Vintage Toy Time

A look at the history of toys.

This month’s Collectables and Classics auction features a large array of antiques and vintage toys. From antique German cars, to modern Barbies and teddy bears, Abbeys Auctions team member, Ed, explores the history of toys from days gone by…..

Ed shows off some Vintage Toys in a recent Collectables & Classics auction
Abbeys team member Ed shows Lot 742, an Antique German Lehmann Tut Tut wind-up tin toy car.

Toys have been around since ancient times with board games and even wooden and ivory dolls found in ancient Roman temples. Whilst many ancient toys were created for educational and religious purposes it wasn’t until the late 18th century onwards that toys became readily available to the emerging middle class.

A perfect example is Lot 745: an antique victorian doll from the 1870s. Bids start at $100. This doll was once a little girl’s dream. Finley crafted porcelain with styling haute couture clothes; she was a status symbol to show wealth as well as being a toy.

The need to find a more durable and cost effective replacement for wood led to the creation of the first tin toys in 18th century Germany. The tradition of German tin toys continued to the 19th century with well known collectable names such as Lehmann. Lot 742, starting at $120 includes a charming antique Lehmann Tut Tut wind up tin toy car.

Although taken for granted today, the humble teddy bear was not created until the early 20th century. In 1902 President (Teddy) Roosevelt was on a hunting trip and refused to shoot a black bear cub after finding it too irresistibly cute. Once the story became popular a new toy, the teddy bear was born. The German company Steiff quickly established themselves in 1902 as the prominent name for teddy bears. With limited edition runs, Steiff bears are loved by adults as much as children to this day and can be found in this auction at lots 768 to 785.

In the post war world tin toys became a way of rebuilding national economies. Japan partially excelled at the production of whimsical and novel wind up tin toys after refocusing much of their post war industry to consumer goods. Post war England, Germany and America also produced many iconic toys now highly collectable. Lots 730 – 753 present a unique selection of rare toys sure to bring nostalgia and a smile.

Collectables and Classics starts at 9:00am on Saturday the 15th July 2023.