Art of The Tin Toy

In an ideal world every toy that you found would be in perfect condition and restoration would not be necessary. The world is not ideal, consequently restoration has an important place in toy collecting.

The finish of a toy is all important, be it hand painted or lithographed. Every collector has to decide for him or herself the degree of restoration that is acceptable. This depends very much on the toy in question. Factors such as the type of toy, rarity, size and complexity must all be taken into account. A replaced mast or lifeboat on a large toy boat, the lamp on an early automobile are much more acceptable than significant paint restoration. When restoring an important toy it is always a good idea to keep a photographic record - this is important if the toy is sold in the future as it shows the purchaser exactly what is original and what is replaced.

Just as toy collecting has become more sophisticated so has restoration and we are fortunate now that there are several individuals and businesses who specialise in early tin toy restoration. Restorers often have specialist interest in one manufacturer perhaps Marklin, one area of collecting such as gauge 0 trains or in one field of expertise such as painting. Many replacement parts are now available from small specialist suppliers. A complex early toy might have to go to 3 or 4 different specialists to conserve it. I deliberately use the word ‘conserve’ as it implies keeping originality and retaining integrity whilst returning a toy to a condition that you admire and are proud to display. Early paint sometimes has a tendency to flake - it is a time consuming, thus costly, and skilled task to refix this virtually invisibly, but although more expensive it is preferable to repainting as originality is retained.

We are happy to advise on and organise restoration/conservation for clients. This is a very important subject as with a major restoration project several visits must be made to assess progress and decisions must be made as to what should and should not be done.