restore them to perfect working order. If he made a repair to any of them – which he did with great expertise and subtlety – he would always point out the repair with pride.”
European transportation toys were always been a focal point in the Tomlinson collection. Autos, trolleys, buses and early horse-drawn coaches shared the gleaming showcase shelves in Tomlinson’s home