Toy Antiques

Toy Antiques

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  1. Exactly how old does a toy have to be to earn the classification of antique? According to the U.S. Customs Service, an item must be greater than 100 years old to legally be called an antique. Some collectors may consider any toy made prior to the 1960s to be antique. The term can be used rather loosely and may be more of a reflection of the collector’s age. Either way, toy antiques have become all the rage in the world of collectibles, ranking in the top five of collectibles in America.

    Deciding What to Collect

    Unlike other forms of antique collecting, toy antiques can be easier on the pocketbook, depending on what you choose to collect. You may have a favorite toy from childhood that never fails to evoke nostalgic feelings and fond memories, or maybe you would prefer to collect toys made by a toy company no longer in existence.

    There is a vast variety of collectible toys: dolls, yo-yos, popular board games, tin toys and trucks, toy cars and teddy bears just to name a few. To avoid costly mistakes and disappointing purchases, learn everything you can about the type of antique toys, brand of toys, or era of toys you would like to collect before venturing into the marketplace. There are a number of helpful sources on toy antiques.

    • Trade magazines
    • Museums
    • Price guides
    • Library books
    • Antiques shows
    • Antique-toy dealers

    Learn to recognize particular periods, styles and materials that are relevant to toy antiques. Develop a thorough understanding of the value of the toys you collect, but above all, collect what appeals to you and brings you enjoyment.

    Where to Find Antique Toys

    To find the best examples of the toy antiques you collect, you will have to spend some time searching. Antique-toy dealers are an excellent source of toys as well as information on how to successfully build your collection. Finding independent antiques shops with large selections of toy antiques will probably prove more fruitful than general antiques dealer who may be unfamiliar with the antique toy field.

    Antiques Shows – Held on several occasions throughout the year, antiques shows will usually draw at least a few dealers with antique toys, but collectible toy and doll shows are your best chance to find knowledgeable toy dealers. Often there will be a larger assortment of toys at these shows than collectors could ever find in years of searching through shops and run-of-the-mill antiques shows.

    Auctions – Before heading to auction in search of toy antique collectibles, you would be wise to brush up on your knowledge of auction formats and bidding techniques. With only an instant to make a buying decision, it is essential to thoroughly examine all items of interest before the bidding begins. Auctions are highly competitive so it is important to have firm knowledge of toy antiques.

    Yard Sales, Flea Markets and Thrift Shops – Bargains can often be found in these places by knowledgeable collectors since sellers are seldom aware of the toys’ value.

    Other Toy Collectors – One of the best sources of quality toy antiques is other collectors who often sell their duplicates or buy items with the intention of trading them.

    Popular Toy Antiques

    If you are looking at toy collecting as an investment opportunity, it will pay to know the toy antiques for which collectors are searching. Searching websites that buy and sell antique toys is a practical way to find the more popular collectible toys and current auction prices. There are some collectible antique toys that have always been, and remain popular with collectors.

    • Barbies
    • Dolls
    • Model cars
    • Model trains
    • Tin-plated and cast iron toys
    • Baseball cards
    • Board games
    • Wind-up toys
    • Comic books
    • Toy soldiers

    A number of toy brands are often coveted by seasoned collectors.

    • Disney
    • Fisher Price
    • Louis Marx
    • Tonka
    • Hasbro
    • Mattel
    • Milton Bradley
    • A.C. Gilbert
    • Meccano
    • Marklin
    • Gebruder Bing

    One more highly sought after toy antique is the View-Master Reel, the popular device for viewing 3-D images on a paper disk. Production of the View-Master was stopped in December of 2008 by Fisher-Price, which at the time, was a subsidiary of Mattel. The View-Master toy was created in 1939 and was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 1999 for its long-playing role in toy history.

    What is it Worth?

    Antique price guides are readily available online and in bookstores and libraries. If you have done your research on the toy you wish to collect, you should already be aware of what constitutes good, excellent or mint condition for that particular item. When you find a desirable example of your collectible, peruse through the price guides-there may be a picture or description of a similar item.

    Look for the manufacturer’s label or logo or the maker’s mark on the toy. It may even have a date or copyright stamped on it, depending on the item. Ask the seller about the toy’s history to get any information which may help you determine its value. If they are a collector also, they may know what the toy is worth, but do your own homework to verify the given value.

    With toy collecting it is sometimes more about rarity and condition than age. The more rare the toy, the more it will be worth. Condition also determines its value. Scratches, scuffs, missing or broken parts, original tags or packaging will all have an effect on the price of toy antiques.

    More Than Just Collectibles

    Whether you decide to do it for investment or pleasure, assembling your collection is sure to supply an entertaining journey. Antique toys are more than just collectibles. They are a reflection of by-gone days when toys were works of art, hand-crafted by gifted artisans and skilled designers. The durability and meticulously-painted details of these charming collectibles is their hallmark of quality.

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