Antique Toy Collections Bring Back Happy Memories

Antique toys are a little difficult to find and collect. They were for the playroom and the ungentle embrace of children. Many toys live a full life but in the end are fit for not much more than the trash can. The older an antique toy is, the more likely it is to be in poor condition, especially delicate things made of paper mache, balsa wood, or other light materials. Even metal toys do not keep their shiny paint or escape the ravages of rust.

However, many people do want to amass a large antique toy collection, despite, or because of, the rarity of good examples.

Girls’ Toys

No matter how poor or rich, little girls always have dolls. A resourceful mother can even turn a corncob into a friend for her daughter. Perhaps because a doll is such a universal toy is why they make such a universally popular antique toy.

Any American girl that has been a child since the 1950s knows Barbie dolls. Whether it is the thick solid eyelash of the 1950s, the permanent blue eye shadow of the 1980s or the more reasonable body shape of the 21st century, Barbie will always evoke a woman’s memory of being young. Even if you are too old to have had Barbies yourself, if you have a daughter, you remember hers.

Further back in the antique toy realm are porcelain or clay dolls. Actually, only the heads, and sometimes the hands were made of hard material. Mothers or manufacturers sewed soft bodies to this “hardware”; when one body was worn out, it was easy to make another. Even the heads alone are quite collectible, even with no hair and no body. After all, the new owner can make a body if she would like.

Boys’ Toys

Just as dolls find their way into womens’ collections, so to do antique toy soldiers find their way onto mens’ shelves.

Toy soldiers have always been an item in the boy’s toy box. Since at least the Napoleonic wars, boys have played with elaborate toy armies. Fine armies were made on a tiny scale in lead and porcelain long before plastic. The best examples were hand painted and came with the whole array of horses, cannons, officers, soldiers, and flags. Many men like to collect toy armies, perhaps in remembrance of their childhood comrades lost in backyard battlefields.


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