Many people seem to get started with toy collecting more accidentally than deliberately. There may be the old one-eyed teddy that nobody has the heart to give away; there may be the favorite train set that brings happy memories of rainy days indoors. Or you may visit a flea market and find yourself buying a doll because it is like the one you once had. Old toys have a way of fetching back precious memory fragments of the time when life had more varied and more endless possibilities, and this is one of the main appeals of toy collecting. Other reasons include the aesthetic appeal of the toys and the excitement of coming across a rare or unusual toy. Some people also collect toys as an investment, which is rather a good idea actually. The New York Times reports the price of an 1880 cast iron mechanical doll as between $15,000 to $20,000, and there was a rare (and controversial) Freedman’s toy bank, “in the form of a black man’s head”, that went for $250,000. Keep in mind though that toy prices don’t always skyrocket through the roof.
Value of a toy depends upon –
• The dealer selling the toy.
• The demand for the toy.
• The area where the toy is being sold.
• The condition of the toy. Toys in mint on card condition are worth a great deal more than toys that have been used.
• The rarity of the toy.
• Any unusual feature or historical significance of the toy.
Some favorite toys with collectors are – Dolls, Wind-up Toys, Mechanical Banks, Action Figures, Character Toys, Cast Iron Toys, Battery-operated Toys, Toy Soldiers, Toy Vehicles and Toy Guns.
Here are some tips for collecting toys –
• It’s a good idea, from both the financial and time management angle, to focus on a single toy line to start with. You could begin collecting by era, manufacturer, material or category – Breyer model horses or My Little Pony models, for example – and expand your collection to include other toy types later on.
• Collect toys that really interest you. Considering the investment factor doesn’t hurt, but it’s much more fun to get toys that you enjoy; deriving enjoyment should really be the main point of any hobby.
• Research the toys you want to collect. The more you know about your collection the better. With enough knowledge, you will know how to seek out the best toys, where to find them and what their current prices are, and there will be less chances of getting saddled with forgeries or inferior reproductions.
• Read all the books, magazines and newsletters on the topic, visit websites and online groups and network with other collectors and dealers. You will be surprised at how many skills you can pick up just by starting a collection – research skills, literary skills, aesthetic and cultural appreciation skills, social skills and business skills.
• Browse for toys at online antique/collectible sites and auction sites. Visit antique shops, collectible stores, thrift shops, flea markets, local garage sales and toy fairs.
• Avoid buying toys with broken parts. It can be impossible • Keep any tags that come with the toy. Toys with original tags have more value.
• Organize and catalog your collection well so you can keep track of what you have and what you would like to add.
• Store your toy collectibles carefully to prevent damage. Encased in plastic behind glass and away from direct sunlight should keep your toys safe.
• Have a budget for collecting toys. It can be a pretty addictive hobby and it wouldn’t do to spend your entire salary on it. Don’t forget to save.