Last year, a collection of rare antique toys amassed by the late millionaire Malcolm Forbes and his sons fetched $2.3 million at Sotheby’s. Now, the renowned auction house is proudly auctioning The World’s Greatest Toy and Train Collection with an estimated value in $10 million. It’s so large that 5,000 pieces alone fill the entire floor of Sotheby’s auction house in New York, where they are on display until the end of the month. The collector, Jerry Greene, has kept the collection in five basement rooms of his suburban Philadelphia home, Sotheby’s said.
The Jerni Collection includes over 305,000 objects assembled piece-by-piece over a 50 year period by a Mr. Greene. Greene likely developed his love for toy collecting from his father, who was a toy-train dealer. He began collecting toys and trains at the age of 18, and today, at age 67, the Pennsylvania-based music executive has acquired more than 1,600 sets of trains, 10,000 figures, and 700 stations.
Included within the lot are hand-painted station houses, bridges, Ferris wheels, barges and hundreds of figurines with some examples adorned in 19th century Prussian army uniforms. According to Stoheby’s, prominent pieces include replications of structures that were destroyed in World War II and countless handmade and antique toys, trains, and more manufactured by major names in toy making like Marklin, Bing, Ernst Plank Carette and Rock & Graner. Of special note is Marklin’s largest and most elaborate train station produced in 1904, it is the only known single station featuring double doors in its center.
Of all the collections I have seen in over 40 years in business, The Jerni Collection is by far the largest and most extensive with hundreds of rare examples I’ve never seen before, said Joe Freeman, a renowned toy expert and restorer.
The Jerni Collection is the greatest toy and train collection in the world and this is the first time that any portion of it has been shown to the public. The collection will be sold as a single lot. Sotheby’s said Greene hopes a public institution or individual will acquire all the toys and donate the collection to a museum. [Sotheby’s]