Toy boat discovered in attic sets new world auction record
A 100-year-old toy boat discovered hidden in an attic has sold for a world-record price at auction.
The boat was the star lot at Bertoia Auctions' most recent antique toys sale, which achieved a total of $1.4 million in New Jersey.
Made in the early years of the 20th century by the German manufacturer Marklin, the 38-inch-long 'Amerika' oceanliner was found preserved in remarkably original condition and described as "the finest of its kind ever offered at public auction".
The clockwork-powered toy vessel still retained all four funnels, along with exquisite detailing such as its original lifeboats, masts and upper deck appointments.
"This boat was an extraordinary find," said Bertoia Auctions owner, Jeanne Bertoia. "It had come out of an attic where it had remained for many years. When it was removed from its storage place, the boat had layers of dust and grime, and we believe that’s what helped preserve the paint. Once it was cleaned, it was bright, colorful and absolutely pristine."
Offered with an estimate of $50,000 - $70,000, the ship swiftly sailed away to a final price of $271,400 – setting a new record as the most expensive toy boat ever sold at auction.
The previous world record price had also been set at Bertoia Auctions, back in 2012, when a Marklin Chicago paddlewheeler from the Dick Claus collection sold for $264,000.
It wasn't the only item to exceed expectations. Next up was a highly rare hand-painted tinplate train, made circa-1850 by the American toy company Field & Francis. Offered in all-original condition more than 160 years later, the train sold for $64,900 against a top estimate of $25,000.
"Often, if an early American tin train appears at auction, it shows signs of paint touch-up or re-soldering, but this train was totally pure," said Bertoia.
Further leading lots included an equally rare Lehmann toy depicting the Chinese Boxer rebellion which sold for $18,880; a hand-painted tin rollerskating figure by Martin which more than doubled its estimate to fetch $16,520; and a nodding head SAanta toy on a wheeled platform which sold for an amazing $16,520 – more than thirteen times its high estimate of just $1,200.
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