The most entertaining of all antiques, toys constitute one of the fastest growing fields of collecting. They appeal to people of all ages:
For children, of course, toys give countless hours of  amusement, and for adults, too, they provide delights, not only because
playthings are poignant reminders of youth, but also because they convey fascinating glimpses into the values, styles, and technology
of earlier eras.

Toys have captivated Americans for more than a century-from 19th-century rocking horses and early 20th-century touring cars to
rockets of the 1960s. Also included are European toys that were frequently exported to America.

Toy collecting is a relatively new field, and only in the past twenty years has it attracted large numbers of collectors and inspired
specialized auctions, collectors, clubs and scholarly research. The first toys collected in the United States were banks and trains. In
the 1930s some bankers began to acquire a variety of cast-iron mechanical banks and still banks, primarily for commercial display.
Toy trains began to interest collectors in the 1950s, and, even today, antique train collecting is one of the most popular specialties.

Prior to 1850 most toys were one-of-a-kind pieces, with the exception of wooden examples produced in vast quantities by the German
cottage industry. Today's toy collectors are most interested in mass-produced toys made during the mid-19th century; however, toys
manufactured in the 1960s and '70s are also being collected as investments, the most popular being the large
Buddy L Moving Van
and
Sturditoy trucks

A Simple Way to Identify
Antique Toys  
Toys are incredibly varied, ranging from simple building blocks and lead soldiers to elaborate tinplate locomotives with clockwork
motors and mechanical banks with moving figures. To help collectors understand this vast array, there are books available (some in
your local library) that organize toys by type, materials, manufacturers and other organizational classes. This is by far the best way to
get started.

Games and Paper Toys
Inexpensive to produce and easy to transport, paper toys and board games have long been a sideline for printers in Europe and,
later, in the United States. They can be traced an the way back to ancient Chinese shadow puppets, figures manipulated before a light
to cast shadows. These were the fore-bearers of the cardboard dancing puppets with movable limbs that were popular in France in
the 18th and early 19th centuries. Paper kites and playing cards also originated in  the Orient and were introduced to Europe in the
15th century.

The first card games were made for gambling, but by the 18th century some had religious or educational themes, ranging in subject
from literature and grammar to geography and botany. It was not until the mid-19th century that the purpose of cards like that of board
game, shifted fully to the pursuit of pleasure and amusement. While the earliest cards were drawn and colored by hand, by the 1600s
they were stenciled and engraved, creating products that were more uniform and less expensive appraisals. Color lithography,
introduced in the late 19th century, led to the production of cards on a vast scale.

Although board games date back to antiquity, the earliest known European example called Goose was played in 16th-century Italy. In
1759 Carrington Bowles of London produced Journey through Europe or the Play of Geography, one of the first educational board
games. Prior to the American Revolution, most printed games played in the Colonies were imported from England. One of the first
games published in America was the Lottery of the Pious or the Spiritual Treasure Casket printed by Christopher Sower of
Gerrnantown, Pennsylvania, in 1744. The  first American publisher to produce antique games in quantity was W. & S. B. Ives, who
issued the now well-known game Dr. Busby around the 1850s.

Early Tinplate Toys
Vintage Tin Toys
The material tinplate consists of thin sheets of steel covered with tin. It has been used in Europe since the late 18th century to make
kitchenware and small metal objects, including some toys. As far back as the 1820's, a few tinsmiths made simple antique tinplate toys
such as bubble pipes and whistles along with such household objects as buckets, spoons, and plates. But until the tin ore mines were
opened in Galena, Illinois, in the 1840s, most American tin had to be imported, making all tinplate products fairly expensive. Once local
tin ore became available, American manufacturers gradually began to apply European innovations, such as the mechanical press for
stamping metal subsequently into
pressed steel toys, Buddy L toys

Tinplate was ideal for toy making. Not only was it lightweight, but it could be easily shaped by machines, which cut it into forms and
bent these pieces. They were then soldered together or, after 1881, fastened together with tabs and slots stamped directly onto the
tinplate pieces.

One of the earliest tin shops was the Philadelphia
Tin Toys Manufactory founded in the 1850s as a subsidiary of Francis, Field &
Francis, which had been established in 1838 to make tinplate kitchenware. One of the most innovative shops was founded in 1856 by
George W. Brown, a designer whose sketchbook, discovered a few years ago, has provided valuable information about early
American tinplate toys. He and his. partner, Chauncey Goodrich, adapted clockwork motors made by Connecticut clock-making firms
to create some of the first mechanical toys in America. Brown continued to produce toys into the late 1870s, competing with such
growing new firms as Altha, Bergman, established in 1867, James Fallows, who began his operation in 1874, and Leo Schlesinger,
who started his shop in 1875. These firms produced stationary, pull toys, and clockwork tinplate toys, all of which were painted by
hand. Because tinplate toys were lightweight and hollow, they were well suited for mechanization appraisals.

In 1868 Edward Ives opened a shop in Plymouth, Connecticut, moving to Bridgeport two years later. An innovator and an astute
businessman, Ives bought out a number of small firms. He produced new kinds of toy vehicles and trains, many of which bad clockwork
motors that could run for up to half an hour; most of these clockwork mechanisms were made by local clock factories, including the
New Haven Clock Company.

Late Tinplate Toys
During the 1880s European toy makers began to manufacture inexpensive spring-driven tinplate toys on a vast scale, capturing a
major share of the American market. Their products were charming and much less expensive than American tinplate clockwork toys
because they used stamped tinplate gears rather than heavy brass gears. European toy making was almost completely mechanized.
From humming tops, trains, and trolleys to mechanical animals on wheels and figures pulling carts (pull toys), tinplate toys were made
in amazing variety. By 1900 one-third of all tinplate toys made in Germany were sold in the United States. Some of the most prominent
antique tinplate toy-makers were the German firms Lehmann, Marklin, and Bing, and the French company Fernand Martin. Lehmann
sold ninety percent of its toys overseas. Some of Martin's toys were exported, but most were sold in France by street peddlers or in
variety stores. Many German toys mass-produced after 1890 bear patent and copyright marks such as the initials "O.R.G.M.," an
abbreviation for
Sturditoy Deutsches Reichs Gebrauchmuster.

Recognizing the great potential of this expanding market. American firms also began to produce large quantities of spring-driven
tinplate toys in the early 20th century, sacrificing quality for low-cost production. Among the major companies were those of Julius
Chein, active beginning in 1903, Strauss, established in 1914, and Louis Marx, who in the
1920s and 1930s produced a variety of fine
windup toys, many of which depicted radio or movie appraisals of celebrities or cartoon characters unique to
Buddy L toys

During World War II, the production of tinplate toys was discontinued because of the scarcity of raw materials, After the war, large
numbers of these toys were produced by Japanese, Korean, and even Chinese firms. However, in the 1970s production of most
tinplate toys ceased, when the material was replaced by plastic. Antique
Buddy L prices displayed throughout the website related to
vintage
pressed steel toys only.

Cast Iron Toys
American manufacturers excelled in making
cast-iron toys! Because it was cast in molds, iron could be used to produce thousands of
identical objects at modest costs. This was particularly appealing to American toy makers during the second half of the 19th century,
because increased prosperity had produced a growing market as well as higher labor costs. European makers had been using iron for
wheels and other components of tinplate or wooden toys since the 18th century, but with the exception of some English banks, they
never fully exploited the advantages of this material. Americans, however, were quick to see its virtues.

Cast Iron Banks and Horse Drawn Vehicles
Most cast-iron toys appeared relatively late on the American scene. The industry got into high gear only after the Civil War, fueled in
part by the discovery of vast iron ore reserves. Following the Victorian age the Sturditoy dump truck and
Buddy L Flire truck were
introduced

Cast-iron toys fall into several categories including banks, cannons, vehicles, and miscellaneous objects such as miniature tools and
dollhouse furniture. By far the most important cast-iron toys to collectors are the antique banks and
antique toy cars, trucks and other
vehicles.

Banks were of two types: still banks, which were similar to the repositories for coins that had existed for centuries, and toy mechanical
banks, ingenious devices in which the deposit of a coin produced some action, such as a mule kicking or the likes. Still banks
appeared in the late 1860s, while the first still banks were often made of tinplate or other materials, cast iron was employed for all but
the latest mechanical ones. Among the major American producers were Strauss, Sheppard and Hubley. With the exception of
reproductions, practically no cast iron mechanical banks have been made since the 1920s. Cast-iron "still banks" are still produced,
but they usually lack the charm of early
antique toy pieces.

The most diversified cast iron toys are the vehicles. Thousands of types by dozens of makers exist, yet these were the last cast iron
playthings to appear on the market. Ives, Blakeslee & Williams offered walking horses, horse-drawn fire wagons, carriages, wagons,
and sleighs, and also lines of pull and spring-driven floor trains, printing presses, and stoves, all by 1900. Though gradually
supplanted by other, cheaper metals, cast iron continued to be used to make
toy trains, trucks, cars, planes, and the like until World
War II including the
Buddy L Cement Mixer.


In their mimicking of full-size vehicles, the makers of antique or collectible cast-iron toys followed the lead of the tinplate toy
manufacturers, even to the extent of producing versions of vehicles that were no longer in use. Thus, many turn-of-the-century,
cast-iron horse-drawn vehicles have an archaic look that might lead inexperienced collectors to assume they are much older than they
are. After 1900 remarkably accurate versions of such popular vehicles as the Model T Ford Buddy L Flivver, Yellow Cab, Cord
Supercharger, and Mack Truck appeared. Makers of these accurate examples include Hubley, Arcade, and Dent.

Antique cars, trucks, and trains constituted the majority of these toys.
Buddy L Trains, Airplanes and even dirigibles appeared in the
1920s. There are also a few ships, the most interesting of which are the 19th century steamboats by makers such as Ives. Only a few
of these vehicles are powered -- usually by clockwork mechanisms -- since the weight of the iron made such animation impractical.

When most toy soldiers were made of lead or other alloys, one American firm, Grey Iron of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, did manufacture
soldiers made of cast iron. In fact, although this metal had long been used for the various figures associated with cast-iron vehicles,
such as drivers, engineers, and passengers,  Grey is thought to have been the world's only producer of military figures in cast iron. In
1917 Grey was granted a patent for forty-millimeter soldiers, termed the Grey Klip Armie, which the firm continued to make until 1941.
The first examples were nickel plated, but by 1933 realistically painted ones were available.   

Pressed Steel Toys
While steel has been used for centuries for armor and many weapons, steel production did not thrive in America until about 1850, and
was thus a latecomer as an antique toy making material. Steel was first used only for toy parts, usually structural elements. All-steel
toys began to be widely produced about 1900, primarily for rideable toys such as bicycles and miniature cars. These were followed by
the heavy-gauge steel trucks and and cars made by
Buddy L, Firestone, Dayton Toys, Keystone Toys, Sturditoy the popular Buddy L
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and eventually the Tonka Toy Company
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