If ever a toy collection was designed to delight adults as much as children, it's the magnificent Jerni Collection – the world's largest collection of vintage toys and train sets. The collection includes upwards of 35,000 toys, some dating as far back as 1850.
As one of the world’s oldest toy collections, the Jerni Collection is also interesting for historical reasons. Many of the train stations, bridges and buildings depicted by the train miniatures were destroyed in either World War I or World War II.
The history of the Jerni Collection
Jerry Greene from New York collected the toys over a period of 50 years, many from toy shows and fairs in the United States and Europe. The toys are mostly handmade – some featuring incredible detail – over a period of 90 years, from 1850 up to about 1940.
Sometimes referred to as the Jerry and Nina Greene collection (the name Jerni is from the couple’s first names), the collection remained private – and was seen by few people – until it was auctioned by Sotheby’s in 2011.
“The collection has been my abiding passion but it is now time for everyone to enjoy and appreciate these wonderful objects,” Greene said in a statement when the collection was auctioned. “I hope they bring as much joy to others as they have brought to me.”
The value of the Jerni Collection
Sotheby's described the Jerni Collection as the most important collection of top-quality European and U.S. toys and trains ever assembled. At the time of the auction, it was estimated that the collection could fetch as much as US$50 million.
“I think $US40 million to $US50 million is a very comfortable number for that collection,” said Noel Barrett, an appraiser on Antiques Roadshow and president of Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions.
Why Greene chose to auction the collection
When asked why he sold the collection, Greene said, “I collected everything I could collect. The fun is in the search. I want to sell it, so that I have a clean basement. After this, I will collect something else.”
The collection is currently on display at the New York Historical Society, where it is part of a Christmas themed exhibit.
Storing collections with XtraSpace
XtraSpace offers affordable, secure self-storage units that are ideal for storing collections that have outgrown the space you have at home. Whatever you collect – from models to ornaments to toys, books, craft items, LPs or knitting paraphernalia – we can help, with impeccably clean units in a wide range of sizes.
Contact us for more information or to discuss your storage needs.