Part of the Jerni Collection. (click on image to enlarge)
THE greatest toy and train collection in the world is available for private sale through Sotheby’s as a single lot. Now on show in New York the Jerni Collection is estimated at 10 million dollars by Sotheby’s. Others say it could be worth $40/50 million.
What is on view throughout January and February represents about 20% of a collection of 35,000 objects assembled over 50 years by a single dedicated collector. The pieces date from roughly 1850–1940, and form an encyclopedic collection of toys and trains from every major European and American manufacturer including Märklin, Bing, Ernst Plank Carette and Rock & Graner, chronicling the ‘Golden Age’ of European toy manufacturing.
“Assembling this collection has been a 50 year journey for me,” commented Jerry Greene, 67, a Pennsylvania-based music executive who owns the collection. “They survived both world wars. For me it’s part of history.”
Half of the collection was made by Maerklin. Some are outfitted with working fountains and clocks; many are replicas of the actual buildings in Europe. A highlight is an elevated train platform from 1895 with two curved staircases parting like a curtain at the center. “I put it together piece-by-piece” Greene said. Like all true collectors the fun for him has been the search. Now that he is ready to part with it he thinks he will start collecting something else.