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Antiques Considered - March 19, 2014

This iron fire brigade toy comes from a Northern Neck family, whose son played with it as a child almost 70 years ago. It is in excellent condition, including the surface of the paint. The former child says that he took good care of his toys. The end product bears out his statement.

Iron toys only keeping increasing in popularity and consequent demand. This one is remarkable for its condition given its age.  In the mid-to-late nineteenth century iron became an inexpensive means of producing toys. The ones made in that first wave of production obviously are more rare, and command quite high prices. This piece dates between 1920 and 1940, and is American-made.

Later copies have forged into the underside a phrase indicating they are replicas of the earlier ones. Still later ones have come in hordes from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and Japan. They show having been cast more crudely, and often are painted in garish colors. This one is from the first phase of reproduction, but prior to the onslaught of foreign knock-offs.

Antique iron toy clubs and collectors’ societies abound, and are easily available on the internet. Many of the members being great collectors themselves might be able to define the company that made this piece, but without a label of name in the casting, attribution of manufacturer always will be speculative.

This toy, given its superior condition, is worth $250. It would receive good bidding in a toy auction, and might go for more. The fire wagon is more scarce than some of the other examples, such as the many carriages.

Most importantly, this toy never should be washed, merely dusted to keep it clean. I recommend keeping it out of direct sunlight to prevent the paint from fading. Much of the value here comes from its condition, which needs to be maintained.

Henry Lane Hull
Commonwealth Antiques & Appraisals, Inc.
P.O. Box 35
Wicomico Church, VA 22579
Cell: 804.580.0514
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www.commonwealthantiques.com

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