Ever since Milestone Auctions’ October 2023 debut offering of toys from the Elmer’s Toy Museum collection, the question many vintage toy fans have been asking is, “When will we see Part II?” Their long wait ended on May 11 when the suburban Cleveland auction house rolled out 774 lots of tin windups, battery-operated toys, pressed steel trucks, Japanese tin cars, Dooling gas racers, and both automotive and character toys from Germany’s prewar era.

The single-consignor event closed the books at $460,000, a figure that was comfortably within Milestone’s range of expectations and a full $100,000 above the overall low estimate. “Across all categories, better things brought better prices. Some of the numbers were insane, like on the Atom Jet Racer and the small Lionel autos,” Milestone Auctions co-owner Miles King said. “European toys were shipped everywhere, and the number of bidders for postwar Japanese toys was way up – collector interest just keeps on growing for that particular category.”

Made by Yonezawa, the wildly futuristic tin friction #58 Atom Jet Racer finished at the top of prices realized. With its distinctive midcentury colors, a toothy chrome grille, and cool 1950s-1960s graphics, the oversize toy measured an impressive 26 inches long and had all its bells and whistles. Sought after by collectors of race cars as well as postwar Japanese toy aficionados, Atom Jet always creates a stir on those rare occasions when an example appears at auction. At Milestone’s sale, it stormed across the finish line to claim $25,740 against an estimate of $10,000-$15,000.

Lionel is a revered American toy train company, but over the years they’ve produced a number of interesting sidelines. An unusual Lionel production from the Elmer’s Toy Museum collection was a rare 1912 #80 Automobile Outfit containing an orange race car, both original drivers, and a metal track. The set appeared never to have been played with and even retained its original cardboard box with Lionel company advertising on the exterior. It sold for $10,238, more than five times the high estimate. Immediately following its production of #80, Lionel produced the same set with a red car, also with two original driver figures. Set #81, also in beautiful, untouched condition and with its original Lionel cardboard box, also commanded more than five times the high estimate, retiring at $10,530.

The sale featured two prized “Gordon Bennet” tin windup racers, named for an early 20th century New York playboy and sportsman who made headlines with his foolhardy adventures in yachting, hot air ballooning, aviation and motor racing. The racer made by Issmayer (Germany), measuring 7-1/2 inches long, presented in excellent condition with a functional clockwork mechanism and both of its original passenger figures. It charged past its presale estimate of $4,000-$6,000 to settle at $10,148.

Another German toy that boasted high condition was a Lehmann (Germany) 7-inch tin windup Taxi Cab lithographed in a mustard color with black roof and running boards. It was 100% complete and original, even retaining its liveried driver and Lehmann-logo’d fabric flag on the hood. Estimated at $400-$600, it gliding to a final price of $3,198.

Rough-tough pressed steel toys of the postwar era are special favorites to collectors who remember playing with them as children. A premier brand of that time was Tonka, whose construction toys were built to last. Unfortunately for collectors, few have survived in spotless, boxed condition simply because they were so tempting to play with. The late Elmer Duellman’s collection contained several beautiful examples, including hard to find boxed sets. A 1955 Tonka #775-5 Road Builder Set consisting of a semi with lowboy trailer, steam shovel, road grader and dump truck was complete in its original, correctly partitioned box. The presale estimate was set at $1,500-$2,000, but it paved its way to a winning bid of $5,850. Yet another Tonka treasure that set the room ablaze was a 1959 B-12 Fire Department set 1959 Tonka B-212 Fire Department set. In very fine, unplayed-with-condition, it included a good-looking 30-inch fire ladder truck, a fire pumper truck and a set box that Tonka had cleverly lithographed to resemble a burning apartment building. It sold for $3,960 against an estimate of $800-$1,200.

Showing off its sleek lines and Art Deco styling, a Steelcraft New York/San Francisco streamline bus was another pressed steel highlight. In all-original condition with excellent paint, the 21-inch-long transport vehicle sold well above its high estimate, for $2,640.

A crowd-charmer that captured Disney fans’ attention was a coveted Dean’s Rag Mickey Mouse soft doll on a metal scooter. All original and in very nice condition, the 8-inch rarity whizzed pasts its $800-$1,000 estimate to apply the brakes at $5,658.

After the sale, Miles King expressed his delight with the continued global interest in Elmer Duellman’s toys. “From start to finish, an overwhelming percentage of bids came in either through the Internet and by phone. We were very happy to see how many of those bids were from other countries. Our overseas customer list just keeps on growing, and we think that’s because collectors like what we offer and, no matter where they are located, appreciate the way they are treated – before, during and after the sale.”

Milestone can be reached at (440) 527-8060 or info@milestoneauctions.com and online at www.milestoneauctions.com to discuss consigning a collection or just a single vintage toy to a future auction. All enquiries are kept strictly confidential.