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Vintage and Antique Wind-Up Toys

While these mechanical wind-up collectibles are called toys, the original creations were expensive and were intended for adults. One of the earliest creations for the Dauphin of France, from around 1660, was a detailed battle scene with a charging cavalry and sounds of explosions. Although most of the vintage wind-up toys are simple in design, they are entertaining and fun for collectors who are both kids and adults.

How did the concept of wind-up toys originate?

The concept for the mechanics of wind-up toys came from the development of clockworks in the 1600s. A key tightens a coiled metal spring that turns gears as it uncoils, causing movement in parts connected to the gears. Among these antique wind-up toys, just about every movement, such as walking, dancing, and drumming, has been recreated. Some wind-up toys even contain music boxes. A benefit of the simple spring-and-gear clockwork mechanism inside these vintage and antique wind-up toys is that no matter how old they are, it is simple to repair them and to make them operational again. Just open them, and replace the broken part.

Why are these items referred to as tin toys?

When mechanical wind-up toys started to be made for kids in the late 1800s, they were made of painted tin, lithographs, or celluloid to keep them affordable. Today, they are made of plastic. As you browse these wind-up toys, you will see that the details have held up well on many of these vintage toys, and many come with their original boxes.

What are some of the wind-up toy designs?

Many older wind-up toy designs focus on cars, trolley cars, trains, and ships. Dancing figures are also common types of vintage and antique toys.

You will also find amusement ride wind-up toys created by Chein between the 1930s and the 1950s, including a Ferris wheel, carousel, rocket carousel, and roller coaster.

During the 1950s, Disney sold Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto as wind-up toys. These Disney characters could be found riding on trains, driving cars, gardening, drumming, and rocking.

Another common theme for vintage windups in the 1950s were robots and space toys.

Who manufactured vintage wind-up toys?

Among the manufacturers are Marx, Chein, Schylling, Shuco, Structo, Linemar, and Jaymar. When you’re browsing toys made in the early 1900s, these are the names that you’ll see most commonly. However, if you’re looking for a more obscure wind-up toy, you might need to widen your search radius beyond these manufacturers.

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