June 18th, 2011 by

Military firearms are highly collectible antiques that peak a lot of buyers interests. One rare antique that fits this category is the matchlock weapon. The matchlock first came into existence in the 14th century. The significance of the matchlock was that it had a mechanism or “lock” invented to facilitate the firing of a hand-held firearm. Its design removed the need to lower by hand a lit match into the weapon’s flash pan. The matchlock also made it possible to have both hands free to keep a firm grip on the weapon at the moment of firing, and, more importantly, to keep both eyes on the target.

The classic European matchlock gun held a burning match in a gun that was known as the serpentine. A variety of matchlock was also developed called the snapping matchlock, in which the serpentine was spring-loaded and released by pressing a button, pulling a trigger, or pulling a short string passing into the mechanism. This type fell out of favor with soldiers, but was often used in fine target weapons. One weakness of the matchlock was the necessity of keeping the match lit. The sole source of ignition for the powder was the match. If the match was not lit, then the mechanism was useless and the gun became little more than an expensive club. This was mainly a problem in wet weather for the matchlock gun. It became an issue when the damp match cord was difficult to light and to keep burning. Another drawback was the burning match itself. At night, the match would glow in the dark, possibly revealing the carrier’s position. The distinctive smell of a burning match-cord was also a dead giveaway of a musketeer’s position. This was one reason why soldiers in charge of transporting and guarding ammunition were amongst the first to be issued self-igniting guns like the wheel lock and snaphance. The matchlock was also uneconomical to keep ready for long periods of time. The matchlock first appeared in Europe in the middle of the 15th century. By the 16th century, the matchlock was universally sold everywhere. The Janissary corps of the Ottoman army adopted matchlock arms from Hungary gradually from the 1440s onwards. Improved versions of the musket were transported to India by Babur in 1526 and then to Japan by the Chinese. The Japanese were technically able to produce tempered steel such as swords and blades. However, they preferred to use work-hardened brass springs in their matchlocks. The low cost of production, simplicity, and high availability of the matchlock kept it in use in European armies until about 1720. Both the Qing Dynasty and the Joseon Dynasty used matchlock arms as late as the 1850s and 1870s. They used these during the Second Opium War and the United States expedition to Korea. Improvised matchlock guns were last used by pro-Indonesia Timor Leste militias in the 1999 conflict.

Ivey-Selkirk Auctioneers – May Jackson Rooms Auction

May 10th, 2011 by

Ivey-Selkirk Auctioneers’ May Jackson Rooms Auction is finally here!  You’ll see a variety of beautiful pieces – far too many to list here!  But here are a few of the many pieces available at this amazing auction:

  • A Fine Selection of English Furniture and Decorative Art including a Harvest Table, Welsh Dresser, Pew, Cupboards, Bookcase, Terra Cotta Chimney Pots and Mirrors
  • Exceptional Painted French Louis XV Style Armoire with Beveled Edge Mirrors, Louis XV style Marble Top Bombe Chest, Pair Louis XV Belle Epoque Armchairs and a Louis XV Belle Epoque Settee
  • Antique American Bookcases, a Baker Armoire, China Cabinets, Contemporary Design Furniture and Wrought Iron and Patio Furniture and Outdoor Elements
  • Oil Paintings and Prints including a large Floral Oil by Sebouten
  • Asian Decorative Art, Lamps & Chandeliers
  • Handwoven Carpets and Area Rugs, Sterling and Plated Silver
  • Flo Blue, Ashworth Bros., Mottahedeh, Limoges, Staffordshire, Waterford, Baccarat and More
  • Large Selection of Silver, Costume and 14k Gold Jewelry
  • American Samplers and Longaberger Baskets
  • Toys & Collectibles, Much More!

Grey Flannel Auctions Inks Deal With Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation

April 29th, 2011 by

Free sports memorabilia appraisal day planned for June 4 in Baltimore

WESTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Officials at Grey Flannel Auctions announced today that they have entered into a three-year marketing and promotional deal with the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation Inc. The foundation is an independent, not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to perpetuating the historic legacy of Babe Ruth, Baltimore’s Orioles and Colts; and local and regional sports. It also operates the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards.

As part of the new arrangement, Grey Flannel will conduct two annual events at the Sports Legends Museum, which is located adjacent to Baltimore’s Oriole Park and operated by the same management as the Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum. The first of this year’s jointly sponsored events will be a free sports memorabilia appraisal fair held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 4, 2011, in the Sports Legends Museum’s theater.

Grey Flannel’s team of experts will be on hand to accept consignments to future auctions and to provide free appraisals on game-worn apparel, equipment, vintage collector cards, autographed items and any other professional sports memorabilia. Those who attend the appraisal fair will also be admitted free of charge to the Sports Legends Museum.

“It’s a great honor for us to be associated with the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation. Their exhibits and programs at the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum and Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards instill a very positive and lasting impression on youngsters, while at the same time honoring Baltimore’s titans of professional sports,” said Grey Flannel Auctions’ president, Richard E. Russek.

The appraisal fair will take place on the same day as an Orioles home game at Camden Yards (start time: 7:05 p.m.). “It’s a perfect way to spend the day – visiting the incredible Sports Legends Museum at no cost, meeting the Grey Flannel team at the free appraisal fair, then topping it off with an evening in Baltimore’s beautiful Oriole Park, watching the O’s play the Blue Jays,” Russek said.

Michael L. Gibbons, executive director of the Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum and Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, commented: “I have long been a fan of Grey Flannel Auctions’ operation, and to be able to host this event with them for the next three years is very exciting for all of us at the Sports Legends Museum. We think it fits nicely within our mission and look forward to it with great anticipation. It’s a win-win for both sides.”

Additional information about the appraisal fair will be available soon at and

SPIDERS, TEA CADDIES & LOTS OF MONEY… Box lot of Tin ware turns into a valuable shiny treasure

April 21st, 2011 by

Contributed by – a membership-based service specializing in providing identification & appraisal advice on antiques & collectibles.

Tricia Evans could not wait to get home and rummage through the box-lot she had just won at her local auction in Boston.  It looked like a bunch of old tins and empty metal containers, but she had a good feeling about it.  After all, this is what’s it’s all about when it comes to treasure hunting and she had only paid $40 for the lot  –  what could go wrong?

Somewhere near the bottom, she quickly noticed a heavily tarnished metal box in the shape of an almost perfect cube with a hinged top lid.  ‘That’s odd’ she muttered, ‘what a weird shape for a tin box’.  She took it out and opened the lid.  She is not sure if she screamed because of that huge dead spider – or what was left of it as it was barely hanging from a dusty tattered cobweb – or her excitement from seeing the shiny interior lining of this box and recognizing that it was a Tea Caddy.  She had seen others before, but this shape was certainly news to her.

After the initial shock and with her heartbeat still racing, she spent a good portion of the next two hours cleaning and restoring the appearance of her mystery find and examined it carefully to see if there were any makers marks or Hallmarks.  From years of experience of enjoying and dealing with antiques & collectibles, Tricia knew that these marks have a way of speaking to you and can provide lots of information.

With loupe in hand, she finally noticed three tiny punch marks.  They looked British – oh! wait, perhaps French – she couldn’t tell for sure.  Her personal library has about six reference books on silver marks that she had bought for some serious money several years ago, but they seemed too difficult to use these days and she wanted fast and accurate information.  Where do you begin?  At the British section?  The French section?  Maybe these marks are American after all?  Is it Sterling or Silverplate?  How old?  Any value?

Tricia is a member of an online marks identification & appraisal service,  She quickly entered her password and begun her quest for more information.  It soon became obvious that these marks are neither British nor French and definitely not American.  She used the Gallery Search feature that displays all marks in shapes or letter categories and found two of the marks on her Tea Caddy, but the third looked like a small fish or dolphin – it just didn’t add up…

As a member, she knew that she could ask the specialists on the site at no extra charge.  It is part of’s Help Guarantee feature that allows members to send questions if they cannot find a mark or have doubts.  Before she knew it, she received a reply:  her Tea Caddy was Sterling Silver and was made by DINGELDEIN GEBRUDER in Hanau, Germany.  It dates ca late 19thC and the marks she could see were “pseudomarks”, in common use by Silversmiths in that region.  Tricia was elated!

She then clicked on the Values4Antiques section and searched for “Silver Tea Caddy”.  Images of hundreds of auction records on Tea Caddies popped up and she could select the ones that looked like hers and then view them in more detail.  Tricia relished the thought that she may have stumbled upon a true treasure this time and, more importantly, she now had a fair estimate of what she can expect to sell it at auction.  She contacted her local auction house again and consigned it for sale.

Next Sunday, her Sterling Silver Tea Caddy sold for just under $1,500.






Myrtle Dell Brown Living Estate

April 15th, 2011 by

Arbor Antiques Services, Inc.
Phone: (281) 388-1075
Email: Send E-mail Question Now
Web Site:

Address of Sale:

6935 Shady Ln
Sugar Land, TX 77479
Google Maps or MapQuest or Yahoo Maps

Directions to Sale:

This is a beautiful single story home located in the Great Woods Subdivision. From 59 south take the Grand Parkway/Crab River Road Exit. Turn left onto Crab River Road. Continue to first light and turn left on Sansbury Blvd into Great Woods Subdivison. Turn Right on Knoll Forest Dr and Left on Shady Lane. The house will be on the left. Shady Lane is a cul-de-sac and parking will be limited. Please respect the neighbors and do not block the driveways.


Sale Dates and Times:
4/16/2011 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (Saturday)
4/17/2011 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (Sunday)
4/18/2011 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (Monday)

Terms and Conditions:

All items sold where is as is. No delivery will be provided. However, we can provide you with numbers to make arrangements. All items purchased must be removed no later than 6:00PM last day of sale unless other arrangement are made. Local Checks and All Major Credit/Debit Cards accepted with proper ID. A fee of $55 charged on all NSF checks

Sale Description:

This is a beautiful well kept home.  Due to the sell of the home we are having to expedite this sell immediately.
Please note the days for the sale will run differently than usual. Due to the time restraint we will not have our normal preview the night before.

JOIN US SATURDAY MORNING for Mimosas, Coffee and other goodies!!!!!!


Precedent, Inc of Newton, N.C. swivel barrel Chair in beige upholstery
Precedent, Inc White linen upholstered swivel Easy Chair
BarcaLounger in a green leaf pattern tapestry Upholstery
Drexel off white tapestry upholstered arched back sofa
Imperial Furniture Co Classic American Federal Style Mahogany Tilt-top         Table on Tri-pod pedestal Base

White Upholstered, Skirted Boudoir/Slipper Chair
Solid wood hexagon Pine Drum Table
Solid Wood Octagon Drum Table
Solid wood Square Pedestal base Coctail Tables (2) purchased from         McDaniel Furniture Co.
Brass & Glass Tea Cart
Skyline Furniture Blue Brocade fringed bottom Boudoir/Slipper Chair
Broyhill Olive Green Velvet Upholstery Tuft Back Hi-back Swivel Rocker
Mahogany Mid-Century Coffee Table

Binata Finish 5pc Bedroom Suite: Triple Mirrored Dresser, Armoir w/2 drawers below 2 Doors Cabinet w/3 drawers, 2 Night Stands, and a Cathedral King Size headboard with Sleeping Beauty Kingsdown Pillow top Mattress and Foundation

Twin Bed with white Day Bed with Bolster Pillow Back
Stratford Brown Upholstered Recliner
Vintage Antiqued Green Paint 2 Drawer End Table
PR Virginia House Maple Captian Style Bar Stools


Celadon Glaze ceramic garden stool
Silk Palm (5 ft)
Large Silk Ficus (8.5′)
Misc. Silk Plants
Original Oil on Canvas Pastorial (24″ H x 48″ W) beautiful frame in a         broque style gold leaf frame with linen mat
Original Oil on Canvas Forest Scene (18’H x 22″W-) gold leaf frame with         dark green velvet mat.
Collection of 4  (8″H x 10″W) original oil on canvas by P. Murphy: 2 ea         European Street Scene and 2 ea Harbor Scene purchased from         McDaniel Furniture
Original Oil on canvas 2-door Portal linen mated in goldleaf frame
(32″w x 42″H) by Valerta
Pair Porcelain Table Lamps with raised shell designs
1970’s Large Porcelain Table lamp with Hanging Fern embossed decorated
Crystal Table Lamp
1970’s Cork Base Table Lamp


Paul Muller Selb Bavaria “The Locarno” China: 4pc Place Setting Service for 6 including dinner plate, salad plate, cup & saucer.
One or more of;
Vernonware Gingham Dinnerware & serving pieces
Taylor-Smith-Taylor Luray Pastels
Royal Haeger
Hall teapot
Emile Henry Marcigny, France mixing & bakeware
Nancy Calhoun Dinnerware


Schrade, Camillus, Parker, K-Bar, Century, Frost Cutlery, Bear MGC Cutlery, Craftsman, Case, Buck, Imperial Ireland Stainless, 960 Puma Cub,
Sharp, Gerber, Stag (Ireland), Frontier, Coca-Cola USA, Mercator, Master Mechanic, Westren, Tree Brand, American Blade, Victorinox Swiss Knife, J.A. Henckels, Rodgers, Pfadfinder, Hoffritz Solingen and more


RARE, 1950’s LEWSID JEWEL by LLEWELLYN, Inc. LUCITE Box HANDBAG/PURSE :  Full lucite body and handles in a gorgeous,  White Mother of Pearl Lucite with black File lining in excellant condition

Vintage 1970’s-80’s Shoes

Vintage Hats made especially for “The Fashion” of Houston

Chinese Silk Embroidred Robe

Costume Jewelry

Designer & Quality Clothing and accessories.


KENMORE SEWING MACHINE: model 117-959 vintage in cabinet with
3 drawers and stool/chair

Hand turned and hand polished Game Board. 38 marbles hand cut from semi-precious quarried minerals: petrified wood; petrified coral; amethyst; red jasper; green jasper; fancy jasper; epidote; amazonite; brown batik; honey agate; brain stone; brecciated jasper; calcedony; green sard; phantom agate; purple batik; tea obsidian; white obsidian and marble.The game of solitaire is reputed to have been invented by a nobleman confined in the Bastille prison during the french revolution.


Phillips 20″ Flat Screen TV
Daewood VHS/DVD Player
Zennith 32″ Oak Cabinet Console TV
Symphonic 19″ TV/VHS Combine
Sony Servo Turntable
Sony 5-dics automatic disc loading system CDP-C312M
Sony Remote Control Compact HI-Fidelity System LBT-D105


Large Solid Wood Excutive Style Vintage 6-Drawer Desk
Book Case with Drop Front Desk Section 6’H x 3’W
Book Case/6 shelves 6’H x 3’W
Drop-side Printers Table
Brothers Selectric II Electric Typewriter
Royal Aristocrat Vintage Manual Typewriter
Fellows Powershred PS 75 Shedder
Wood/veneers 2 Drawer File Cabinets (2 each)
Brothers Fax Machine
Scentry model 1170 Fire Safe

Swann Galleries – Early Printed Books

April 10th, 2011 by

Click here to view the entire catalogue for the Early Printed Books auction that is scheduled for April 11th, 2011.

Charleville Muskets and Antique American Firearms

March 24th, 2011 by

Contributed by – a membership-based service specializing in providing identification & appraisal advice on antiques & collectibles.

To find prices and values for Antique Rifles or Firearms and Militaria or Civil War collectibles of all types or styles and periods, please visit service to search through millions of auction records to compare with yours.

The best of smooth-bore Muskets of colonial and Revolutionary days were the Charleville muskets of France. From 1717 to 1777, they were constantly being improved. French muskets previous to the model 1763 were extensively used by French troops in this country and Canada during the early colonial wars, and demonstrated their superiority over contemporary British muskets, which remained practically the same from early colonial times until long after the Battle of Waterloo. After the embargo of 1774, no British arms were allowed here, except for those in the hands of British troops.

The Charleville muskets were made in St. Etienne, Tulle, and Mauberge, besides Charleville itself. The first one, model 1717, measured 62 1/2 inches, with a barrel length of 46 7/8 inches, the barrel being secured by four pins and one iron band situated a third of the way from the muzzle to the vent hole. This model had a walnut stock made with a high comb; round sling swivels mounted on the left side, one at the band and the other in an eye in the stock Just to the rear of the side plate; a flat lock plate, with the rear edge oval; and a thin butt plate secured by pins and a screw. All mountings were of iron. An iron strap or tenon connected the frizzen screw with the frizzen spring screw – a unique feature in this lock. The hammer was flat and goose-necked, with beveled edges. The ramrod was of wood.

The next Charleville was the model 1728, the measurements of which were the same as the model 1717. The rear of the barrel was finished off with eight flat faces, the top one extending to within six inches of the muzzle, the others each five inches in length. A rigidity stud on the under side of the barrel extended into a notch in the stock. The barrel was secured by three bands, the upper one with two rings over the barrel and a spring to the rear, the middle one with a projection on the under side. All the fittings of the model 1728 were of iron and of light construction to guide the ramrod, held by friction. The lower one, also held by friction, was beck shaped at the bottom. The lock plate, flat-faced with a point to the rear, measured 6 1/2 inches by 2 3/8 inches. The hammer was flat and goose-necked, and the jaw screw was notched. The walnut stock, of rather light construction, had a deep comb and a decided drop.

All the fittings of the model 1728 were of iron and of light construction. The iron pan had three flat faces, a fence at the rear, and a tenon to the frizzen screw. The trigger guard was 11 5/8 inches long and finished with ball points at the ends. The lower swivel ring was secured by an eye in the left of the stock just to the rear of the side plate, the upper one by the middle band. The ramrod of the 1728 and all succeeding models was of iron.

The next model, the 1746, was much the same as the one preceding, except that the rear of the barrel was octagonal, the rear of the lock plate convex, and the muzzle band shorter.

The model 1754 was a great improvement over preceding weapons. The total length was reduced to 56 inches and the barrel length to 41 inches, with a uniform weight of 10 1/4 pounds. Officers’ guns were still further reduced to 7 pounds, with a total length of 54 inches. Oval sling rings were placed under the stock, one at the trigger guard and the other at the middle band. The muzzle band was greatly lengthened, and all three bands were spring fastened. The hammer remained flat-faced and goose-necked.

The next model, the 1763, has been called the Lafayette musket, owing to the fact that he supplied several thousand to our forces at his own expense during the Revolution. This model was selected as the pattern for our Springfield muskets, model 1795. The length was 59 5/8 inches, and the barrel, which was 44 3/4 inches long, was secured by iron bands, all spring fastened at the rear, with sling swivels placed as on the preceding model. There was a flat face on each side at the rear. The lock plate was 6M inches long and flat-faced, and the hammer was flat with a reinforced under jaw that was much stronger than the goose-necked varieties. The regular bayonet for this musket was in advance of its time; it was of the contemporary socket variety with a three-sided blade, but it was secured by a locking band.

Only minor improvements were made in the models following the 1763 – the 1766, 1768, 1770, 1771, 1773, and 1774 – and very few if any were used here. But the model 1777 was the best smooth-bore musket of its day. It had a caliber of .69, and its superiority was due in part to the greater exactness of the caliber and the closer fit of the bullet. The total length was 60 inches and the barrel was 44S8 inches. This weapon was used by the French infantry in the Yorktown campaign.

In this model there were five short flat surfaces at the breech end of the barrel, which was secured to the stock by three iron bands with springs to the rear. Oval sling swivels were secured to the under side of the middle band and in an eye just forward of the trigger guard. The lock plate had an oval surface with beveled edges forward; the hammer was oval, instead of flat as in previous models, and had a reinforced under jaw; and the frizzen was made with a slight bend forward at the top.

Two features of the model 1777 Charleville were adopted in U. S. muskets. The cheek recess, 3 5/8 inches by 2 inches, on the left side of the stock was used in the U. S. musket model 1812; and the improved pan of brass, set at an angle tilting forward, with no fence at the rear, was adopted in the U. S. musket model 1822.


Dealers Wanted for Discovery TV Show!

March 21st, 2011 by

Dealers Wanted for Discovery TV Show

UK TV production company Fever Media are looking for U.S. antiques and collectibles dealers to appear in a brand new TV show for the Discovery Channel.

The program sees members of the public attempting to sell their items to a panel of dealers. These items could be anything from a vintage car, to a collection of Star Wars toys, to an original Picasso sketch.

We are seeking dealers with a good knowledge of different areas and periods to feature on the panel. We are very keen to get a U.S. based dealer involved and if the show is successful there is potential to screen it in the U.S. A fee would be paid.

If you are interested or would like to know more, please contact Kieran at

Antique Toy Soldiers & Miniatures

February 22nd, 2011 by

Contributed by – a membership-based service specializing in providing identification & appraisal advice on antiques & collectibles.

There is a long-standing interest that seems to be growing of collecting Antique Toy Soldiers or troops and battalions of these metallic Lilliputians. The most widely known organization for Antique Soldier collectors is the Miniature Figure Collectors of America that regularly convenes at various locations where avid collectors and dealers meet in admiration of the miniature martial arts. In these collectors meetings, many awards are usually handed out with a categorical diversification rivaling the Oscars.

To the regular person, this may seem a passion appropriate only to little boys, but amassing toy soldiers is becoming ever more recognized as a serious collecting concern. It is certainly becoming a great deal more expensive, a fact that may contribute to its apparent new image. Commerce is definitely taking accelerated note of the hobby. Toy soldier shops have sprouted up in such cities as San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, Pittsburgh and Denver. On upper Madison Avenue in New York stands the oldest of such stores, the Soldier Shop. Nearby, the Burlington Bookshop has been converted a balcony into a glassed-in barracks for small troops; and a midtown Manhattan store, The Complete Strategist, not only sells the toys but also entertains aficionados at Saturday afternoon “war games.”

Not coincidentally, the fine art auction house, Phillips, has frequently held many auctions in the United States devoted entirely to toy soldiers, sales that often include more than 5,000 pieces from various private Toy Soldier collections. The sums fetched are always noteworthy, rivaling amounts produced at London Auction houses.

These auctions provide good examples of what models sell for – and how, in general, prices are exceeding expectations. The appreciation in value of miniatures is dramatic. Models now sought-after used to be purchased by children in Woolworth’s – when five-and-dime meant five-and-dime. Orson Munn, who should know on two counts, since he is both an avid collector and a money manager, recalls: “Toys that cost ten cents not too long ago are today worth six dollars. I remember walking home from school to save subway money so I could buy a box of soldiers for sixty-nine cents. Those soldiers are now bringing up to eighty dollars a box.” Mainly mass-produced and inexpensive, many of these early toys are indeed treasures today. An increase in value of 50,000 percent is not uncommon. It must be acknowledged that individual soldiers once cost as little as a penny and also that fifty years of rising prices cloud the true value.

Most of the models are identified by the brand names of their manufacturers: Britains, Mignot, Heyde, Courtenay, Stadden, Warren, Johilico, Timpo, Metayer, Authenticast.

Nobody really knows how many collectors there are in the United States. We don’t even know how many important collectors there are, because, for so many years, there was closet collecting. You were considered a bit odd if you were still ‘playing with kids’ toys’ when you were in your twenties.” However, Peter J. Blum has apparently opened some closet doors. He owns The Soldier Shop, the flourishing New York City enterprise that has a mailing list of some 25,000 in the East, between Boston and Washington. He estimated that there are between 80,000 and 130,000 collectors in the nation.

The ultimate proof of the growth of this hobby has been the steady development of specialists within the field. Some collect certain brands, such as Britains, Heyde, Mignot. Others concentrate on specific units, such as colonial troops of the British Army. Still others are involved as converters, who artfully change – by welding, painting, substituting weapons – the era of a model. For instance, one patient and finicky hobbyist turned a World War II German storm trooper into a Napoleonic grenadier. Other specialists include the aesthetes, who narrow their choice to figures they consider particularly beautiful: without being pressed they will suggest that someday these may be regarded as works of art, albeit tiny ones.

Among the ranks of collectors are such aficionados as Malcolm Forbes, the publisher; Andrew Wyeth, the artist and others. Winston Churchill also collected toy soldiers; so did Charlotte and Emily Bronte. One factor common to them seems to be a basic pride combined with a wry admission of addiction. Many collectors of toy soldiers confess that they have trouble stopping once started. One is quoted as saying “I am the nuttiest of the toy soldier nuts. I started collecting troops at platoon level, and now I’m up to battalions and regiments.”

There are a huge number of different types of Toy Soldiers and many collectors seem to prefer one type over another. For example, in our research, we have encountered mounted Algerians with flying capes, Mexicans with sombreros, kilted Greek evzones, Prussians with backpacks, Chinese of the Boxer Rebellion.

The surest way to tell the collector from the dabbler is that the collector differentiates between true “toy soldiers” and miniatures. The vast majority of collectors have concentrated on the toys, which were mass-produced and originally intended as playthings. They were usually about two and a quarter inches high. The so-called “Big Three” of this field are Britains, Heyde and Mignot. Heyde, which was located in Dresden, Germany, was wiped out during the bombings of World War II, a fact that gives its products extra collecting value. Mignot is a French firm that goes back to 1825; it was from Mignot that Napoleon III ordered a small lead army for his son. Britains, which made mechanical toys in the mid-nineteenth century, decided to take a fling at toy soldiers to help celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. It introduced hollowed soldiers, rather than the traditional solid type, a technique which led the manufacturer to a preeminent position in this small world. In contrast, Germany has long been the source of a special flat metallic soldier about half the size of the standard toy and, as the name suggests, two-dimensional.

Miniatures, as distinct from toys, are made as individuals. They tend to be larger, up to ten inches tall, and they are extremely exact in terms of military detail. Miniatures are intended for adult collectors; not unexpectedly, they tend to cost more than toy soldiers. Addicts of miniatures, though they may have grown up on the garden-variety soldier, search most avidly for the more exact and historically accurate “non-toys.” These are sometimes called Collector Figures, with such brand names as Stadden, Metayer, Desfon- taines, Berdou, Courtenay and, more recently, Imrie/Risley or Historex.

The collecting dichotomy is not rigid; some collectors have both toys and miniatures, and even the price differential can be uncertain. Toy soldiers were often destroyed, mangled and abandoned by their young owners. Given this fearful casualty toll, toys from as recently as the early twentieth century have gained “antique” status simply by having survived the child wars. Reflecting this situation, for example, pre-1914 soldiers by Britains are called “Ancient Britains.” Also, rarity increased the price of many toys to above the level of the miniatures. These overlaps have led to the use of the term “model soldiers,” encompassing both types.

As with any aging objects, there is the problem of maintaining models in good condition. Lead is a soft metal; the little figures can lose arms, legs, banners, guns and spears. Their paint can be chipped. Any repairs or repainting lowers the value, but honest dealers and collectors make no effort to palm off repaired merchandise under false pretenses; on any piece that has been fixed or repainted, they paste a bit of paper with the letter R.

An overall change in the entire manufacturing field occurred in 1962 when England ruled that toy soldiers made of lead were dangerous to children and should not be produced. This spurred the already growing production of plastic soldiers, and, naturally, increased the value of pre-1962 English models. Coincidentally, the ruling gave birth to a number of companies that sidestepped the legislation by specifying that their product was not intended for children.
There have been little soldiers, plastic or pewter, as long as there have been their life-size counterparts. In a book-lined office at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dr. Helmut Nickel, curator of arms and armor, has evidence that the history of the breed goes back to antiquity. He has a photograph of a clay Greek Hoplites, the original of which was found in an ancient Greek tomb of a child dating ca 800 BC, around Homer’s time. “Much later, we can see knight-like toys from between 1360 and 1370, now in the Cluny Museum in Paris. They are about two-and-three-eighths inches high and is made of pewter.” Around 1500, there were small brass jousting figures, about five inches high.

In the eighteenth century, little armies of figurines were turned out, generally in larger quantities and all in the same mold, like tiny robots. Though mainly for museums, some were made for rather special little boys: a toy army is said to have been made for young Louis XIV.
In the nineteenth century, the largest producer of metal soldiers was Heinrichsen, in Nuremberg, Germany. These were of pewter and, as was typical of Germany, flat. In a museum in Kulmbach, Germany, specializing in metal figurines, there are 350 dioramas of such little soldiers; one battle scene uses nearly 10,000 figurines. Similar representations of battles – the American Revolution’s Battle of Harlem Heights and the 1476 Battle of Grandson in Switzerland – are in the Metropolitan’s Hall of Arms and Armor.

In fact, it is this kind of “view down the corridors of the past” that motivates many present-day collectors. Most Toy Soldier collectors are inquirers; they usually are interested in history. Although, amassing a collection is fun and exciting, especially if one can find pieces before others do. Everyone is always looking for the great treasure. Even collectors with less zeal have their moments. This is evident at gatherings of collectors, say at flea markets; it is easy to spot excited bargain hunters haggle away towards their next addition to their collection of toy soldiers.
Interestingly, many collectible toy soldiers tend to be on parade. For example, most are in the formation best calculated to show off their dress uniforms. Because of this, some of the most coveted items are noncombatants, such as military bands. Moreover, many models are only peripherally warlike, for example Hannibal’s elephant or Lord Nelson with Lady Hamilton. Others are frankly pacifistic: a brewer’s wagon with shire horses and barrels; a deep-sea diver, an archbishop.
In fact, many collectors believe that Toy Soldier design and manufacturing is an Art form. Although “Aesthetics” may be a heavy word, these figures were not made as altar pieces for a cathedral. Personally, I think the correct word is charm. They have charm, and they isolate little pieces of the past.

Seeking Passionate Pickers for The Untitled Antiques-Collectibles Competition

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