The final sale of a giant of tiny collectibles: Donald Kaufman



2015-06-26 12:21:00

The final sale of a giant of tiny collectibles: Donald Kaufman

The fifth and final auction of Kaufman's famed toy collection is to take place at Bertoia this week

In an auction odyssey that began in March of 2009 with an offering of rare automotive toys, Bertoia's has made an impressive job of presenting an ongoing series of events featuring the antique toy collection of the late Donald Kaufman, co-founder of KB Toys.

The four auctions to date have realized $10.9 million. The series' grand total will be known when the chequered flag waves over the weekend of April 15-16, 2011 in New Jersey and online as Bertoia's conducts the Donald Kaufman Auction Part V - The Final Lap.

The last of the toys from the revered Kaufman collection will be auctioned in a 275-lot opening session, followed by a daylong Saturday session containing approximately 650 lots including many investment-grade items.

"Appropriately, we will start with old store stock of Marx toys, since that's how the Kaufman toy business began," said Bertoia's gallery associate Rich Bertoia. "There are many boxed Marx examples in unusually nice condition.

On the other hand, some of the Marx toys in the sale are more common, but they have their rare original boxes. The boxes that contained Marx farm toys and moving vans were almost always discarded - those toys were bought to be played with."

Collectors of pressed-steel trucks are in for a surprise, Bertoia said. "We set aside many excellent pressed-steel trucks just for this sale. There are more than 100 pieces dating from the 1920s to the 1940s, with a few toys from the Richard Keats Buddy 'L' Archive.

American National deluxe Packard coupe toy car American National deluxe Packard coupe toy car

"Other pressed steel toy brands represented include Keystone, Sturditoy, Structo and American National. Of special note are a few very rare trucks whose restorations were completed exclusively with the toys' original parts.

"Collectors might like these restorations, which required great skill and were very expensive to do. Rather than using 'make-do' replacement parts from other toys, the trucks' own parts were painstakingly restored, so they retained their original integrity," Bertoia said.

The Marx and pressed steel toys, as well as 43 pedal cars - some of them all original and some of museum quality - will be blended into the auction over both days of the sale.

Neither day will be "top loaded," Bertoia said. "In particular, it will be exciting to see the interest level in the pedal cars, which were the largest toys in Don's collection. There were nearly 250 pedal cars when we started the auction series.

"For this final selection, we reserved pedal vehicles of every style you can imagine, from fire trucks and work trucks to luxury-level automobiles."

A bumper crop of approximately 200 cast-iron automotive toys has also been added to the sale, to be divided evenly over the two-day period.

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Images: Bertoia

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