CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. - Antique toy dealer Tom Miano will have one of the biggest auctions of his shop's 17-year history in mid-January and says for Serious Toyz' clients, "This is not about gifts."
"This is about yourself," Miano said. "More often, these purchases are driven by nostalgia, obsession and lust. "It's very hard to give a collector a gift."
Even if a local wanted to stop in at his 1 Baltic Place shop and purchase a more than 50-year-old Barbie doll, a set of soldiers or a tin robot, they couldn't -- not this month anyway. The shop is so stuffed with merchandise for the mid-January auction that its normal inventory has been relegated to the basement.
"Normally you can," stop in and purchase a toy, Miano said, "but, we're so full for the auction we had to move our inventory downstairs."
Owning a toy store that doesn't sell toys for the holidays is "one of the many ironies," of owning Serious Toyz, he said.
The premier item in January's auction is a Jimi Hendrix poster from a 1969 European tour. Miano is hoping the rare psychedelic print will fetch between $8,000 and $10,000.
Before owning a toy store, Miano was an art director at large advertising agencies, such as McCann Erickson. "Now, I'm smiling every day," he said.
Miano said he got into the business after selling an item here and there to support his own collection. A few of his own toys include two Ducati motorcycles and a collection of jokes, gags and pranks from the 1890s. That collection contains a wide variety of amusements -- exploding cigars, what-not's designed to shock you and spring-loaded snakes "jumping out of anything you can think of."
Miano's young apprentice, Phil Fortuna, helps with the workload associated with producing a nearly 100-page full color catalogue of the almost 1,000 items in the auction, running a private online auction house and taking live telephone bids.
Most toys Fortuna's age couldn't make it into Miano's shop, but Fortuna says he didn't need to play with the merchandise as a kid to be fascinated.
"The older toys are better toys. They don't make toys like they used to," Fortuna said.
Fortuna said, for example, the realism of some cap guns is shocking. Other antique toys would be considered downright dangerous by today's standards, such as those that allowed children to melt lead pellets or plastics to create their own toy soldiers.
Those interested in Serious Toyz upcoming auction can obtain a full color copy of the catalogue at Serious Toyz, or contact the shop at 914-271-TOYZ for more information.