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 exhibition takes up an entire floor of Sotheby’s York Avenue headquarters, yet remarkably, what is on view represents a mere 20% of the tens of thousands of objects included in the collection. The entire collection is available for private sale through Sotheby’s as a single lot.
“Imagine a vast space filled with the rarest toys in the most perfect condition,” said David Redden, Sotheby’s Vice Chairman. “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.”
“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.
“Assembling this collection has been a 50 year journey for me,” commented Jerry Greene, owner of this remarkable collection. “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.”
The more 35,000 objects in The Jerni Collection were assembled piece-by-piece over a 50 year period by a single dedicated collector who is one of the world’s leading authorities on model trains and toys and who placed an emphasis on quality and condition. The pieces date from roughly 1850–1940, and form an encyclopedic collection of toys and trains from every major European and American manufacturer operating during this period including Märklin, Bing, Ernst Plank Carette and Rock & Graner, chronicling the ‘Golden Age’ of European toy manufacturing. 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.
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.
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.