Dreaded Words on Christmas Day; “Batteries not included”
We hope that your holiday was restful, and spent with family and good friends. And the very best for the New Year and new adventures in 2023.
Toys of one sort or another have existed from when humans started to gather in groups. Mostly to entertain the children while the elders were busy with daily survival tasks. Toy makers started to market their wares around the early 14th. century. As a city population wealth increased. This continued for hundreds of years up the the early 20thcentury. The standard & popular toys of that time were toy soldiers, metal trains & cars and dolls. The wealth of nations gave rise to many toy manufacturers. Names like A.C. Gilbert, American Flyer, Buddy L, Dinky Toy, Hasbro, Ives Corporation, Lionel Manufacturing Company, Marklin, Louis Marx & Company, Meccano, Milton Bradley Company, Parker Brothers, Schuco and A. C. Williams Company.
Many of the above companies are still operating or sold to other companies and have been renamed. The 1950’s to the 60’s saw an increase in toy sales, unlike any previous years. Returning veterans who started families were the largest buyers, and the grandparents who had lived through the most difficult times in the 1930’s were eager to spoil their grandchildren. It is reported that the Sears “Wish Book” Catalog was the most popular and widely read book. It had hundreds of pages of toys and Christmas related items. The catalog made shopping for the kids a lot easier. The parents just had to look at all the pages of the circled items, which was wished for. Most of the toy companies were made in America, or Europe. To get an idea of what I’m talking about, visit https://christmas.musetechnical.com /ShowCatalog/1950-Sears-Christmas-Book
Viewed by today’s standards, the battle of the sexes was very present. Boys had Space, Military, Cowboy and adventure themed toys. Even set likbuildere Meccano or Gilbert, encouraged boys to build the creation of their minds. Or the chemistry sets which included radioactive elements, which are very dangerous to one’s health. Boys were free to explore which they did. The girl toys were more restricted to dolls, doll houses, kitchen / household related toys. Depending on the age of the girl, the toys were more artistic or limited in fashion, exercise or sports. Play-Doh, started as an industrial wall paper remover or vinyl stickers to create a scene of a story line. The hula-hoop or skipping rope were mostly marketed to girls. These views by toy manufacturers continued to classify boy toys and girl toys separately. Lionel Manufacturing Company realized that the majority of their market was male, and tried to market a pink train set for girls. Sadly, it bombed. There were girls who enjoyed playing with boy toys, trucks, trains and everything else. The idea is a toy is a toy, and you can make it do what you want it to do in the eyes of the player.
Toys are very collectable, the world has a wealth of collectors for all sorts of toys. The most popular & valued toys from the 1950’s are:
- Lionel & American Flyer Trains, the locomotives are sought after. The running cars, accessories & track have not held their values.
- Revlon Dolls, By Ideal, with original box and accessories.
- Erector Sets by A.C. Gilbert & Meccano. Complete sets with original packaging.
- Metal Pedal Cars, ones that are in excellent shape, no rust and are complete are almost impossible to find.
- Military related toys that are almost in new condition with original packaging
- Toy Coca-Cola related toys, has to be complete and if you have the original packaging & documentation, you can go to Disney.
- Any Animated toy robot or tin metal windup cars. Again, condition is everything.
The 1960’s Baby Boomer era of toys, which also started the unisex toy revolution It didn’t matter who played with the toy, as long as it was played with:
- Vintage Barbie’s, ideally with original box, and all accessories. Condition is everything.
- Gi-Joe, condition, packaging, and accessories are very important. Some say Gi-Joe peaked in the 2000’s, but collectors are still buying.
- Early Etch-A-Sketch (Prehistoric Ipad) Finding on with an original box, never used is very rare.
- Hot Wheels, vintage late 1960’s sets with original boxes and complete sets are very rare. Many of the earlier vehicles in their original packaging do not exist in the open marketplace, or are in private collections.
- Easy Bake Oven, the first batch of 500,000 sold within a year. Finding an earlier model with the original box, documentation, accessories & cake mix is almost impossible to find. (If you find one, I do not recommend eating the cake mix.)
- Johnny Seven O.M.A. (One Man Army) toy Machine Gun. Finding one that has not been used, with original packaging, documentation and is complete, is almost impossible. (In the early 2000’s one sold in a private auction in Dallas, Texas for $ 8,000.00 US Funds)
Things to consider
I have mentioned that the condition is very important. Is the item new, never used, or opened? Or an item is in excellent condition which is very hard to determine. It’s based more on a personal observation of the item which can be subjective.
An asking price on any internet site is just an asking price. Do searches on completed sales, or even email the seller and ask what the item sold for. It will give you an indication of its potential value. Keep in mind, there are many factors that will determine your items’ true value.
Any toy owned by a smoker will be heavily discounted. They are not sought after. And if you are trying to sell a toy that has been in a smoker environment without disclosure of the smoker owned, you will have a chance that the item will be returned and a refund requested.
It is very hard to find any vintage toy in its original packaging and is complete. Which child would forgo playing with a toy immediately, then be told, you can’t open or play with the toy because it has the potential to be worth a lot of money in the future.
Present toy collectors are buying the newer generation of toys, and keeping them intact, never to be played with. All in the hopes that the toy will be valuable.
If I came across some vintage toys that were not in their original, almost new condition, I would rather have a child experience the joy of playing and discovering what was lost over time.
Disclaimer: Prestige Evaluation Inc. does not engage in any buying or selling of any personal property. Prestige Evaluation Inc. can not do any verbal appraising without a work file and consultation.
Next Article: What is Hot and what is Not. The resale marketplace for your “Stuff & Things”
About the Author: John H. Grow, ISA-AM, is a partner in the appraisal firm of Prestige Evaluation Inc. The firm specializes in antiquities, watches, clocks, jewelry, fine art, and collectables in general. John works with clients worldwide, museums, corporate, foundations and government agencies and on radio and television shows and charity appraisal fairs. A long time member of the International Society of Appraisers. Prestige Evaluation Inc. can be found at http://prestigeevaluations.com and Grow’s email is [email protected] Estates Personal Property Appraising©2023 by John H. Grow January 2023