Secret, Monumental Toy Collection for Sale at Sotheby’s

January 26, 2011 Updated: February 17, 2011

GOLDEN AGE TOYS: 'Magnificent Toys and Trains: Selections of the Jerni Collection' is on view until Feb. 28. This is Marklin's largest and most elaborate single station produced before the Second World War, ca. 1904.  (Courtesy of Sotheby's)
GOLDEN AGE TOYS: 'Magnificent Toys and Trains: Selections of the Jerni Collection' is on view until Feb. 28. This is Marklin's largest and most elaborate single station produced before the Second World War, ca. 1904. (Courtesy of Sotheby's)
A secret toy collection spanning 50 years, and consisting of more than 35,000 objects will be offered for private sale at Sotheby’s as a single lot. It has never been seen by the public before.

Throughout January and February, Sotheby’s will exhibit selections from the Jerni Collection, the largest and most comprehensive collection of magnificent quality European and American toys and trains ever assembled.

The lot is expected to go for tens of millions of dollars.

“We aren't able to comment on any asking price for this private sale other than to say it is worth well into eight figures,” Dan Abernethy wrote in an email response.

Amazingly, a mere 20 percent of the collection will cover the whole floor of Sotheby’s York Avenue headquarters.

“Imagine a vast space filled with the rarest toys in the most perfect condition,” said David Redden, Sotheby’s Vice Chairman in a press release. “The Jerni Collection is a passionate homage to the Golden Age of toy making, but on a scale that is breathtaking. Tens of thousands of miniature works of art; trains, stations, villages, carousels, Ferris wheels, conjure up a privileged childhood world of beauty, magic and sheer happiness. To see this collection is to be moved beyond words.”

The dedicated collector who assembled the collection piece-by-piece is one of the world's leading authorities on model trains and toys. Jerry Greene placed a high emphasis on quality and condition. With pieces dating from around 1850—1940, the immense collection includes toys and trains from every major European and American manufacturer operating during that period, chronicling the Golden Age of European toy manufacturing.

TOY DEBUT: A selection of highlights from the world's largest toy collection is on display, and for sale at Sotheby's until Feb. 28.  (Courtesy of Sotheby's)
TOY DEBUT: A selection of highlights from the world's largest toy collection is on display, and for sale at Sotheby's until Feb. 28. (Courtesy of Sotheby's)
“Assembling this collection has been a 50-year journey for me,” Jerry Greene, owner of this remarkable collection, told Sotheby’s. “I put it together piece-by-piece, and my quest for the highest quality trains and toys took me to thousands of toy fairs and shows. The collection has been my abiding passion but it is now time for everyone to enjoy and appreciate these wonderful objects. I hope they bring as much joy to others as they have brought to me.”

It includes hundreds of unique handmade and historically significant European items, including depictions of actual rail stations, bridges and buildings, many of which were destroyed in the First and Second World Wars.

“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,” noted Joe Freeman, renowned toy expert and restorer in the press release.

Highlights from the collection are on exhibit at Sotheby’s headquarters until Feb. 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 1334 York Ave. at 72nd St., New York.

Source: Sotheby's