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Toy Collection Nets $10 Million At Auction


One man's collection of traditional toys looks set to raise more than $10 million at auction in New Jersey this year.

By James Tweedie

Now-bankrupt US giant K-B Toys owner Donald Kaufman began auctioning off his enormous toy collection last year, shortly before his death in October 2009.

The collection was so big that specialist toy auctioneers Bertoia have had to split it up into four two-day sales.

At the third sale from April 16 and 17, some 3,700 lots went for a combined $2.38 million, reported antique dealer and appraiser Reyne Haines.

The ash cloud from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland prevented European collectors from attending, but not from bidding by phone or internet.

The combined haul from the first three sales came to a staggering $9.3 million. The fourth auction will be on September 24 and 25.

The collection included traditional toys by now little-known manufacturers Distler, Gunthermann, Eberl and Tippco.

The star item was a 1932 Tippco Mickey and Minnie Mouse motorcycle, which went for $65,550, including the buyer's premium – far more than a real motorbike would cost new.

Another 1932 Mickey and Minnie toy, this time an organ grinder made by Distler was estimated to sell for $10-12,000– but the hammer fell at $19,550.

A 1924 American National Packard pedal car was sold by phone for $38,000.

The youngest of the big kids bidding at the auction was a 14 year-old boy, who blew his pocket money on two Hubley toys – all of which is food for thought when you dig your old toy box out of the attic!

As can be seen from the prices quoted, vintage toys can be just as valuable as other antiques – although to fetch the top possible prices they should be in perfect condition and in the original box.

Of course, to those who love seeing toys being played with – this is after all their genuine purpose! – it's a sad fact that toys which have been used for their proper purpose of amusing and delighting children will sell for a small fraction of those hoarded on dusty shelves by collectors.

So if you have the notoriously hard-to-find 1970s Star Wars Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot action figure by Kenner, you'd better find his blaster pistol and the piece of cardboard and plastic blister-pack he came in.

Many journals and websites contain price guides to help collectors value their finds, including Miller's Antiques and Collectibles, the Collectors' Club of Great Britain and the Old Toy Guide.

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