Auctions: Weekend auction will feature collection of toy boats

A Marklin clockwork paddle wheeler made around 1901, from the Richard T. Claus collection, has a presale estimate of $200,000 to $250,000 at Bertoia Auctions in Vineland.
A Marklin clockwork paddle wheeler made around 1901, from the Richard T. Claus collection, has a presale estimate of $200,000 to $250,000 at Bertoia Auctions in Vineland.
Posted: November 10, 2012

Next weekend, Rago Arts & Auction Center will offer high-end fine art at its Lambertville gallery with 148 lots of 19th- and 20th-century American and European works followed by 350 lots of postwar and contemporary pieces. This weekend, Bertoia Auctions will conclude its liquidation of the Richard T. Claus collection of nautical toys and boats with a 350-lot sale at its Vineland gallery.

Guess which sale is expected to bring the highest single price.

In terms of quantity, the Rago sale, whose first session begins at 10 a.m. Nov. 17, with the second scheduled to start at 1 p.m., comes out ahead with three dozen lots expected in the five-figure price range.

Two lots are expected to sell for six figures, according to the online catalog accessible at They are a pair of stamped artist-proof bronze statues in the first session by the 20th-century American Frederick Hart. One is of St. Peter, the other is a semi-abstract titled Ex Nihilo ("out of nothing"). Each has a presale estimate of $125,000 to $175,000.

Twelve of the lots with five-figure presale estimates are works by Russian artists of the early to mid-20th century. They are among the approximately 40 being offered in the session that came from private collectors and the Munich auction house Hampel Kunstauktionen. At times, they seem to defy the socialist realism movement imposed on the Soviet Union in the 1930s.

A still life of plums and a pink flower by Ilya Mashkov ($60,000 to $80,000) might pass muster. But a cubist still life by Nadezhda Udaltsova ($50,000 to $70,000) seems an unlikely survivor, given Soviet disapproval of cubism as decadent.

Other top items in the session: a Mercury bronze by the American sculptor Nathaniel Choate ($45,000 to $55,000), a bronze dancer after Edgar Degas (one of four bronzes modeled on Degas works), and an oil on board panel by Balthus of a hound (each $30,000 to $50,000). Works by U.S. artists include an untitled oil on canvas by Robert Spencer ($25,000 to $35,000), an untitled depiction by John Folinsbee of a lobsterman ($12,000 to $18,000), and an autumn Bucks County scene by Fern I. Coppedge ($35,000 to $40,000).

The 350 lots in the second session, of postwar and contemporary work, include lithographs by well-known U.S. artists including Warhol, Lichtenstein, Haring, and Pettibon at prices expected to linger in the four-figure range, although a 1985 Warhol screen print, Turtle, has a presale estimate of $12,000 to $14,000.

The top presale estimates are for European works, including: Romance, an oil on canvas by Piero Dorazio ($50,000 to $70,000); Iron Bird, a statue by Cesar Baldaccini ($35,000 to $55,000); a 1944 beach scene by Theodoros Stamos ($30,000 to $50,000); and two bronzes by Jean Arp (each $60,000 to $80,000).

Previews: noon to 5 p.m. Saturday through Thursday, noon to 7 p.m. next Friday, and 9 a.m. to sale time Nov. 17 at the gallery, 333 N. Main St. For further information, call 609-397-9374.

Toy boats, toy boats. Bertoia's liquidation of the remaining Claus collection, beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday at the gallery at 2141 DeMarco Dr., just off Exit 35 of Route 55, has a mere 23 vessels, air, and land vehicles with presale estimates of five figures or more. But the top lot among them is expected to trump the Hart bronzes.

According to the online version of the auction catalog accessible at, Chicago, a Marklin paddle wheeler made around 1901, has a presale estimate of $200,000 to $250,000. The 31-inch-long clockwork model with captain and crew appears on the cover of Claus' authoritative book on his hobby, The Allure of Toy Ships.

Sixteen other Marklin boats have five-figure presale estimates, including a circa-1912 live-steam ocean liner, the

Kronprinz Wilhelm ($90,000 to $100,000); a clockwork yacht, the Jolanda ($25,000 to $30,000); a 30-inch clockwork submarine, originally intended to dive, perhaps; and a sailboat sand toy on wheels (each $10,000 to $12,000).

Other wheeled vehicles in the auction include a circa-1902 Lionel 2 7/8 gauge City Hall Park trolley, the earliest Lionel model, so-called because of the width of its tracks ($12,000 to $15,000); and an electric-powered Vol-tamp interurban trolley with decorated interior and what may have been the original headlight bulb ($14,000 to $15,000).

Airborne vessels include a 23½-inch Tippco clockwork Graf Zeppelin that may have flown from a string ($4,000 to $5,000); a circa-1930s Tippco fighter bomber with bombs; and a Bing seaplane with a 16-inch wingspan (each $2,000 to $2,500). More affordable lots include a 2-inch Crackerjack Toonerville Trolley ($250 to $350) and a group of sailor's hat bands for Norddeutscher Lloyd and the Bismark, among others ($200 to $300).

Previews: 9 a.m. to 5 pm. Friday and 9 a.m. to sale time Saturday . For further information, call 856-692-1881.

Dolls at Alderfer's. Beginning at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at its gallery at 501 Fairgrounds Rd., Hatfield, Alderfer Auction & Appraisal will offer a single-owner collection of dolls, parts, and accessories from the estate of Nancy Scarpill, with 150 of the most important lots also being offered at beginning at noon. The top lot, according to the auction catalog prepared by doll consultant Roxanne LeMay Morison, is a Parisian 24-inch J. Steiner antique bisque-head doll that once had a voice box ($2,500 to $3,500).

Other top lots: a 15-inch J. Steiner bisque head with an 1889 Parisian gold medal, and a 19-inch, red-stamp Jumeau bisque head (each $1,500 to $2,500). Also of interest: an antique bisque-head "kissing" doll whose head turns when the legs are moved. It also has a cord on the back that controls arm movements so she can throw a kiss ($400 to $500).

Previews: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. to sale time Wednesday. For further information, call 215-393-3023.

Contact David Iams at

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