Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Amazing Toy Dictionaries of Earnest & Ida Long

Monday, October 10, 2016
Clear skies & sunny
13 Celcius / 56 Fahrenheit

The Amazing Toy Dictionaries 
of Earnest & Ida Long

I can't remember when I purchased the 2-volume edition of Dictionary of  Toys Sold in America. The authors are Mr. Earnest & Mrs. Ida Long from Mokelumne Hill, California,USA. However, when the dictionaries arrived from an ebay seller, I was enthralled. THe 2 volumes were economically-priced, and the dictionaries included all kinds of toys from the USA and around the world.  The toys in the Dictionaries included those made between the late 1870's - late 1930's. 
The copyright dates were 1971 (Volume 1) and 1978 (Volume II). I tried to search for the Longs, bunt could not find any trace of them on the Net as to where I might contact them for their permission to use  their photos and their narratives.  As such, I have credited them both with my usual copyright notices that are found at the bottom of each and every page scan that I use. There was supposed to be future volumes of these dictionaries, and it was mentioned that there was to be a Volume III. However, I have not found a Volume III, and perhaps the Longs never got to finish their writing.

I did a brief search today as to how much these books might cost, since I could not remember how much tat I paid for them in the first place. I did a fast search using the words "Earnest Ida Long Dictionary of Toys, and came up with several results. Abe Books, Amazon, and ebay, all had these books for sale. The prices ranged from $ 10.00  - $ 24.00 US dollars, plus shipping, handling, and excise or VAT taxes. 

The 2 volumes of images are copied from old catalogues. At the time of most of these catalogues , the images of the toys were mostly  "illustrations" that were hand-drawn by artists. Most of the images come out quite well, and can be easily recognized and cross-referenced if you were to find the real toy. Some images that were originally dark, due to their original colours or lack of (e,.g. black or dark-coloured toys) have lost their detail, but once again, the outline (shape) of the toy, nevertheless is easily recognizable. 

What's also noteworthy is that the Longs have included the different sizes of a particular if it came in varying sizes. Furthermore, they also happened to rate all of the different sizes as well. The books are printed on lower-cost paper, and have slightly aged and yellowed over time. However, for their price, and their value, they are well-worth the price that you would purchase them from. 

The longs also wrote 2 other books. One was a catalogue of 1200 dolls that were pictured with accessories that were pictured with their original "costuming" (outfits or clothes) and accessories. Another book was titled "Album of Candy Containers". Many candy containers in the timeframe of the dictionary book were made from 1880's-1930's and even later. I never considered them toys, hence I have never written about them. Needless, like all other collectibles,there is a demand for people who like to collect these items. 

Volume I

Volume I consists of 83 pages in total. The 2 volumes took a year in the making, but the second volume was not produced until 7 years later, in 1978.This first dictionary is divided into 10 categories, such as Aircraft,  Automotive, Boats, Horse Drawn and  Mechanical toys, just to name a few of the categories.

Not only are there brief descriptions of the toys, but there is a classification system for rating the toy in terms of desirability. As such,the ratings are assigned letters of A, B, and C, with numbers as well. The elements of design, workmanship,and style are the elements that the Longs (and in general other toy writers) have assigned in terms of what makes certain toys more collectible or rare than other toys.  The lowest (most common and less rare) toy rating would be 1A, 1B, 1C. Higher ratings would go all the way up to A20, B20, C20. The highest grading would be a 20C, with that toy being the most in demand, and probably very rare.  A good point that the Longs make for a rating system not based on price is that the rating system remains the same as time changes. Based on price, the ratings for appeal and rarity have remained the same, while prices might have changed for certain toys, and hence have moved up or down the scale of price.

Volume II

Volume II consists of 71 pages in total, and is divided into 10 categories similar to Volume I. The  numbering system starts with 1-1466 in Volume I and goes to Volume II, with the second volume having numbers from 1477-2719. As I previously mentioned, the Longs were in the process of working on Volume III with subsequent later volumes to appear as time progressed. The final total number of toys would have been 6000. Other categories would have included other toys. 

I did an Internet search  for "Dictionary of Toys Sold in America", and  I was surprised to find that both ebay and Amazon had used copies available for sale. Also, the asking price for each book was quite reasonable. Not everyone might like looking at black and white drawings of old toys, but for some people, that might be good enough for them.

Thanks for visiting,
and as always,
Have a great part of the day or night,
Wherever you may be.

Stacey Bindman

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