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Spring sale rings up $2.3m

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Whoever said ‘history never repeats itself’ might have had a change of heart, had they attended Bertoia’s March Spring Signature Sale. Many who were there commented that the atmosphere felt like an auction of the 1990s and early 2000s, when collectors would travel halfway around the world to bid on toys from fabled collections.

“You could feel the electricity. There was a larger crowd than we’ve seen over the past few years, and so much enthusiasm,” said Michael Bertoia, president of Bertoia Auctions. “Many international bidders took part. Some came weeks in advance to privately preview particular toys they wanted to bid on, but after viewing all of the pieces on display, they would discover other toys they liked and ended up bidding on them, as well.”

Over the last three years, Bertoia’s has auctioned three major collections of Fernand Martin French clockwork toys, with Mohr’s being the third. This has created an unusual windfall for collectors, since Martin toys are ordinarily in short supply in the international marketplace. At the March sale, the Mohr assemblage was led by a boxed L’Intrepide Jockey (Intrepid Jockey) on a hobby horse carrying a Mona Lisa painting under his arm, which sold for $12,000 against an estimate of $5,000-$7,500.

Toy racers and motorcycles have remained very strong in the collector market. Some rare and very desirable pieces were scooped up on auction day, including an early Gunthermann wind-up racer in an unusual turquoise and gold motif, with two figures. It more than doubled its estimate in reaching $29,400.

A Marklin Clockwork Congressional Limited gauge 1 set more than doubled its estimate at $16,800; while a Marklin gauge 2 pair of American Eagle cars reached its destination at $12,000.

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