Bertoia auctions to sell massive private Jerry and Nina Greene collection
Bertoia Auctions has announced it will sell the incredible Jerry Greene collection in a multi-part sale. Michael Bertoia stated “Because it is so vast, we really can’t estimate how many auctions will be required to sell it all.” The collection is truly incredible with some one-of-a-kind pieces from makers like Marklin, Bing, and Lutz.
The couple’s trains, which were purchased over several decades from a variety of sources both in the United States and abroad, have been divided into approximately 700 auction lots. There are European and American train cars, coaches and specialty cars; train stations, specialty train sets in O, 1 and (Bing) 3 gauge. The European train accessories section comprises a virtual auction unto itself.
“When you look at the Greenes’ incredible accessories arranged on twenty-four 8-foot-long tables, as they are displayed here at the gallery, you come away with quite an accurate image of what German train stations must have looked like around 1900 or 1910,” Bertoia said. “Most of them are by Marklin, a company that rarely missed any small appointment on their designs. That’s why collectors love their stations so much. If a train station roof had shingles, Marklin would realistically emboss the roof on their toy version. If a station’s base was stone, they would hand-paint the toy station’s base to replicate stone.” Marklin’s attention to accuracy extended beyond aesthetics. “You can easily imagine why children would have spent hours playing with a layout that had the types of functional accessories Marklin manufactured,” Bertoia continued. “The tower switches are electric powered and operated exactly the way real ones would have. The bells ring, the signals work, and the lamps are very realistic, with ornate bases and illuminating glass globes.”
According to Bertoia Auctions, the private collection of Jerry and Nina Greene, which Bertoia’s will auction on April 9, 2016, is in no way associated with the Jerni Collection. They are two separate and unrelated entities. Some might remember that a collection was offered through Sotheby’s several years ago in a private sale format instead of an auction. Members of the collecting community placed guesses on the total collection value, with some estimates reaching up to $50m. Although some serious offers were placed on the collection, it was not ultimately sold. Some pieces then went on display at the New York Historical Society and the collection was prepared to sell at Lankes Auktionshaus in Germany. Rumors circulated that this auction fell through because of the high taxes the seller would have to pay upon importing and selling the trains in Europe. In addition to the fluctuating exchange rates between the Dollar and the Euro there are a number of financial risks with selling the collection abroad.
The Greene family’s decision to place the collection in the hands of Bertoia Auctions seems like a wise decision given the auction house is located nearby in New Jersey. Bertoia Auctions has established a fairly solid reputation for itself in high-class toys with several impressive auctions each year.
Update 2/28/2016: The article was updated to reflect that the private collection of Jerry and Nina Greene is in no way associated with the “Jerni Collection.”