Guide to Toy Collecting

Guide to Toy Collecting

by Harry L Rinker


$18.87 $19.95 Save 5% Current price is $18.87, Original price is $19.95. You Save 5%.
9 New & Used Starting at $1.99


From America's leading experts, your ultimate Guide to Toy Collecting

If you've ever dreamed of displaying a spectacular toy collection or if you're just looking for a fulfilling new hobby, here is the expert guide you need to become a topnotch toy collector. You'll receive priceless advice on the history of toys, becoming a garage sale master, spotting a fake, and recognizing an investment, as well as:

  • Finding and identifying toys
  • Caring for and exhibiting your collection
  • Understanding collecting terms
  • Verifying authenticity
  • Using internet resources

And much more!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061341410
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/01/2008
Series: Collector's Series
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 7.38(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Harry L. Rinker is a leading national expert and co nsultant on toys, antiques, and collectibles and the author of numerous books on collecting. He writes a weekly news column, hosts a radio call-in show, and has appeared as an expert on several national television shows. Rinker's personal collection of over 50,000 objects contains approximately 7,000 toys.

Read an Excerpt

Guide to Toy Collecting

Chapter One

The History of Toys

Toys play a myriad of roles, especially as learning tools to foster creativity, critical thinking, and imagination through play. Some toys assist children in acquiring the skills necessary to socialize and understand fairness. Others can help improve physical skills and provide a positive outlet for a child's energy.

Examining a culture's toys allows anthropologists, sociologists, and other researchers to theorize about a people's values and beliefs. Toys can also offer a historical perspective, such as when dolls are clothed in period costumes and boats and wheeled vehicles mimic their larger contemporaries.

Ancient Toys

In antiquity, many toys were actually objects used to play games, such as balls. Boys' games tended to be team-focused and more highly competitive than games played by girls. Marbles is one of the earliest known games. A game similar to chess was played by the Babylonians as early as 4000 B.C.

The issue of whether an object is or is not a toy continues to perplex anthropologists. Is a small toy horse figurine a toy or a cult object?


Small toy boats carved from wood were found in a child's tomb in pre-Dynastic Egypt. By the time of the Dynasties, toys made of bone, ceramics (especially clay), ivory, stone, and wood were common. Balls were made of glazed papyrus or painted wood. Girls played with Nubian dolls. Some dolls even had jointed limbs. Toy animals were lifelike in appearance. Some were animated, such as a crocodile with a moving jaw or a man washing or kneading dough. A dancing dwarf toy,manipulated by strings and pulleys, was found in a Middle Kingdom, twelfth Dynasty tomb. Tipcat, a game in which a stick with tapered ends is struck to drive it into the air so the player can attempt to hit it, dates to the Middle Kingdom.

Board games also were popular. Mehen, the game of snake, was played on a surface depicting a snake whose body was divided into squares. Playing pieces resembled lions and lionesses. Other games included Senet, closely related to backgammon, and House and Jackal, similar to the modern board game of Goose.

Greece and Rome

The toy vocabulary expanded during the Greek and Roman eras. Infants had rattles in the shapes of animals. Boys played with wooden swords and rode hobby horses. Dolls, often jointed, were made of cloth or wax. Unisex toys like rolling wooden hoops and stilts became popular.

The Greeks and Romans continued to play Senet. Greek and Roman children played a dice-like game in which four pieces were thrown, resulting in 35 different scoring possibilities. The dice were made from the knucklebones of a sheep or goat and the game ultimately evolved into modern-day jacks.


Kites were popular in China by 1000 B.C. In A.D. 969 early playing cards were found, made of clay and tin. Later examples were made of wood. The Chinese and Japanese are credited with the creation of the whipped top.

Medieval and Renaissance Toys

Until the later half of the twentieth century, many scholars thought that children growing up in the Middle Ages (A.D. 476 - A.D. 1450) experienced very little childhood. A series of recent discoveries found buried in the Thames River near London has revealed that as early as A.D. 1200 children enjoyed metal toys in the shapes of cannons and guns, figures, and miniature furniture such as cauldrons, frying plans, jugs, and stools. Middle Age metal toys were made from pewter, an alloy of lead and tin, which deteriorates easily, explaining their low survival rate.

As the Middle Ages transitioned into the Renaissance, many toys were homemade and mirrored life, such as dolls, figures of saints, horses, and knights. Large fairs might feature a merchant or two selling trinkets for children.

Members of the aristocracy ordered toys, often made of precious metals, from skilled silversmiths and other masters. As the period ended, adults, especially women, began to collect miniature rooms, which were exact duplicates to scale of larger rooms. Cabinets of curiosities, which included old toys, were in vogue by the seventeenth century.

European Toys of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Centuries

As early as the fifteenth century, Nuremberg, Germany, established itself as the European toy capital. Manufacturing toys became a major cottage industry. Carved wooden toys were given to agents to be sold at markets and fairs. Families concentrated on making one or two types of toys, often for several generations. By the late 1700s, cottage manufacturers were creating toys made of cardboard, leather, paper, silver, tinplate, and wood.

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the German toy cottage industry was rapidly fading. New innovations in manufacturing techniques like iron casting, and new materials like papier-mâché and tinplate, opened the door to the mass-production of toys. German and other European manufacturers perfected the hand-painted and lithographed tin wind-up toy. Stamped tin gears replaced heavier and more awkward brass gears. Trains, trolleys, and other toys became a whirlwind of motion. Leading German manufacturers included Gebrüder Bing (Nuremberg, 1866-1933), Georges Carette et CIE (Nuremberg, 1886-1917), Lehmann (Brandenberg, 1881, acquired by VEB Mechanische Spielwaren in 1948), Märklin (Goppingen, Germany, founded in 1859), and Schuco (Nuremberg, 1912-1976). By 1900 a third of all the toys sold in the United States were imported from Germany.

Guide to Toy Collecting. Copyright © by Harry Rinker. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

Introduction     1
The History of Toys     8
Beginning a Collection     24
Six Additional Approaches to Collecting Toys     58
Tools of the Trade     68
Finding Toys     80
What's It Worth?     92
Is It Genuine?     106
Managing Your Collection     118
Places to Find Toys of Distinction     128
You Are a Toy Collector!
What's Next?     138
Glossary     145
Bibliography     149
Acknowledgments     151
Photo Credits     153

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews