Antique toy appraisal

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Mearto Specialist:


Delia has nearly 30 years of experience at regional and international auction houses in the United States, and is also currently the editor of an art and antiques trade publication that tracks market trends, auctions and antiques shows. Delia is a generalist in glass, ceramics, silver and other metals, fine art, textiles, antiquities, wines and spirits, stamps and currency, collectibles and dolls and toys. Additionally, she is a specialist in 15th to 21st Century furniture from around the world. Her extensive professional network of appraisers, curators, dealers and collectors has proven to be an invaluable resource in her work for Mearto.

The valuation of antique toys is the same with other antique pieces. You need to look into a combination of factors before you can determine the overall value. There are several types of appraisers for specific types of areas; hence, appraisal experts can valuate based on their areas of expertise. Depending on what type of vintage toy you own, you can have it evaluated by someone who is an expert on that field.


According to expert appraisers, this is one of the most critical factors used for determining the value of antique toys. The more expensive toys are manufactured in small quantities. And yet, they are also the ones that are highly collected. Due to the limited quantity, they tend to become more expensive and treasured by the owners. The higher quality and cost of these rare vintage toys enable them to last longer.Another factor that would make rare antique toys more expensive is the level of skill and craftsmanship in making them. Since these are specialized kinds of toys, they cannot be easily replicated. Hence, the surviving items are most likely the only ones left of its kind.


Majority of the antique toys from America were manufactured in the 1850s onwards. A few others were specifically made in the 1880s. Due to the age of the antique items, they will be considerably more valuable than the ones that were made in the 20th century. Many collectors of antique toys seek the oldest toys they could find. But if you own a toy that is manufactured in the 19th century, it is highly likely that you would be able to get a good value for it (especially when the parts are intact and the overall condition is good).


Speaking of the condition, antique toys can be difficult to find with their pieces intact. Since they were initially manufactured as playthings, you can expect that they will have some level of wear and tear in them. When it comes to antique toys, the value is measured by the mint condition. It should have all of the accessories and finish intact; plus, it should not have undergone repair.True mint condition also means that the original box with which the toy came in with (at the time of purchase) is still available. If your toy does not meet this standard, there are still collectors willing to pay for “good condition” toys. However, do expect the price to significantly lower as compared to toys in true mint condition. Any signs of damage such as wear and tear, scratches, or dents in the body can also lower the value.


When collecting desirable objects such as antique toys, the authenticity is always something that you have to validate. There are some vintage toys manufactured in the 19th century but there are also many new toy makers that replicate them in the late 20th to the early 21st century. If you want to sell your antique toy at its true market value, you need to be able to authenticate that it is truly antique.The first thing you need to do is to look for a signature from the original toy manufacturer. Some toy makers from the 19th century might even put in the manufacturing date (or year) onto the toy’s body. If you also possess some form of documentation that will prove the maker and manufacturing date of your antique toy, it can cause the value of the toy to rise significantly.

Types of Antique Toys

To make it easier to understand the value of each piece of vintage toy, it is important to look into each type. Not all toys are of equal value. Therefore, identifying each type will give you with a fairer idea as to who would be willing to collect them and how much they would be willing to pay for these antique pieces.

Moving Toys:

The advent of pull toys or those that are operated manually (on typically on wheels) was brought about by the desire to create interactive toys. Over the centuries, there are new variations to this type of toy especially as the technology continued to develop. Many of the newer types of toys involved mechanics and electronics.

Tin Toys:

In the 20th century, tin was the number one choice of material for toy manufacturing because of its cheap cost. In addition, it was known to be highly durable. Robots and vehicles are some of the toys made out of tin.

Building Toys:

LEGO is probably the most popular brand of building toy around. But before LEGO, there are already a few types of building toys in the market. Another type of building toy that was popularized in the early 1900s is made up of interlocking beams known as Lincoln logs.

Action Figures:

The prevalence of action figures as collectible toys came about as popular cartoon characters and superheroes were used as models.

Games and Gaming Systems:

This is another one of the most popularly collected types of toys over the history. Atari and Nintendo video games are among the most popular types of gaming systems that are highly valued today as antique collectibles.

Transportation Toys:

From cars to model trains, there are plenty of toys that are created based on transportation facilities. In fact, they are among the most collected types of antique toys in the market.

The Art of Collecting Antique Toys

Now that you know what the different types of vintage toys are available, you might be curious as to the allure behind collecting antique toys. Many of those who collect vintage and rare toys have a passion for this type of collecting that is rooted from their fond childhood memories. To most collectors, these antique items represent more than just a monetary value but something more sentimental. This is also the reason why many of the avid collectors are willing to pay a lot of cash for rare and authenticated antique toys.

How do you date antique toys?

Dating antique toys is an important step if you want to be able to maximize its value. Look for any stenciled, printed, or embossed patent numbers on the toy’s body. This is an important feature to use when dating toys from the 1800s. You can also find some of this information on the box of the vintage toy. Hence, it is important to keep the box intact as it can also contain important information about the toy itself.For toys manufactured outside of the US, the country of origin is usually indicated in the body. However, they might not be as reliable as they can only indicate broad dating and will not tell exactly when it was manufactured.

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