09 September 2016
Bertoia Auctions sets a world record, thanks to a Marklin oceanliner.
What could you buy for $217,400? A decent-sized house, a vintage sport cars, perhaps even a small tropical island (although it would probably only come with one palm tree)? What about a toy boat? Would you be willing to splash more than $200,000 on a vintage model…?
Well, clearly someone was, as Bertoia’s has just reported it’s broken the bank with a German-made Marklin oceanliner, Amerika, that realised almost four times its top estimate, selling for $217,400 (£163k in today’s post-Brexit economy). The buyer, who understandably wished to remain anonymous, was from Europe, so perhaps the ship is finally sailing back home?
“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, colourful and absolutely pristine.” The former world auction record for a toy boat had been held by a Marklin Chicago paddlewheeler from the renowned Dick Claus collection. That particular boat sold at Bertoia’s in 2012 for $264,000.
Elsewhere, antique American toys were led by a superb, circa-1850 Francis, Field & Francis hand-painted tinplate train. Like the Marklin Amerika, the train was the object of fierce bidding because of its astonishing all-original condition. “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. Estimated at $15,000-$25,000, it quickly rose to $35,000, at which point the bidding narrowed to only a few competitors. The train sold for $64,900 to a collector who is fairly new to the world of antique toys.
Also, the ingenious designs of Lehmann, Martin and Gunthermann found favour with buyers on both sides of the Atlantic. German-made Lehmann toys that fared best were a Boxer Rebellion, $18,880; and excellent condition Baker and Sweep with original box, $4,425. An extremely rare Martin (French) Roller Skater sped off to a new owner for $16,520 – four times its low estimate.