Bertoia’s May 12 auction features Dick Claus Nautical Toy & Boat collection, Part I The world-renowned Dick Claus antique boat collection will be offered in two parts this year by Bertoia Auctions. Part I will be sold on Saturday, May 12 at Bertoia's Vineland, N.J. gallery.
In addition to ships and boats of every description, the auction includes a great variety of sailor figures, ranging from early German-made Heydes to 1930s Barclays figures. Also, there are U-boat submariner’s badges, a few navy recruitment posters, and what Claus calls “oddballs,” like a German beer mug from a 1909 torpedo boat squadron.
The Claus auction also includes a number of toy zeppelins, a category that attracted him because of their historical significance and his own fascination with the Hindenberg. While a young boy, Claus saw the giant airship from a distance as it was moored at Lakehurst, N.J. One year later, the Hindenberg tragically went down in flames.
“At one time, zeppelins were thought of as the future of aviation. People were intrigued by them, but of course that all ended when the Hindenburg blew up,” Claus said.
The best piece in Claus’ airship collection – a small Graf Zeppelin – was made in 1929 by Heyde. It comes in a box with numerous accessories – pilot, co-pilot and entire landing crew, plus gas cans, ropes and other small accessories. Claus describes the set as “marvelous, and the only one I’ve ever seen.”
Approximately 20 European trolleys have been included in the May 12 auction, as well. An ingeniously designed Issmayer O gauge lithographed clockwork trolley departs a small station, climbs a 4-ft. track to the top, then reverses, switches tracks and returns to the station, triumphantly ringing its bell upon arrival. “That’s pretty neat engineering for around 1910,” Claus observed.
Those who are fortunate enough to acquire a toy from the Dick Claus collection will have the assurance of knowing they own a piece that has come from one of the most discriminating collectors of the last two generations.
“Dick has always gone for the best. His collection has more top of the line Marklins than I’ve ever seen in any one collection – even Malcolm Forbes didn’t have as many,” said Rich Bertoia. “There are going to be a lot of very happy collectors at the May 12th auction. Dick has already done all of the globetrotting and tracking down of rare pieces. Now they’ll all be available at once.”
The May 12 auction of the Dick Claus collection will begin at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. Preview weekdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on auction day. All forms of bidding available, including live via the Internet through www.LiveAuctioneers.com.