Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bonhams - Toy Metal Soldiers

Wednesday, January 31, 2013

Toy Metal Soldiers


    Growing up in Canada, we'd see a lot of British movies. After WWII, Canada received a huge influx of people from Europe and the British Isles who wanted to make a new life in Canada. Eventually they settled here, and when TV became more popular, naturally many people purchased black and white TV's and watched TV on the 3 channels that were available. 2 were from the US across the border, and you could get them with a regular 10' (3.5) meter antenna with a rotor. The other station was CBC - our national television network.

    By the mid-1950's CBC would show British movies to all, but I guess for the new Canadian immigrants and citizens. I'd watch the old Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce,  The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Fuur Feathers, and many other British movies whose name escapes me. What I liked about  the British movies was the scenery and costumes. I was too young to have been around for WWII, so I knew nothing about the War.  However,British movies presented lots of history (not always historically correct), but who cared when you were 
8-12.  Even today, I like  British movies that present majestic countrysides, period props and costumes,  of course the "British accent",  great acting and a great story.

   I woke  up today to another great day in the blog-writing world. Mr. James Opie from the Collectors' Department  of Bonhams had replied to my request,and I had the permission to use their photos on their site and of course write about them. James is a Consultant, Toy Soldiers and Figures, of the Collectors' DepartmentHowever, the great news did not stop there.  He suggested that I go to his blog, which I did. Whoa! Now I actually had a resource to learn about toy soldiers. Naturally, there were photos there, and information, and so I needed more permissions which I most-gratefully obtained.

   What I like about lead soldiers is the detail.  Montreal, Quebec, having a chronic "issue" with the rest of Canada does not have military parades.  The provincial Separatists keep complaining about Canada,and how better off they would be  as a "Nation", separated from Canada. As a result, that's all Montreal would need are Canadian troops parading  in downtown Montreal. Sadly, many Quebecers gave their lives both in WWI and WWII, as Quebecers and Canadians for their province and Country!

   For today, I decided to simply present the select images that I picked from the Bonhams excellent website. THe images are large-sized so there's lots of detail. I wrote to James that I saw elsewhere a lead soldier who was loading his gun with a paper wrapped cartridge. That dates  the soldiers at least to the mid 1800's - late 1880's, but I'm sure my dates are off. I'm sure James as a toy soldier consultant has to have an encyclopaedic memory to be able not only to identify the manufacturer, but then to date where the toy soldier was made, after which division or group he belonged to, and in what foreign  area of the world he had been deployed.  I did see again the recent remake of The Four Feathers, and so if I saw a toy solider on a Camel, I could tell you that it was modelled after 1 of the African divisions in the 1850's or earlier. I couldn't tell you if it was in the Sudan, or Khartoum, or some other former British colony thought.

I was going to write short history about Bonhams ,but I'll save that for another post. I think I've "talked enough" for today.  I will say however, that Bonhams has been around since 1793 or 220 years. What would be  interesting is to visit their archives to see what they sold way back when and who purchased what!

(Please click on the above address to be redirected to Bonhams excellent website)

James Website address is below. So if you like information as well as photos,you can certainly learn a lot about this fascinating area of old and antique toys.

What's interesting about the photo above is that the arms of the soldiers are attached separately, rather than made in 1 mould or casting. I would think that they articulate (move). The horses also have pins in them, so I'm also wondering about their mobility.

I wanted to present only British soldiers, and so I worked to enhance this image in Photoshop.
I then saw the American flag and let this images stay.

     I haven't even scratched the surface of this fascinating area, but there is so much to see here.Imagine that many of the toys were hand painted!  Also, what's interesting is that with  Great Britain's long history, there were so many different uniforms for different parts of the world, both for pageantry, as well as utility throughout the hundreds of years of the British Empire. WHat's also interesting is that I've seen (in books and movies) entire armies with hundreds of different soldiers in different positions, and different props,  and uniforms.  That alone could keep one occupied for years and years!

So that's my post on Bonhams for today. I will have to learn about this area of metal soldiers because they're part of history. And for sure, it's good to both know about history, and to know something about the topic!

Thanks for dropping by,

and have a great part of the morning, afternoon, or evening, wherever you my be

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Matching Real Items with Toys

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Matching Real Items with Toys

     I always like to try and see what a "real" machine, truck, or car looked like compared with the toy version. However, the problem with getting permission for "real" items, is that I have to search out the real item, then match the toy.

    I was just able to get permission from Skinner Auctioneers and Appraisers to present their interesting items, when I happened to notice on their website that they have an antique car division. Naturally, that perked my interested, and I was able to find to interesting "match-ups" for today. They're not quite 100%, but they're "close". Of course, as they say in the game of horseshoes - "close doesn't count". However, I figured I could match-up as close as possible.

   Skinner Auctioneers and Appraisers has some nice cars, but I was able to find a super 1934 Packard, and a nice collection of excellent portraits of  Harley-Davidson motorcycles and their delivery riders. So that's my post for today - the real item with closely-related toys of the era.

(Please press on the above address to be redirected to the fine Skinner website)

(Please press on the above address to be redirected to the fine Bertoia website)

(Please press on the above address to be redirected to the fine Morphy website)

Having taught professional photography, and being a photographer, I can tell you that the photos above were done in an excellent manner. The focus, pose, composition, camera angle, and adding extra light (flash fill or reflected light) into the shadows made for excellent records of delivery people of the time. I suspect that motorcyles played a more important part in deliveries at at time. I don't even know if motorcycles are even used anymore for deliveries.

The Hubley toy company made all kinds of cast iron toys and other items at the time.  Their cast iron toys are some of the finest of the time, along with other companies like Dent, A.C.Williams, and Kenton. Interestingly, many of the toy companies of that time got their start in of all things - hardware supplies.

Absolutely beautiful car photography! Again, all of the key element to produce a fine record of this auto are all there. Lighting, composition, background,  and attention to detail are all integrated into the final images. "Attention to detail" simply means watching out for elements that might detract form the main item in the photo. Examples might be distraction in the background, smudges on the windows or windshield, or chrome, dirt on the carpet, and so forth.

That's it for today, so thanks for dropping by.
have a great morning, afternoon, evening wherever
you may be.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Architectural Toys

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Architectural Toys


    I was scouring the Net as usual, when I came across a site containing a huge "warehouse" of  content that I had always been looking for. I call this group construction or building toys, but the owner of the site who is quite educated, and likes to study architecture, prefers to call the grouping architectural toys.

Jackie Britton is quite an interesting young woman. She studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Bath,  although she never worked as an engineer.  She joined the Science Museum in London, and worked her way up , eventually  becoming Project  developer and Executive Assistant to the  Head of the Museum.  At the same time, she managed to find time to get an MSc in the History of Technology in the History of Technology. Jackie then was fortunate enough to get a great job at the Victoria and Albert Museum (across the street from the Science Museum), where she is the head of technical services, managing the teams who move, install, pack, transport, store, clean, and make mounts for the exhibits.

I'm tired just writing all of this, and yet there's even more to tell on her site. I feel like I should be doing lots more than just writing a toy blog!

I rearranged the above montage from Jackie's intro page on her blog.
I hope that she won't mind.  I especially like her logo of the letter "A" for

The first address is Jackies's blog,while the second one is her website.
You can click on either address to see lots of interesting architectural sets, as well as interesting information.

And if that is not enough, Jackie has added photos to Flickr:  

    I'm going to be writing a few posts about Jackie Britton and her marvellous architectural toy collection, so for today, I'm just presenting you with some of the items in her collection. 

I actually had a set of Minibrix when I was about 8 years old. The "trick" to  easily attach the rubber pieces to each other was to wet the small rounded ends, and then push or press them into the small holes. 

I'll be writing more on Jackie later, but for now this is the "intro". Drop by her fine sites,  as well as her Flickr site. I'm going to add my photo site in the future .I've taken lots of nice photos when I was buying and selling on E-Bay, and I'd like to share them with you.

That's it for today.I have to get up and walk Buddie, our dog.
As well, my neck is "killing me" from bending down over the keyboard and monitor.

As always, thanks for dropping by,
and have a great day or evening or morning, 
wherever you may be.



Monday, January 28, 2013


Thursday, November 22, 2012



 I've stopped by Randystoyshop on the Net, but never really checked it out. I think I was looking for toy repair people, and his site came up. I'm tempted to keep correcting Randy's store name, but that's the way it's spelled, so I'll just write about Randy and his store. 

    Yesterday, out of the clear blue, I decided to have a look on E-Bay. I've written that it's hard to find those rare toys, so I decided to go visit E-Bay. Was I wrong! I did a search and found several stores. One store didn't want their toys copied and written about, and Randy wrote back and said that was fine. 

    Randy is a diesel mechanic by profession, but he always liked to collect toys. Not just any toys, but those  toys that other collectors looked down on - those "misfit toys" as he calls them. Being a diesel mechanic, I'm sure he has the skills, and still does to repair things. As I even mentioned, Randy repairs toys.  He started collecting toys in the late 1970's and what began as a hobby of collecting turned into buying and selling. By 1987, he had to expand from working in his house to 
adapting an old "chicken coop" into a workshop.  In 1998, the business once again outgrew its space, and Randy decided to move to downtown Noblesville, Indiana. Randy mentioned that that's where many other antique  stores are.

(please click on the above address to be redirected to Randy's store)

40° 2' 44" N / 86° 0' 31" W

The Toys

  I was going to show more toys, but I took some time to best show the ones below. I asked Randy if I could improve the images in Photoshop, and remove some rulers that he had for the Japanese Rickshaw and driver, and he said "sure". Once I started, I just had to bring out the fine detail and colours from the toys. And so, I only have 2 fine toys to show you for today.  

   With the Popeye toy below,  Randy e-mailed me to remind me that Popeye is not the 
"correct Popeye" for that tank toy.  The one he added is a "tumble or figure" that was installed. He's still looking for the correct one!  

   I was so interested with the toy, I didn't read what he had written in the description on E-Bay. That was almost like the time I went fishing off Vancouver, B.C. (Canada). My brother, his  wife, and my 2 nieces, and my wife charter a boat for an hour at $ 250.00. I catch the only salmon of the day - a large one, and the captain says "you can't keep it, it's too small!" I went back to look at the toy, but not knowing much about Linemar toys, I couldn't tell that that Popeye was the wrong one.

     The toy below is a superb 1920's  Lehmann (Germany) Masuyama wind-up tin toy. FOr being at least 92 years old, the toys and its original box sure are in great shape.

   You can see  the wind-up mechanism in the above photo. In the 1880's and later, Germany was "the" leader for well-crafted ind-up toys. I mentioned in another post that  Paya, a Spanish company that started  in 1902, by the 1930's rivalled Germany in  quality, craftsmanship, and design. Randy's last name, by the way is Iver, and he also sells on E-Bay. His name on E-Bay is Randystoyshop. He's a top rated seller, and has an excellent reputation on E-Bay. So you can either drop by E-Bay, or his store that  I've written above for you to be redirected.

Thanks for dropping by,

and, as always, have a great part of the day or night, 
you may be.