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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Antique Toys and the Internet Marketplace

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, June 11, 2006



Sharon and Bob Huxford have been editing books about antiques for over 30 years.


Their names are on 40 books in the library database.  They are experts in their field and are a mainstay at Collector Books, Inc.


They edited the new 10th edition of "Schroeder's Collectible Toys: Antique to Modern, a price guide" which has been added to the library collection.


Antique price guides are a popular part of a library collection. 


They can range from a general guide to antiques to a specific type of antique, such as this book, which covers toys; to something specific like Steubenville Pottery products.


An interesting part of the Huxford's newest book is the introduction.


They provide an excellent analysis of the current marketplace for antique toys, and the impact of the Internet and eBay on that marketplace.


They report that the market for antique toys has slowed since the 1990s.


Thousands of antique toys are offered for sale on eBay every day, with some dealers setting up their own electronic storefront on the Internet.


Over the past 30 years, the number of toy shows held in the United States has declined, with those still held experiencing poor attendance.


The Huxfords say, "The Internet is where sales are made, and it's great, to a point."


Most dealers have told the editors that the impersonal aspect of Internet transactions makes the thrill of traditional auctions, malls, flea markets, and garage sales come alive.


Internet antique sales have affected values.  With more people on the online marketplace, everyone has become a "dealer."


As a result, rare toys may now appear multiple times per month and supply has outpaced demand.


In addition, there is now a wide range of prices for the same item, even the same day.


The Huxfords report that the positive aspect is that truly rare toys are exposed to more buyers driving some prices for specific items higher.


Relying on eBay results for pricing is difficult since prices can flex wildly within the same day.


Prices for toys in mint condition have increased, while prices for toys in lesser condition have dropped since the volume of the marketplace allows collectors to go for mint condition.


Prices tend to drop in the summer with outdoor activities and flea markets in competition for the eBay user's attention.


The current hot selling antique toys include tin products of Felix, Popeye, Superman, and Dick Tracey; and steel toys trucks by Marx, Structo, Smith Miller, and Hot Wheels.


Toys currently not selling well include lunch boxes, Pez, Star Wars, G.I. Joe, and Mego figures.


The Huxfords advise to watch for reproductions, special editions, and limited editions, which have little value.


They recommend that it is a great time to add antique toys that you will enjoy.  "A good old toy on the shelf is worth far more than money sitting in a bank."


The 10th ed. of their new antique toy book lists 24,000 entries, and they note that they are only "scratching the surface" of antique toys.