The Antique Toy Archive

The Men and the boys play Big Business with Their Toys – Jeffrey Levy antique toys

Maine Antique Digest, Oct 1990. By Lita Solis-Cohen

Mergers and acquisitions and leveraged buy-outs may be passe’ on Wall Street but not in the antique toy business.

Alexander Acevedo, the multifaceted Madison Avenue art, antiques, and jewellery dealer, has sold all his toys to Jeffrey Levy, the 33-year-old London toy dealer who calls his international toy business Mint & Boxed.

In a prepared statement, Mint & Boxed announced the purchase of the toy stock of Alexander Gallery as well as Acevedo’s personal collection, more than 1,000 toys in all, with a retail value in excess of $15 million. Mint & Boxed said it is the “single largest collection of antique toys ever acquired in one transaction.”

Mint & Boxed did not release the purchase price, and Acevedo would not say what he got for the collection, but he acknowledged it was more than he had paid for the entire Perelman Museum collection, which was $2.2 million including the building. Rumours in the trade put the figure anywhere from $4 to $10 million.

Acevedo said the deal included some restrictions. “I cannot deal in toys in my Madison Avenue gallery for three years, but I can still buy and sell at shows, and I can hold tag sales.”

Levy, heir to a whiskey fortune, started his toy business in England eight years ago after his family business was sold. He said through a press agent that he will offer the toys from the Acevedo collection for sale at his gallery at 111 high street, Edgewater, Middlesex, and at his new gallery in New York, which will open in September at 1124 Madison Avenue at 84th street.

“It will be a three-story gallery like the one in London with casual purchases on the first floor, toys priced from $10,000 to $100,000 on the second floor, and a third-floor boardroom where luncheon will be served and items in excess of $100,000 will be offered,” said Robert W. Block, public relations spokesman for Mint & Boxed in America.

According to block, a full color art book “will permanently showcase and enhance the value of the Alexander collection, two thirds of which are American toys made between 1855 and 1930.” The catalog will be available for sale in early autumn.

Vernon chamberlain, 30, a well-known Canadian toy dealer, will be the director, will be the director of Mint & Boxed in America. Eric Alberta, 30, who headed the collectibles department at Christie’s East, will manage the new gallery, and Rick McMarrow, 26, who was assistant to Alberta at Christie’s, is the administrator. At present Mint & Boxed has offices at the Roosevelt hotel in New York.

Acevedo confirmed that Levy bought all the toys in his gallery and all the toys he had taken home. “it was hard to believe I did it, when he came to my house and took every toy out,” said Acevedo.

Acevedo admitted he had already begun to collect toys again. “I bought a toy last week, and I’ll be off to Brimfield next week to look for more,” he said.

“You know, they said I was crazy when I paid $100,000 for the Charles [a toy hose reel made by George Brown in Forestville, Connecticut, in the 1870’s], and they said the guy who bought the Charles from me for $125,000 was crazy too, but he sold it to Mint & Boxed for $250,000, and then everyone said I had given it away. Now I hear Mint & Boxed put a $1 million price tag on it and sold it to a German collector. Toys are on a rampage.”

Apparently, the toy business is good all around. Hillman-Gemini, toy dealers at 65th and Madison, have moved out of their small shop and will be in larger premises at 927 Madison at 74th street in the fall. “We will have twice as much space as we had in our former gallery,” said Donald Hillman. “We think there will be a volatile chemistry between the two toy dealers on Madison Avenue only a few blocks away. We are delighted Mint & Boxed has come to New York. We welcome them. We know Jeffrey Levy and Vern Chamberlain always do things first class; it should be very good for the toy business.”

Expect the complexion of Madison Avenue to change this fall. Just as the tiffany lamp shop sprouted a few years ago, toy shops will have a larger presence, Steve Balkin, who has operated Burlington Antique Toys at the lower level of 1082 Madison Avenue for the past twelve years, greets the arrival of Mint & Boxed with enthusiasm.

“It can’t hurt the business,” said Balkin. “I’m a toy soldier expert–both antique soldiers and current production— but I also stock die-cast autos, tinplate toys, and space toys.”

Balkin used to work for Peter Blum at the Soldier Shop, which has been selling soldiers, antique and new, as well as books about them for 21 years at 1222 Madison Avenue between 88th and 89th streets.

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