Art of The Tin Toy

  1. Although every collector has their list of dream toys that they would like to own, the best way of building a fine collection is to take opportunities as and when they arise. The most unusual toys can appear at the least expected moment and these opportunities should be taken. There are still constant surprises especially with 19th century toys and if an item has quality, appeals and is in the right condition it should be bought even if it is not on your ‘shopping list’.
  2. Always buy the best quality and condition that you can afford. Long after the price has been forgotten a great toy in fine condition will give pleasure and usually proves to be a wise investment.
  3. Learn from your mistakes. Every collector and dealer makes mistakes either as to value or originality. As long as a lesson is learned just put it down to experience and move on. Always look forward to your next acquisition rather than fretting over a past mistake!
  4. Be very careful in attempting to clean or restore a toy yourself. The old medical adage of ‘Physician do no harm’ can be adapted to ‘Restorer do no harm’. Cleaning with the wrong materials or ‘touching up’ a toy to ‘improve’ its appearance can seriously damage or devalue an item. It is always best to leave it in its virgin, as found state than try to overclean and lose patina. Simple cleaning with enzymatic fluid (commonly known as spit) soaked cotton buds will do no harm and works well. This can be followed by a light polish. Techniques needed for cleaning and paint conservation will vary from toy to toy depending on the type of dirt, the paint or lithographic finish and many other factors. I personally leave this to the professionals.