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 bus and eventually the Tonka Toy Company
Sturditoy fire truck, Sturditoy dump truck, Sturditoy express truck, Sturditoy dairy truck, Sturditoy gondola, Sturditoy oil truck, Sturdittoy side
dump truck, Sturditoy armored truck, Sturditoy U. S. army truck, Sturditoy huckster, Sturditoy pumper. Sturditoy trucks wanted any condition.
Antique Sturditoy Trucks ~ Values ~ Color Photos ~ Free Appraisals
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