The Anita & Sedwick Hellman Collection of Toys

  • Live Online Auction: Saturday, November 12, at 11:30 PDT
  • Online Preview: Through November 12

Turner Auctions + Appraisals is pleased to feature the Anita & Sedwick Hellman Toy Collection. Offering over 245 lots amassed from coast to coast over 50 years, the collection includes toy cars, trains, guns, airplanes, tin toys, dolls and more.  

Residents of Mamaroneck, New York, Anita and Sedwick Hellman were avid toy collectors for five decades.  Sedwick was a funeral director in a multi-generation family business.  His wife Anita, a flamboyant beauty with striking red hair, was an elementary schoolteacher for 28 years at the Osborn School in Rye, a top public school in New York.  During summer vacations, the Hellmans made collecting a fun family affair, taking their son Jaime, now a TV producer in New York, on cross-country collecting trips from New York to California and Maine to Louisiana for a month or two at a time.  During their forays in the mid-1960s to early-1970s, the family traveled in their ‘home away from home’ – first a small International Harvester school bus, converted with beds and a kitchen; then in one of the first commercially built motor homes. 

At other times, the Hellmans regularly frequented East Coast antique shows and dealers, flea markets, and church and garage sales to expand their collection, traveling beyond New York to Vermont, Pennsylvania and other parts of New England.  Anita was partial to dolls and collected hundreds over the years.  Her husband enjoyed toys of all kinds.  Both were on the hunt for great buys – looking for toys of value, in good shape, and ones that caught their fancy. 

Over the decades, Jaime Hellman estimates their collection numbered from 2,000 to 3,000 items – creating one of the largest collections on the East Coast.  Moreover, according to a magazine feature in “Of Westchester” from about 1975, it was considered to be “one of outstanding toy collections in [that] part of the country.”  While the pursuit itself was paramount, learning about toys was important too, and the couple did painstaking research on their acquisitions and the subject overall.  Their hope was to someday have a toy museum and share their pleasures of their collecting efforts with others.

In addition to teaching, on the weekends, Anita ran Hellman & Hellman Antiques in Larchmont, New York, for 15 years.  In the 1980s, after her husband passed away, Anita moved first to Santa Monica, then to Santa Barbara, where she continued collecting toys, showcasing them in her home.  While her passion for toys continued through the years, she also collected costume jewelry, Asian-influenced antiques, ABC plates, hats, American paintings and antique furniture.

Reflecting on his parents’ toy collecting, which was such a memorable part of his childhood, Jaime Hellman has some thoughts.  Both his parents were Depression-era kids and not likely to have had many toys growing up.  Perhaps their collection was a way to make up for what they missed as children.  But their quest created many adult pleasures as well:  50 years of an enjoyable and passionate hunt, frequent travel all over the country, acquiring the “cream of the crop,” and ultimately amassing a collection that was “as eclectic as they were,” says their son.

Mrs. Hellman passed away in late 2015.  Jaime, not a collector himself, is fearful his parents’ beloved toys would end up unseen and unappreciated in storage boxes.  So he is now passing them along to others.  “It’s time,” he says. “They’re ready to move on the next phase in their little toy lives, and find other mothers and fathers who will take care of them.”

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