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Childhood memorabilia including toys, music boxes, dolls and teddy bears

Wooden Toys

The most collectable wooden toys are those made in Germany, particularly in the Erzgebirge region, from about 1830 until the Second World War. European wooden toys differ from most American ones in that European toys are fully carved or turned and then painted directly on the wood. American wooden toys usually have lithographed paper applied […]  Continue Reading »

Cast-iron Toys

Toys, and particularly “banks” (novelty money boxes), made of cast iron are almost exclusively American. Banks became popular shortly after the Civil War to hoard coins saved in response to low value of paper money printed during the War.  In 1870, John Hall patented one of first mechanical (rather than “still”) banks. His Excelsior Bank […]  Continue Reading »

Toy Soldiers

About 1760, Johann Hilpert, a master pewterer in Nuremburg, saw commercial possibilities in the small, flat toy figures that he was making for his children from the excess pewter left over when manufacturing kitchenware.  Initially, he made animals and theatrical and farming figures but real success came when he made a series of soldiers to […]  Continue Reading »

Die-cast Toys

In the early 1930s, the Chicago printing company, Dowst, developed a technology for casting lead alloys for typesetting. As a sideline, Dowst produced some small, inexpensive die castings of toy cars which were sold as Tootsie Toys.  In 1933, the British company Meccano, which was had been making making Meccano sets since 1901 and Hornby […]  Continue Reading »

Tin Toys

Tin toys (actually tin-plated steel) were first made early in the 18th century but it was not until factory production became possible in the 1880s that they became common. Until about 1890, all tin toys were handpainted. After that date, some made using preprinted parts. After the First World War, preprinted parts were used for […]  Continue Reading »

Japanese Tin Toys

Immediately after the Second World War, Japanese toy makers began to manufacture battery powered tin plate toys. American and European toy makers had used batteries to operate lights, buzzers and horns but it was the Japanese who replaced clockwork and friction mechanism with electric motors to power toy vehicles and automata. These toys were made […]  Continue Reading »

Model Trains

Toy trains have been made since the 1830s; the earliest examples being made from lead and wood. From the 1870s, German manufacturers were producing expensive tin toy trains. By the 1890s, the German company Marklin was producing complete railway systems. Marklin is credited with standardizing most of the gauges in 1891. In Britain, toy trains […]  Continue Reading »

Construction Sets

In Liverpool, England, in 1901, Frank Hornby patented a toy called Mechanics Made Easy. The toy consisted of a set of fifteen different tinplate pieces perforated with holes so that they could be fastened together with nuts and bolts to make models. Over the next few years, new pieces and different sets were introduced. In […]  Continue Reading »

Board Games

Printed board games originated in the 18th century. Originally they were simply printed on paper. Later, this was linen-backed and, later still, reinforced with card. The earliest games were map-based but, by the late 19th century, most board games were based on social or geographical themes and had a strong moral theme. One of these […]  Continue Reading »

Teddy Bears

The first stuffed toy to be called a “teddy bear” was introduced in 1903 by Morris Michtom who created a stuffed bear to commemorate an incident in which President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt had refused to shoot a young bear during a hunting trip. Michtom’s teddy bears were enormously popular and formed the basis for the […]  Continue Reading »

Wooden Dolls

Simple, skittle shaped wooden dolls, with the head and torso carved from a single piece of wood, were made in England in the 17th century. Any that have survived in good condition are rare and valuable. Large numbers of wooden dolls were made in Austria and Germany from the 17th to the 20th century. The […]  Continue Reading »

Cloth (Rag) Dolls

Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, printed cloth sheets for home sewing into dolls were popular. Of factory-made rag dolls, the most famous are washable dolls with painted faces made in Germany from 1910 by Kathe Kruse. Margarete Steiff, of teddy bear fame, also produced a range of felt dolls, including Golliwogs, which have […]  Continue Reading »

Papier Mache Dolls

Dolls with moulded papier mache heads were popular from about 1810 to 1870. The most important area of production was Germany although papier mache dolls were also made in America, especially in Philadelphia. The earliest German papier mache dolls are known as “slit heads” because of a gap in the crown into which  the hair […]  Continue Reading »

China Dolls

China dolls have heads and limbs of glazed porcelain; the bodies may be wood, cloth or kid. They were mainly made in Germany from about 1800 to 1850 when bisque largely replaced porcelain.   China dolls available now(Clicking on an item of interest will open a new window)  Continue Reading »

Bisque Dolls

Bisque is unglazed porcelain, fired twice with tinting before the second firing. The resultant bisque dolls are much more lifelike than china dolls. The most collectable bisque dolls were made in France, particularly late 19th century French fashion dolls, or “Parisiennes”, which were elaborately dressed in the fashion of the day. The other major area […]  Continue Reading »

Celluloid (Kewpie) Dolls

Celluloid was developed as a lightweight alternative to bisque in 1902. Jointed celluloid dolls first appeared in 1905 and dolls with sleeping eyes were first produced in 1914.. The impish Kewpie doll, based on an American cartoon by Rose O’Neill, appeared in 1912. Within a year several companies were making the dolls under licence. Bisque […]  Continue Reading »

Plastic (Barbie) Dolls

Bild Lilli Plastic dolls first appeared in the late 1940s. The most popular dolls in the second half of the 20th century have been teenage fashion dolls: Bild Lilli from Germany appeared in 1958, Barbie in America in 1959 and Sindy in England in 1962. The German Lilli doll, on which Barbie was based, was […]  Continue Reading »