Art of The Tin Toy

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The creation of an aesthetically appealing display is much more open to individual creativity than the conservation factor which has, as we have seen, certain absolutes.

Personally, I consider display to be a highly important part of a collection. Consider this, for the cost of one good toy it can be possible to display the whole collection beautifully. Show cases should be in keeping both with the home in which they are housed as well as the toys themselves.

Railway collectors are fortunate in that there are so many wonderful accessories made to complement the locomotives and carriages. It is not difficult to build a most attractive showcase vignette around a station with trains, figures, ticket machines, lamps, scales, luggage. Indeed, a railway collection can be like a series of windows each with a different scene. To me the accessories are just as important as the trains themselves.

Collectors of other toy categories have to be more creative and think laterally to achieve interesting displays. Early cars and horsedrawn carriages can be displayed with early dolls’ houses or stables of a suitable size as well as some of the wonderful early lamps. Figures are crucially important for a display and there were many interesting figures made by companies such as Pfeiffer that can be used alongside automobiles or carriages. Small piles of goods and luggage to a suitable scale can add to a scene. Early hand painted figures displayed amongst a group of large scale automobiles or motorcycles look wonderful too.

Fortunately, many of the early toy boats are so decorative and elaborate that they make a scene by themselves as relatively few accessories are available. Heyde and other companies made sailors and other civilian figures that look good on the decks of early boats. Toy lighthouses are hard to find but make a wonderful background display to an early boat. Dockyard or lineside cranes can be used to ‘load’ boats and coastal guns look good displayed next to a battleship. Early aircraft which can be difficult to display look good in a group, perhaps with some early airship or balloon toys.