This blog discusses old toys from the early 1920's to the end of the 1950's. All kinds of topics are discussed.
The time span was the greatest period for "hands-on" toys, where a young child could actually go outside and play for hours at a time.
You can see the elegance but simple design of these toys. It was a time when huge machines, and people made and finished toys by hand.
The era has long passed, but many of the toys are still around, and that is what I would like to share.
I'm always returning to websites, people, and companies because I know that's where
I will find consistent good results to write the next post. I saw the nice ice truck below, and wrote to the seller. I thought I had contacted him before, but that wasn't the case. Nevertheless, I wrote to him for his permission, which I got. Michael's photography attracted my attention immediately, because it was excellent. Also, he had lots of photos for his listed items, even though the second toy below is offered at a good low price. In other words, Michael likes to present his toys from all angles for the potential buyer to see.
The toy below was the first one that I saw, and the other one I found later. I like them both because they illustrate what trucks from the 1930's looked like.
Arcade Dodge Ice Truck
Painted cast iron with rubber tires
Length: 7" 178 mm
Accompanying the listing for the truck below was a photos of an actual Terraplane truck
from that era. I decided to add it to this post. The toy is not quite 100% looking like the real truck, but it's a good resemblance.
Arcade Terraplane Panel Truck
painted cast iron with rubber tires
Length: 4" 102 mm
I'm writing this post on a Monday. I hope for Tuesday, the weather won't be so bad!
Up here in Montreal,Quebec (Canada), we had a bad ice storm 2 weeks ago which created
a huge "skating ring" all over the city. The ice is still around, and the forecast for Tuesday is warmer weather with snow and rain. It's that rain that I am worried about. People up here sometimes forget how to drive on ice, so I'm always acutely aware of the "other guy" and the distance he is from me - you never know what might happen!
I hope that you enjoyed these 2 small trucks as much as I did writing the post.
Fernand Martin was a French toy manufacturer who started up around the 1880's. His toys
were mechanical wind-ups, and were mostly all about people. The body and frame were manufactured from tin and metal,while the exterior of the figure was usually made of material.
When any of Fernand Martin's toys were wound up, they would go through different motions depending on what their profession was. A street-sweeper would sweep, an acrobat would articulate in an acrobatic movement, and a fisherman would raise his rod to bring the fish closer to him. The toys were small in size and ranged from 5"-7 1/2" ( 127 mm - 191 mm)
c. 1903, "Le Cake-Walk!!!!," depicts woman in dance competition with knee and hands up,
the winners won a cake as a prize. Length 5.5"(141 mm)
c. 1905, "Le Gymnaste," rare Martin design, depiction of gymnast in a formal uniform at bars, leans back and forth when activated working his way down the bars. Hard to find. length: 14.5" 367 mm.
"Le Gentleman Khaki", one of two figures that
represent men from the Boer War (South Africa),
dressed in cloth, holding gun, with helmet.
Length: 5.25" 13.5 cm
Fernand Martin, cloth dressed painted tin figure sits on tin rock - clockwork mechanism imparts action: he bends down and turns and pulls up fish. 7 1/2" ( 190 mm) high
c. 1891, "Les Boxeurs," Very early Martin, rubber band mechanism, only a few known to exist of this toy, arms and bodies jiggle as if in combat, there are reportedly no examples retaining original arms. Length: 5.25" (133 mm)
c. 1898, "Le Petit Decrotteur," this early Martin represents the early street vendor profession,
when activated arms shift to motion shoe shining. Length: 5.5" (140 mm)
France, tin figure with key wind operation, billed as the Culbuteur,
includes original box, actions feature rotations. Height (7 1/2" 191 mm)
Attributed to Martin, depiction of two children playing a fun game of leap frog around a tree stump. Whimsy theme and design. Height: 5.75" (146 mm)
I was doing a Google search for tin toys when I discovered the Tin Toy Car company. Naturally, I went to the site and found a well-organized and well-photographed website. As I started to browse the site, I found lots of nice tin toys that I assume are rare due to their their prices. Also, the important thing was that the owner specifically added the words "Original Tin Toy" to each toy that was original, compared to knockoffs (reproductions). These "knockoffs" might have been copied and produced later on in places such as China.
The website of the Tin Toy Car company is organized by the type of toy produced. The categories are Cars, Robots, Space Toys, Motorcycles, Pedal Cars, and "Others". The "Other" category contains such tin toys as airplanes, tanks, human figures , and busses. Of the categories, each one is organized as to battery, windup, friction, and parts.
The 1950's and 1960's were the golden age of Japanese Tin Toys. The 1940's and 1950's
were the start-up after WWII. During this time, many new Japanese toy companies were created to manufacturer toys. The world had returned to normal after WWII, and Japanese toy manufacturers were producing loads of toys. The American manufacturers had a hard time, as they simply were having a hard time competing with the Japanese competition. The Japanese could make toys at a much lower price. What surprised me most was the value of these toys. The Masudaya MT toy below must be very rare, as the asking price is $ 6500.00 US dollars. Of course, not all 1950's-1960's Japanese toys are valuable or rare, so it's best to consult with a used toy seller who sells these toys!
The Althof Bergmann & Company was established in 1867 by three miner-brothers.They
imported porcelain and toys, such as horse-drawn vehicles, railways, and boats. The toys were made of iron and tin, and were quite similar to the pull toys of the times.
A great resource for identifying certain types of old toys happens to be the Antique Toy Collectors of America or ATCA. On their fine website, they have a section, whereby one can visit their collection of old toy catalogues, and one of them happens to be a reproduction Althoff Bergmann catalogue from 1874. What I did was use the scanned pages from ATCA two cross-reference (*match up) the toys from Bertoia Auctions to the catalogue.
Courtesy of The Antique Toy Collectors of America
Courtesy of The Antique Toy Collectors of America
Courtesy of The Antique Toy Collectors of America
Here's a fine "large dog on wheels" pull tin toy on cast iron wheels. It's an Althoff Bergmann,
but it's probably made a bit later, and the catalogue doesnt' have the dog
without the small basket.
Here's another match-up of the upper image of the steam fire engine with horses.
Here again, we have a modified toy called the "Fulton. Bertoia Auctions identified this toy
as an Althoff Bergmann. Nevertheless, you would have been able to
identify this fine toy through the ATCA catalogue.
The bend in the that you see above helps you to know
that the irregular shape of the rod holding the 2 wheels has an attachment
that would allow the upper triangular part of the steamship to move up and down.
Of course, it helps when you have excellent photos such as these from Bertoia Auctions to
I've been returning to people and auction companies whom I've write about before. For today, it's the belgianmonk, whose fine store on ebay. When I ventured over to ebay and Toys of Times Past, I wasn't disappointed. There were lots of fine toys for sale, and when I looked at toys that had been sold, I wasn't disappointed. However, most of the toys sold recently were of modern vintage. For today, I selected two old toys that I have never seen before. The belgianmonk, always has very interesting toys that everyone likes, since there are so many people bidding on his fine array of toys.
Rare Old Marx Prototype Boat Tail Racer Tin Litho Wind Up Toy Car 1930's Louis Marx prototype racer. L x W: 11.5" x 4.25" 292 mm x 118 mm
Antique Pre-war WWII CY Japan Tin Wind Up Toy Race Car Racer with Celluloid Driver Rarer find produced by CY of Japan. Tin construction with coloured lithography, nickel grill, and wind-up mechanical motor. Car can move forward or in circles Length: 5 1/4" 133 mm
So another week goes by. It seems that the older I get, the faster time moves on.
Fortunately, this winter so far has been hard on everyone. Lots of snow,
followed by rain, with temperatures ranging from -25 C to +7C (-13 C to 44.6 F).
There's only 60 days left to the spring solstice ( March 20), where the days start to get longer.
However, up here in Quebec, our spring really starts at the end of April!
As I write this post, this auction by Morphy Auctions is going on. The auction
is for arcade games (pinball games). I'm writing brief descriptions because these
machines were complex for the times, and the well-written explanations can be found on Liveauctioneers. For this post, I've included the lot numbers for reference should you want more information on Liveauctioneers.
I remember in the 1950's when my parents would take us to Belmont Park in Montreal.
Belmont park was an amusement park with all kinds of rides and an area with lots of arcade machines (Pinball machines). It was fun to play, but it would have taken
lots of 5 cent pieces (a nickel) to become skilled at the game.
What's interesting to note with the descriptions below is that these machines in 1934
and later also cost 5 cents! That was a lot of money then, and "treating" a child to one of these games was a real delight.
Western Equipment and Supply Company Centre Smash
College football themed pinball game
One nickel gives 1 ball. Patron plunges the ball into one of nine
slots for odds between 10-200. There are 7 college teams. Ball must land
in one of the skill holes as shown on the light display
Dimensions" 56" Tall x 28 1/2" Wide x 46 1/2" Depth ( 142.2 cm x 72.5 cm x118.2 cm)
5 cent Jennings Sportsman Pinball Machine Cabinet
Points are obtained when a ball falls into one of the numerous holes on the board.
Dimensions: 42 1/2" x 22" W x 38 1/2" D 108 cm x 56 cm x 98 cm
Gottlieb's "The Mermaid"
Artwork by Roy Parker, only 600 of these machines were manufactured.
Dimensions: 64" T x 25 1/2" W x 54" D 162.5 cm x 64.7 cm x 137.2 cm
Venture over to Liveauctioneers to see the bids
that were placed for these pinball machines.
You's be surprised how some people bid.
Obviously they're collectors and not players on these machine.
If I was a bidder, I'd bid on one to play with in my house!
* You may have noticed that I'm using less coloured letters than before.
I asked my wife to look at my blog on her cell phone, and she said that the red lettering was difficult to see on her cell.
You often see collections being auctioned off by collectors. The collectors are very serious and are usually financially secure so that they can purchase the best toys possible.
By "the best toys possible", I mean that these toys are rare, in excellent condition,they work, and may have come with their original wooden box.
Such is the case of the mechanical banks presented today.
What is also interesting is the information about these collections that is available
on the Internet. If you type in the name of the person with the word "collection", you will find more information about the auction and the mechanical banks. These collections are sometimes worth more than $ 5,000,000.00, and the auctioneers will send out bulletins to various newspapers to promote the auction. This is to garner more publicity and attention to potential bidders. So if you ever want more information about an auction or valuable toy, try searching on the Net.
CALAMITY MECHANICAL BANK - CHOCOLATE BASE Rare Chocolate Base Color Made by the J. & E. Stevens Company Cromwell, Connecticut – Circa 1905 The "Calamity Bank" portrays collegiate football as it was played at the beginning of the 20th Century. In this particular example, we find two defense tacklers from Yale (blue details) taking down a running fullback from Harvard (crimson details). Wearing only nominal protective gear, many players sustained serious injuries. President Teddy Roosevelt viewed this situation as very dangerous. He planned to incorporate the abolition of collegiate football as part of his platform for re-election in 1904. It's a good thing that his political advisors talked him out of it. Material: Cast Iron
Provenance: Stephen Steckbeck Collection
Kilgore The Turtle Mechanical Bank Made by Kilgore Mfg. Co. Westerville, Ohio – Circa 1930 Kilgore affectionately named this little bank "Pokey the Turtle". However for Steve Steckbeck, it was the Holy Grail of all mechanical banks. There was a flaw in the design of "Pokey" and consequently, it has been conjectured that production of this bank was suspended permanently. This theory would explain the extreme scarcity of the Turtle Bank. Only nine specimens are known to exist. Material: Cast Iron
Provenance: Gertrude Hegarty Collection, Stan Sax Collection, Dick Stevens Collection
(The above 3 collections refer to 3 different people who
successively owned this mechanical bank at one time)
INITIATING BANK – FIRST DEGREE - MECHANICAL BANK
Manufactured by Mechanical Novelty Works New Britain, Connecticut – Circa 1880 Though the imagery used in the "Initiating Bank" has never been deciphered, it is, none-the-less a very visually appealing and active mechanical bank. Three unlikely companions: a goat, a frog and a black male youth, are seen as participants in some sort of ritualistic initiation. A coin placed in the boy's tray is deposited into the frog's mouth after the lever activation causes the goat to ram the boy in the behind with his horns. This rare bank is almost never found in such beautiful condition. Material: Cast Iron
Provenance: Stanley Kesselman Collection
CHIEF BIG MOON BANK – RED AND YELLOW BASE Made by the J. & E. Stevens Company Cromwell, Connecticut – Circa 1899 Charles Bailey's inspiration for "Chief Big Moon" may have come from the frog pond adjacent to the Stevens foundry building. Once again, we find his meticulous, almost obsessive, attention to detail. Note, in particular, the complexity of the hieroglyphics that appear on the teepee and the bas relief images that appear so perfectly, albeit shallowly, around the base. The phenomenal color and action of this bank, along with its unparalleled condition, makes this bank worthy of any serious collector's collection as an upgrade. Material: Cast Iron
Provenance: Bill Bertoia Collection, Donal Markey Collection, Stanley Kesselman Collection.
ATLAS MECHANICAL BANK
Unknown Manufacturer, Probably produced in the 1890's. A clever capitalist adage appears in raised letters on the top of the Atlas Bank: "Money Moves the World". These words are closely tied to the action of the bank. To deposit a coin, the lever must be pushed leftward, exposing the coin aperture. When released, the globe spins several times on Atlas' shoulders. Thus, in the case of the Atlas Bank, money literally moves the world. Coincidentally, the silver & gold painted finish of the base evokes the opulent wealth and taste of the Gilded Age, the era in which robber barons such as Andrew Carnegie, J. Gould, and John D. Rockefeller ruled as capitalist icons. Material: Cast Iron, White Metal Figure and Paper-covered wooden globe
Provenance: Leon Cameto Collection, Larry Feld Collection
Surprisingly, I have never seen 2 of the 5 banks above.
1. Kilgore the Turtle Mechanical Bank
2.Atlas Mechanical Bank
For myself, they appeared less-complex than other more complicated banks.
I probably passed on them in past posts because of this.
Who knew that these 2 banks would hit high prices as the other 3 banks.
I'll have to be more conscious of toys that may not look that interesting because you never know!