A return to childhood?

PUBLISHED: 06:06 26 May 2014

Auctions, collecting toys

Auctions, collecting toys


Almost everyone has a favorite toy that they remember from their childhood. Whether it was a board game, doll, teddy, or a pedal car, this toy somehow made your childhood years a little more special. As we grow up and start employment, get a mortgage, car and greater responsibilities, we inevitably outgrow our toys, but they are never truly forgotten and every once in a while we find ourselves longing for simpler times and yearning for a glimpse of our youth once again.

Most people who collect toys begin their collections with something that they recall from their childhood. While the instinct to play with the toy might not be as strong, its presence brings back sweet memories, so they buy another, keep that too, then another, and so a hobby and growing collection is born.

Other collectors simply have an interest in social history and become fascinated with the toys and games of days gone by and so collect them as almost a social study.

There are many people who feel that old or antique toys are actually excellent investments. This is a self-fulfilling prophesy, as the more that people believe it the more people start buying up what’s available – and the more prices rise. Toys attract buyers from all over the world from all cultures and ages, so the demand almost always outstrips supply.

Condition is, as usual, the most important thing. Originality is paramount to collectors. Metal fatigue in a Dinky toy, a hairline crack on the face of a porcelain doll or the bedraggled condition of a Steiff bear will lower the price considerably. Re-painting the Dinky, poly-filling and touching up the doll and giving the teddy a hair transplant will kill any value the toy once had; so if you have some toys gathering dust that you wish to sell, don’t be tempted to make improvements before you do.

While the late 19th and early 20th century period was the golden age for toys and dolls, the Victorian and Edwardian up-and-coming middle classes were keen for their sons to play with model trains powered by real steam or for their daughters to have the finest porcelain dolls in up-to-date Paris fashions. Toys of this quality are highly sought after and valuable, but even the mass produced toys from this and later periods, made of tin plate, have a charm and quality that outshines anything made today.

We now find that more modern toys such as Action Man, Meccano and Barbie dolls are fetching record prices. Buyers are re-living their youth through their collections and the great thing is that prices may rise, but the supply of future collectables is never-ending. In 10 or 20 years, the toys that are being played with today may start to become collected and valuable, as those who remember them get older, become more affluent and want desperately to buy them back, so every year new items crop up that new generations of toy collectors chase and buy.

Durrants’ next toy and collectables sale is on May 30, with entries closing on May 14. Contact Rebecca Mayhew on 01502 713490 or Rebecca.Mayhew@durrants.com

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