Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine, Holiday-11.14

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 81 of 195

he collecting world is turning its gaze to antique toys to see how they were originally celebrated and to appreciate the eclectic styles that were initially intended for children. The new passion from adult collectors lends not just to the preservation of these items, but continues the evolution of the life of antique toys. My sisters and I grew up on a farm in the country. We didn't have many toys, so we would create our own imaginary scenarios. Our favorite fall fan- tasy was stomping down the alfalfa in the field next door, creating the out- line of a small house. We would take our aluminum pots and pans there and ice our mud cakes, pretending to cook for the ladybugs we captured. Every day after school, we couldn't wait to run out to our alfalfa house and play. It was so simple, but it was a quality of life never forgotten. Our first exposure to all the many toys being offered for sale were those special days when our mom would take us to the toy section in a depart- ment store as she shopped upstairs. For hours, my sisters and I would read every comic book, touch every toy, inspect all the many gadgets and stare at the tiny green turtles in the aquari- um. Somehow just enjoying them without ownership was enough. On rainy days, we would pull out our stack of "Classic Fairy Tales." Lying on the floor with our feet up on the fireplace seat, we would read stories of giants and magical carpets and a goose that laid golden eggs. We never tired of reading them over and over again, drawing from those fairy tales our vivid imagination, which created our make-believe play world. My fascination with toys may have culminated from the absence of them in our childhood. I am drawn to the graphics on Victorian tin windups and the feel of the plush on Steiff monkeys and bears. I can't resist 1800s chil- dren's books with their faded colors and the scent of being tucked away in a trunk for decades. The soft shine of antique mercury ornaments and boxes of old Christmas tinsel speak to me, while the cartoon faces of vin- tage Halloween masks, tin noisemakers and old paper maché jack-o- lanterns are a collecting addiction. The word toy comes from an old English word meaning tool. Arch- aeological evidence suggests ancient toys were similar playthings that chil- dren use today. Objects from excavations of Egyptian ruins, dating as far back as 3500 B.C., show that children had a variety of painted wood balls, spinning tops of wood or papyrus, terra cotta animals, marbles, drums, kites, hoops and pull toys and dolls of ivory, gold or bronze. During the late 1860s and 1870s, factories were turning out tin toys in vast quantities. Tin horses pulling wagons, fire engines and trains were pop- ular gifts, keeping production of tinplate well into the 1930s and '40s. The first two decades of the 20th century saw the introduction of the Teddy Bear, the Raggedy Ann Doll, and Crayola Crayons. Die cast metal cars and the first mass produced airplanes for young boys were spreading rapidly, the Madame Alexander doll quickly surpassed Raggedy Ann in pop- ularity, and the Yo-Yo made its debut. As the nation segued into the 1930s Depression Era, everyone learned to do more with less. The ingenuity of the past couple of decades in toy design was sidelined, if only because so few children could afford to own something new and expensive. But dozens of toys we still consider today to be amusing to children were devel- oped in the l930s, such as the Viewmaster. It was voted by Forbes magazine as "the biggest toy of the decade." The golden age of comic books exploded in 1938 with the introduction of Action Comics and Superman. The first movie character ever made into a doll was Scarlett O'Hara by Madame Alexander in 1939. One of the cen- tury's best selling and most lasting legacies started in the 1930s with board games. Monopoly, Sorry, and Scrabble were all invented and became imme- diate successes. 1950 brought on the spark the toy market was looking for due to tele- vision's family shows. Enter Mr. Potato Head, the first toy ever advertised 80 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • H O I D A Y 2 0 1 4 Toys have helped develop our imagination and our spirit while encouraging young minds. COLLECTING B Y M A R J O R I E S N O W Antique Toys T

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Carmel Magazine - Carmel Magazine, Holiday-11.14