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What are the most collectable antique toys and games?


When we think of antique toys, our thoughts often turn straight to vintage toy cars, but because vintage toys is an area of collectables that taps in to so many childhood memories, the scope for collectors is vast. Here are our top 5 favourites.

Vintage board games

The staple of many family Christmas holidays, board games are lots of fun but occasionally they can also be valuable, particularly those from the 19th and very early 20th centuries. Monopoly remains the most frequently played board game but because of how common it is, modern versions of the games do not command large amounts of money; it is the harder to find editions from 1934-54 which have increased in value thanks to their rarity. There are some exceptions, however, including an original example, hand-drawn and painted by the game’s creator, Charles Darrow which sold for £100,000 at auction.

Antique toy dolls

Early examples from the late 18th or early 19th centuries are prized additions to any collections as very few have survived in good condition. Porcelain dolls date from the mid-18th century and generally realise good prices whenever they come onto the market, with those in their original clothing and with a maker’s mark realising four figures. Wooden peg dolls are highly sought after, as are rag dolls, particularly Walker dolls. For more information on How to sell antique dolls, our article has some useful information. Moving forward in time, early Barbie dolls are now also commanding lucrative prices at auction, with an early vintage blonde Barbie from the 1950s selling for tens of thousands of pounds!

Vintage Dinky toys

Condition is key with any vintage toy car, as is having the original box, but as these were often well-loved and played with, boxed examples in pristine condition are becoming harder to find. Dinky Toys was launched in 1934 by Hornby, and early models were intended to add realistic detail to train sets; look for items from the initial range which included a tank, a tractor, a sports coupe, a motor truck, a delivery van and an open sports car. By the time Dinky closed in 1979, it had produced in excess of 1000 models and colour combinations. Our article The vintage toy cars in your attic that could be worth thousands looks at this area of collectables in more detail, describing what to look for in a vintage toy car.

Vintage cast iron toys

The processing of cast iron into functional items was first established in the 19th century with animal figures and vehicles being among the first toys to be produced. The industrial revolution saw the peak of toy production but by the Second World War many cast iron toy makers had gone out of business. The majority of sought after examples therefore originate in this time period and notable manufacturers are often American. Names to look out for include Hubley, A.C. Williams and Kenton Lock and the most sought after models for collectors are vehicles such as cars, motorbikes, emergency vehicles (fire engines) and farm vehicles.

Vintage lead toy soldiers

Children have always loved playing with toy soldiers and today, this area of collectables represents a serious investment for experienced collectors. 18th century examples were aimed mainly at the affluent higher classes who could afford such detailed, hand-crafted items, but by the following century, mass production began in Germany with the Heinrichson, Heyde, and Gebrüder Riechewere companies. William Britain revolutionised the industry when he developed the first hollowed out figure in 1893 in the UK. Britain’s first figures represented prevalent war campaigns and were hand-painted in intricate detail. As with all antique and vintage toys, condition and manufacturer impact on value, but with vintage lead toy soldiers, so do rank and uniform, with collectors amassing complete sets from specific wars or historical periods.

At Hemswell Antique Centres, our dealers of vintage toys and games have a passion and expertise that cannot be matched and they welcome visitors to view items in person. For collectors wishing to sell their items, consider becoming a Hemswell dealer and become part of our network of over 400 dealers housed in our four main buildings.

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