Britains Toy Soldiers: The History and Handbook 1893-2013

Britains Toy Soldiers: The History and Handbook 1893-2013

by James Opie


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This is the first full-color history of the world-famous toy soldiers to chart the whole story of their development from Victorian table toy to 21st Century collectable. Prior to 1893 the family toy business of the Britain family was struggling as the toy industry was dominated by German manufacturers and importers. Then came the fateful decision first to import, then to design and manufacture, toy soldiers, an area the German firms were particularly strong in. Britains Toy Soldiers were born and soon their boxes stamped with the slogan 'Best Quality English Make' were being eagerly opened by little boys across Britain and then around the world. The rest, as they say is history and it is all captured here by James Opie, the world's leading expert on the subject, as he lovingly traces the varying fortunes of arguably the most famous British toy company.

Illustrated with lavish color photographs, many of them featuring items from the author's own collection, the book includes feature sections such as collectors' favorites and prices, high-value and famous sets, artistic highlights, quirks and mysteries. It is without doubt the most authoritative book on the subject and will be welcomed by the thousands of devoted collectors world wide as well as many more with fond memories of childhood battles with these beautiful toys.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781848844445
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 08/05/2016
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,173,954
Product dimensions: 7.10(w) x 9.80(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

James Opie is the toy soldier consultant to Bonham's auctioneers and recognized as one of the world's leading experts on the subject. He has a very significant collection of his own, which he has been building since childhood. For over a quarter of a century, until his recent retirement, James Opie was also editor and buyer for the Military and Aviation Book Society and various other book clubs. He has written seven previous books on various aspects of toy soldier collecting.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Auctioneering xi

Introduction xiii

Why yet another book on Britains? Short summary of Britains history to date. What this book offers collectors.

Chapter 1 The First Age of Britains - Start-up 1893-1900 1

The Toy Industry in Britain in the 1890s. The Britain family before 1893. Germany leads the world in toymaking. How it all began. Hollowcasting. Test models. Breaking into the market. The first Souvenirs. Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Heroes of Omdurman. Defining Versions and Variations. Collecting Ancient Britains. The first hundred sets.

Chapter 2 The Second Age of Britains - Expansion 1900-1918 38

Boer War to First World War. Copyright and fighting the competition. Cheap lines and small sizes. Incorporation, France and Beiser. Salvation Army, Boy Scouts, Railways and Floor Games. The Paris Office. Cowboys and Indians, and Arabs.

Chapter 2a Britains Small Size, an investigation in detail 1896-1915 79

Chapter 3 The Third Age of Britains - The Golden Age 1919-1941 108

The effect of Peace. Home Farm. Zoo. Gardening. Export. Depression. Coronation. Disney. Re-armament Special Paintings.

Chapter 4 The Fourth Age of Britains - Hollowcast Twilight 1945-1967 158

Export drive. Coronation again. New Technologies. Lead poisoning. Britains hollowcast become collectable.

Chapter 5 The Fifth Age of Britains - Plastic and Diecast 1953-2013 192

Herald. Hong Kong. Tractors. Demise of the British Toy Industry.

Chapter 6 The Sixth Age of Britains - Collector's Toys 1983-2013 247

Nostalgia and Re-living the Dream. The Britains Collectors Club.

Chapter 7 The Seventh Age of Britains - Collector's Models 1999-2013 296

Historical Realism. Lord of the Rings. Peter Rabbit.

Chapter 8 Collecting Britains - Lore and Language 334

Terminology. Nicknames. Care. Condition and Values.

Bibliography 432

Appendix: Table of Significant Hollowcast Sets 440

Index 468

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