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've been re-reading my old posts to find new material to write about.
One of these people that I decided to revisit is Mr. Bob Woodburn Bob lives in
Bozeman, Montana USA, and is a very successful seller on ebay. I had written to him 7 years ago to ask about Mr. Tom Sehloff, who makes these remarkable cast iron toys in the style of
the 1920's-1930's cast iron models.
However, today, he's selling another artisan and craftsperson
by the name of the late Mr. Marvin Silverstein. Marvin passed away in 2010, but his legacy lives on. Marvin took old pressed steel cars, and restored them to their original condition. In some cases he "modified them" to look even better than the original.
On Bob's site are 3 fantastic "models" that Marvin "crafted". Bob considers these as collector's items rather than toys. One was crafted in 1995, and another crafted in 2004. The third one is not identified by date. The original models (before being modified) were from the 1930's.
This fine toy started out as a pressed steel Wyandotte Cord convertible that was made in the mid to later 1930's. It was modified by Marvin Silverstein, and you can read the entire process on Bob Woodburn's ebay store.
Bob considers these pressed steel cars to be "collectors items" rather than toys. it's best that I add some direct wording from what Bob wrote on his ebay descriptions of the 3 cars.
In the following description, I referred to this item as being a toy primarily because it started out as a toy. However, after giving this some thought over night, I consider this item to be more of a work of art than I do a toy. An artist can compose or play music, work on canvas, sculpt clay to make bronze castings, style automobiles or other commercial products, carve wood or do lots of other creative things. One or more master metal shapers rebuilt a child's toy to make the masterpiece you see here.
Please enjoy it like I have for several years.
Thanks a lot,
in Bozeman, Montana, USA
Size: L x W x H
13 1/4" x 4 3/4" x 4 1/4"
334 mm x 120 mm x 113 mm
Crafted from an original pressed steel Wyandotte Cord convertible coupe
that was also made in the mid to latter 1930's.
L x W x H
14 1/2" x 4 3/4" x 4 1/4"
368 mm x 120 mm x 113 mm
Like the other 2 previous toys, this model started out as a Wyandotte pressed steel toy
manufactured from the mid to later 1930's. This particular model has the most work and has been changed the most from the original toy.
L x W x H
14 1/2" x 4 3/4" x 4 1/4"
368 mm x 120 mm x 113 mm
You can see the fine craftsmanship that went into the modification of all 3 of these
vintage toys. These are more collector's items than toys, and certainly have been well build and
modified from the original Wyandotte toys.
I've abridged (shortened) the lengthy narrative that Bob wrote about all 3 of these toys presented today. So please go to Bob's ebay site to see the entire descriptions that Bob has taken the time to write about.
blue table version, an extraordinary design with remarkable action, coin deposited involves placing it under right hat, turning rear crank and watching, the coin reappears under left hat, intriguing and rare. Minor enhancement to face, otherwise paint appears to be original throughout with a clear-coat varnish applied to brighten and preserve paint, (Excellent Condition)
Freedman's Mechanical Bank
Manufacturer: Jerome B. Secor (Bridgeport, Connecticut,USA)
Manufactured by Jerome B. Secor, Bridgeport, CT, circa 1880, less than ten known examples still exist in what has come to be considered one of the best known historically important banks ever made. The front panel reads, "Freedman's Bank," which gains its inspiration from the Freedman's Bank for newly freed slaves as established by U.S. Congress. When coin is deposited and clockwork is activated, the seated black man is able to thumb his nose, as if to give a jeering look to all depositors, quite a remarkable concept that must be seen to be appreciated!
Both of these toy mechanical banks are extremely rare, hence the high prices
that were purchased at auction. The Mikado Mechanical Bank was purchased for a final price of $ 46,600.00 USD, while the Freeman's Mechanical Bank went for $ 36,000.00 USD. It's great to see that during these trying times of the pandemic, people still are trying to continue with caution, but with their normal routines.
It's not often that I see a toy with the price set at 5 digits , being offered on ebay! So naturally I was curious to see what the toy was all about. It turns out that it's a Wilkins street sweeper made in the 1890's, It's a cast iron toy, that's in very good condition for being 100 or more year old.
It's length is 12 1/2" (317 mm).
I contacted the owner and asked for permission to use the photos, and to write about the fine toy. As it turned out, the owner of the toy is Mr. Aaron Phelps, whose ID on ebay is apbubba1.
Aaron's photos are excellent, so that I had very little work to improve them, but for resizing them to a smaller size.
In Aaron's own words:
"I've done some searching and it looks to me this was the last one to sell since 2005.
From a collection out of Minnesota. I don’t believe there is too many that are still around.
Thanks Aaron Phelps."
It's amazing that the bristles for the street sweeper are still
on the toy, and that the letters (D.P.W.) standing for Department of Public Works
are also still on the toy.
From this photo below, you can see a brown string
that is attached between the rear left axle of the toy, and the
bristle gear on the shaft of the wheel.
The 2 photos below help you to better understand
how the sweeper rotates along the surface that it is cleaning.
If anyone has some information about the Wilkins company,
please send me the reference so that I can add it to this post.
So that's it for today, having written this second post.
I hope that this fine toy will sell, and that someone will enjoy
I've been returning to the websites of many of my contributors to see how they are doing. Several years ago, I discovered this fine seller by having done a search. What I like about this website is the excellent photography that they have of their merchandise, and the research that they use to carefully describe each the items that are for sale. Please click here to visit this fine American Merchant
The scanned pages for the 2 toys come from a nice
small booklet for Arcade Toys circa the 1920's. The booklet of 76 pages was
reproduced by the publisher Noble House in 1988.
L x W x H:
8 1/2" x 3 3/8" x 3 3/4"
215 mm x 86 mm x 95 mm
I was able to find the patent of the toy on the Internet.
I seldom cover dolls, but when I was browsing the Net the other day, I saw the name Theriault's several times with regard to a search that I was doing. When I visited the website, was I surprised! Theriault's is one of the most famous sites for dolls, and when you venture over to their website you will see why. If I can put this into words, they are the keepers of the tradition of collecting dolls for now and the next generation of children and adults who get pleasure form collecting, and perhaps playing with them as well.
In their own words
"Founded in 1970 by Florence and George Theriault, the firm has specialized exclusively in the appraisal and auction of antique dolls and childhood playthings throughout its 50-year history. The firm's offices and cataloging center are headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, although its live auctions are conducted in major cities throughout the United States. Also, because of Theriault's stellar reputation, collectors and museums worldwide participate in bidding on dolls through a well-developed system of phone, absentee, and Internet bidding. In addition, collectors and estate specialists worldwide - from Asia to Europe to every small town in America - have commissioned their dolls to Theriault's for auction."
Theriault's was an early leader in the movement toward specialization within the auction industry. "Traditionally, collectors have been confounded by the contradiction of desiring an object, yet fearing its flaws," notes founder Florence Theriault. We wanted to create an auction firm with a profound knowledge of the subject of the dolls, as well as the mere ability to present an auction. The principle has been well-served, not only offering assurance to the collector of dolls, but also ensuring sellers that their dolls will be marketed intelligently.
Theriault's appraisers have freely contributed their time and knowledge at collector gatherings ranging from small town-club meetings to international conferences. Informative articles concerning doll collecting and the history of dolls have been contributed to various journals, and an extensive research library is maintained by Theriault's and its sister company, Gold House Publishing, that has published more that 60 books on specialized subjects of doll collecting, with a network of knowledge and respected authors.
Theriault's has sponsored a number of public appraisal clinics to the benefit of museums and public libraries as well as other non-profit organizations and, additionally, hosted many one or two day educational seminars conducted for collectors in major citied around the United States that are free and open to all. Additionally, Theriault's has sponsored a scholarship program in conjunction with the UFDC to support ongoing research in the world of dolls.
6" (15 cm.) Each has bisque shoulderhead, muslin body, bisque lower limbs, including lady with mohair wig arranged with ringlet curls, glass eyes, closed mouth, wearing fine antique gown with lace trim and matching high top bonnet, model 1160 by Simon and Halbig; and gentleman with sculpted black hair and moustache, wearing wonderful original costume and top-hat. Condition: generally excellent. Comments: Germany, circa 1890. Value Points: wonderful original costumes, the woman with original dainty wig.
You can read from the description, that each and every item for sale is most-carefully researched. It's truly amazing how antique dolls have been so sell kept over a period of 130 years. Moreover, these dolls represent how well-off people and their children would have dressed in the 1890's! Even the assembly of the dolls, and their costumes are truly classic!
I decided to not include the written descriptions, so that I could present the pictures by themselves for viewing. The photos are excellent in terms of the nice material that the dolls are on. However, it's the lighting that caught my eye. They are using at least 3 lights to photograph the dolls. There is a light from the back, and 2 lights from the front. Also the file sizes are very good enough to see plenty of detail, as well as fine detail. It's as if each doll is having her/his portrait taken!
Below is an exceptional "boutique" of miniature
19th Century decorative objects and silver
Width x Height x Depth
22" x 13" x 11''
558mm x 330 mm x 280 mm
The wooden-framed open shop with angled sides has built-in shelves back and sides with painted finish to simulate marble and accented with gilt beading and decoupage trim, wooden parquet flooring, hanging tri-arm chandelier, matching ormolu framed mirrors on alternate walls. The shelves are laden with more than 60 miniature treasures including silver tea service, bird cage, tiny dolls in miniature silver chairs, Berlin porcelain statuary, collection of clocks, rare book press, and much more. Excellent condition. An outstanding original presentation of rare antique miniatures in early shop.
Height: 17" (430 mm.)
Bisque swivel head on kid-edged bisque shoulderplate with modeled bosom and shoulderblades, blue glass paperweight inset eyes with spiral threading, dark eyeliner, painted lashes, mauve-blushed eyeshadow, brushstroked brows, accented eye corners, shaded nostrils, closed mouth with outlined lips, dimpled chin and philtrum, pierced ears, blonde mohair wig over cork pate, slender kid bebe body with scalloped upper edge, kid-over-hinged hips, wooden lower legs, kid-over-wooden arms, bisque forearms. Condition: generally excellent, restoration to one finger on left hand. Marks: Bru Jne 5 (head and shoulderplate). Comments: Leon Casimir Bru, circa 1884. Value Points: splendid eyes are featured in this beautiful bebe from golden age of Bru, original body, lovely antique costume, leather shoes signed "Bru Jne Paris 5".
13" (33 cm.) Bisque swivel head on kid-edged bisque shoulderplate with modeled bosom and shoulderblades, blue glass paperweight inset eyes, dark eyeliner, painted lashes, brushstroked brows, accented eye corners and nostrils, closed mouth with outlined lips, brunette mohair wig over cork pate, slender kid body with scalloped-edge kid collarette, kid-over-wooden upper arms, bisque forearms, wooden lower legs. Condition: generally excellent. Marks: Bru Jne 4 (head and shoulders), Bebe Bru...(partial original paper label on body). Comments: Leon Casimir Bru, circa 1886, Value Points: charming fellow has original body, great expression and painting of features, antique costume, cap, and shoes, and carrying faux-tortoise mandolin and leather case.
I certainly do not know much of the lexicon of the world of dolls.However, you can see just how much research goes into describing these true antiques! I still cannot believe just how great these toys have lasted for a hundred years, and through the 1800's, 1900's, and 2000's.
I'm sure these exceptional genre of "toys" will survive much much longer.
Their legacy is truly a marvel over the ages!
I certainly was elated to find such a fantastic company, and I would especially
like to thank Mr. Stuart Holbrook, the President and chief auctioneer of the firm. When I wrote to him, he was more that happy to help me out with this post, but all the thanks is from myself to him.
His experience and knowledge is most exceptional, ah truly is an expert extraordinaire in his genre of the doll world!
I hope that everyone enjoyed this post, and will now have a great resource for researching any dolls that they have or will have seen at auctions, marketplaces, and in special antique stores.