Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Exceptional Penny Toys of Max Berry - Part I

Thursday, October 23, 2014
  Overcast with rain, seasonally cooler

The Exceptional Penny Toys
of Max Berry-Part II

   I've posted about the penny toy,and I thought I'd add a fine grouping from the upcoming Max Berry Collection offered through Bertoia Auctions. There is just one difference between the toys on this post, and the one to follow in a few days,or if time permits - tomorrow. It's their starting prices. ONe post gads higher-pricers while the other one has lower ones. I'll tell you the answer on the third post from this one.

  I titled today's post "The Exceptional Penny Toys" for many reasons. First and foremost, from an emotional point of view is that, here were toys made for everyone who could afford to pay a penny. These toys could be accessible for everyone, and in those days (late 1890's-1930's) a penny went a long way, so every child could ay least have a toy such as these. Secondly, here were all kinds of toys, made by many manufacturers with limitless choices for everyone. And thirdly, here were toys that were mass produced, that were usually very small and assembled by hand. I can't even imagine how many toys that a worker would have to assemble in a day for him or her to earn a day's wages!
Being very small toys, the workers would have to be quite dexterous with their hands and be able to assemble and bend the small tags to join the pieces together. Moreover, the pieces were s slightly sharp-edged, and somewhat hard ,so at the end of a day's work, the workers must have had very tired hands.

   The great thing bout these toys is that there are so many that still survive to this day!

       Toys from the Upcoming Auction 
        of the Max Berry Collection

The first thing that you notice with theses penny toys is that they are very small relative to other toys.
But the sheer numbers and variety of this genre of toy is mind-boggling. I also wonder of the more complicated  toys cost more than a penny.

As you can see, the contrast of toys is quite broad, from the lowly donkey and cart, 
to the majestic horse-drawn hansom cab. 

Spread your thumb and forefinger out as much as you can. My height is 5' 9"  ( 1.75 M) and the distance of my thumb to forefinger is 6"  152mm) - an inch (25.5 mm) longer the truck!

I was just reading an article in the New York Times yesterday about watchmaking - a very specialized career. The fine swiss watchmaker, Audemars Piquet, give a one-day course in watchmaking for owners of watches. As you know, watches have very small components to them. One person dropped a tiny screw, and could;t find it on the floor. He also said that he would never be a watch-maker because it was too painstaking and too stressful.

So imagine people working on an assembly line and having to assemble theses small toys by the thousands in a day!  Also, many factories at the time did not have the best lighting for working, especially in the 1890's-1900's when electricity was not yet invented and commonplace.

The blue and yellow Fischer gunboat below is a titan among the average toy 
with an astounding length of  9" (228 mm)

Imagine that this toy 16 easily showing bending tip projections tips to join the yellow deck to the ship's blue bow.

Then there are the smoke stacks the ship's steering room,  the gun, and the 2 sets of wheels.

That got to be stressful to do this day in and day out!

Of course, the airplane toys below were made much later in the timespan of the penny toys.
Perhaps, by then these were 2 pennies or even more!

Here's a very nice piece - the sewing machine.In those days, most people had sewing machines in their home, and would make their own clothes or repair them. Naturally, a toy sewing machine would have been great for a child to have  that would be a small version of the one her mother had.

And finally, a whimsical toy that would make any child laugh - the mousetrap.
As you can see from the photographs, the toy still works and is catching the mouse after 100 years!
Try finding something today that will last into the next century!

Thanks for dropping by,
and as always,
have a great part of the day or night,
wherever you may be,


Bob Walden said...

Wow! Penny toys! Something I could afford!! Uh, they seem to have gone up in price! Guess I'll stick to old tractors and my Rin Tin Tin Dexterity puzzles. Oh, and my new interest, Kellogg Pep Pins. Only 79 more to go!!

toysearcher said...

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the comment. I'll have to check out what "Kellogg Pep Pin"s are.
What these penny toys remind me of are Pez dispensers. Not only would kinds anatto have several of the innumerable different dispensers, but they also wanted to have the candy that was dispensed from them!