The stories aren’t really about items; they’re about people. Yet we choose to collect the things that last after the people have passed on.
I can relate to my friends’ stories as I get out the cookie cutters that were my Grandmother’s, the bowl that belonged to my husband’s great aunt and, best of all, the globs of painted clay that my sons gave me to hang on the tree during their preschool years. My favorite memories seem to be tied to cookies and ornaments since I loved making them myself as a child. I think all of us also remember favorite toys from long ago Christmases (not that grown ups can’t still get toys, according to my husband).
Baby boomers are great ones for collecting vintage toys like Barbies and Match Box Cars. Most collectors aren’t seeking out the best examples of old toys because they like the paint colors or Barbie’s shoes. They are collecting memories from their childhood… from a time long before worries about the stock market, employment rates or gas prices.
I know what my old favorites are but I was curious about what other people collect. The dolls, cars and action figures were as popular as I expected them to be, but the biggest surprise was the popularity of toys that came with kids meals from fast food restaurants. What a shocker! I used to torment the family pets with them and then shoot them with a bb gun, but I don’t remember really playing with them. I know that isn’t very ladylike, but I wasn’t much of a doll fan. Other popular collectibles include robots and science fiction toys like ray guns. Care Bears make the list along with their pricier cousins by Steiff.
I read through dozens of Top 10 lists of collectible toys and many of them were very different. There are lists that include toys my own kids played with that hardly seem old enough to count, but I suppose if people are seeking them out – and paying more than the original price – then they are true collectibles. There are also lists that feature toys from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, etc, depending on the age of the list’s creator. I found one that listed some really weird and obscure toys that I later found were for sale by the list’s author. That’s cheating.
Another thing I found interesting during my search was the number of “redo” toys. These are the newly made toys that look like the ones from earlier times. It seems that grandparents want to buy toys that remind them of the ones they love. Then there are the favorites that never go out of style, like Red Rider bb guns, bicycles, and Barbie.
I wish you all Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. Find a toy you love and give it to a child who will love it… and let you play too.
Libby Holloway is a Certified Appraiser of antiques and residential contents. She is a member of the International Society of Appraisers where she is currently serving as Secretary of the Board of Directors. She is also a partner at Antiques and Such in Beaufort, SC. Libby can be contacted at www.LibbyHollowayApprqaisals.com