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Collectors vie for rare toys at auction

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BRASHER FALLS — Toy tractors, robots and cars were up for bid Saturday at the Antique and Collectible Toy Auction at the River Rock Auction Co., 37 Munson Road.

“The north country has never seen an auction quite like this,” said auction house owner Arno Lippassaar.

Most of the items came from the large collection of farm toys belonging to Henry A. Wilson, a Norfolk resident who died in April.

The highlight of the auction was Mr. Wilson’s large collection of die-cast model farm equipment and ridable pedal tractors.

The auction also included a collection of rare Japanese toy robots and merchandise from the British television show “Doctor Who.”

The hall was filled with potential bidders. Some were regular visitors to the River Rock Auction Co., while others came from far away to bid on the toys and collectibles. One phone bidder called in from New York City to get in on the action, while others traveled from as far as Rochester to participate in person.

John W. Wintermute and daughter Kim M. Feeley drove more than two hours from Willsboro, in Essex County. Mr. Wintermute, who sells antiques and is particularly interested in toys, said this auction was even better than he expected. He especially liked the large collection of pedal cars, which can be hard to find.

“I’m really going to spend some money here today, I’m afraid,” he said.

The auctions are a regular event for Paul K. Ashline, Moira. He said he didn’t have any particular item in mind on Saturday, but he frequently purchases items from River Rock.

“I don’t think I’ve missed one this year,” Mr. Ashline said.

Mr. Lippassaar was a toy dealer before he opened the auction house two years ago, so he has a pretty good idea of what the items up for bid are worth. For things he is less certain about, he uses the Internet or calls experts. But at an auction, he said, it doesn’t do much good to see how an item is valued.

“It doesn’t matter what the Internet says it’s worth; it matters what two people are willing to pay for it,” he said.

Extra attention was paid to the large collection of pedal tractors. Some interested buyers wanted them for their collectible value, while others just wanted to share a piece of their childhood with their own children.

“You can’t buy them anywhere anymore,” Mr. Lippassaar said.

One antique truck made in 1920 netted $1,000, the highest return on any item.

Mr. Lippassaar said he did not want to disclose the total amount of money made by the auction, although he said it was 80 percent higher than he had projected.

“The collectors were there, and they were hungry for it,” he said.


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