Hemswell Antique Centres

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Can you make a monopoly collecting antique games and vintage toys?

Antique games and vintage toys at Hemswell Antique Centres


Few objects provide a more nostalgic and intimate portal to the past than antique games and vintage toys. From humble building blocks and fantastical antique rocking horses to board games and Modelled Miniatures, antiques in this particular category are bursting with enchantment. Here’s what collectors need to know...

How much are antique games and toys worth? 

Antique games such as chess go back centuries, while antique rocking horses have existed for even longer - we’re talking Roman times. But it was only in the Victorian era that children were seen less as little adults and given simple delights to entertain themselves and play with. Toys became more affordable for the middle classes during the 19th century - and there is money to be made for collectors in this area. 

Educational antique games and toys
We still see alphabet blocks in today’s nurseries that cost next to nothing, but wooden sets from the 19th century can value up to £150. Boxed spelling sets from this era, made of ivory or bone, can go for double that price. Factors which influence the value of these antique games and toys include:

  • Whether it’s in an unrestored condition 
  • Whether it’s in the original box
  • Whether it’s a complete set

This isn’t an easy ask when you’re looking at items which may have been played with by generations of children. Tin-based toys can also suffer from metal fatigue, especially if they’ve been stored in damp conditions with fluctuating temperatures. Avoid being duped by retouched antique toys (which lower value): one nifty top tip is to sniff the paintwork. If it’s freshly repainted, the smell can linger on the item for a surprisingly long time.

Antique miniatures, models and kits
Frank Hornby (1863-1936) may be famed for the model railway, but he also invented two other toys that became household names: Meccano and Dinky Toys. 

Established in the 1930s, these miniature antiques soon became all the rage with little ones. Today, grown ups - many from specialist Dinky collectors’ clubs - pay up to £5,000 for an early boxed set. The most expensive antique miniatures for sale are those that were produced for a limited period of time. One example of these is the Vulcan bomber, which comes from a small batch of antique miniatures produced in 1955 and goes for a minimum of £1,000.

Antique rocking horses
Reaching peak popularity during the Victorian era, antique rocking horses for sale can go for up to £2,000. The most sought-after have curved rockers, as opposed to a flat trestle base. Look for well-carved antique rocking horses with original paint if possible. Even if it shows signs of aging, it’ll still value higher than rocking horses with newer paint jobs. 

Where can I find vintage toys and antique games for sale?

From toy cars to board games, antiques that were once beloved possessions of generations gone by are highly collectable. As a result, they’re also hard to come by - especially those in mint condition or in their original boxes.

Do attend jumble and car boot sales: you never know who might bring their childhood toys or Grandma’s antique games down from the loft to sell. For peace of mind you’re dealing with genuine items, visit the treasure-packed Hemswell Antiques Centres near Lincoln and browse our nostalgia-inducing collection of vintage and antique games and toys for sale

Collectors tend to specialise in a particular ‘type’, so knowing what you’re looking for before you arrive can make for happier hunting. If you’re new to collecting, our quirky, wonderful selection might just spur you into a fresh and exciting specialism. As always, the most important part of antiques shopping is to go with what you love.

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