Aunt Len, otherwise known as Lenon Holder Hoyte, began collecting dolls after she staged a doll show in 1962 to raise money for the Harlem Hospital Mental Health Clinic in New York.
It fired her imagination and she began collecting dolls world-wide until she had amassed enough to open a doll museum in the basement of her home in Harlem.
Now in her eighties, Mrs Hoyte was a pioneer in the doll world, collecting at a time when people believed that cloth, composition and wood dolls were junk. The collection is expected to make up to £470,000.
One of the most unusual features of the sale at Sotheby's in New York is the rare German JD Kestner interchangeable head doll in its original box,estimated at £4,600 to £6,000. The doll, dating from about 1910, has three alternative heads. and might be better suited to serial killer rather than the average child.
The sale comprises the most exceptional two-thirds of Mrs Hoyte's collection, about 1,500 dolls.
There is also a dandified tin mechanical man with a clockwork mechanism which gives him the appearance of guffawing (about £330 to £530) and a head preacher toy which stands at a pulpit with strings at its base which can be pulled to make the figure swayfervently, raise his arms, and turn his head from side to side (£2,000 to £2,500).Reuse content