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When collecting marbles "the bigger, the better." Some marbles are 2 inches in diameter and older marbles of this size are always of value.
Conditions not everything, and marbles can be polished. But premium prices are paid for unpolished, good marbles with no nicks.
The best marbles are those with distinct designs with uniformity, not just a blob of color. Look for a lacy column in the center and an even swirl in the outer glass or designs similar to that of a nice paperweight. Also look for marbles with figurines blown into the glass and those with comic characters on the glass.
Children's playthings have been found in the tombs of ancient Greece and in archaeological digs in Greece and Rome. The development of toys and dolls is directly linked to societys changing attitude toward children: until the end of the 18th century, children were regarded as adults in miniature and were expected to amuse themselves in the same way as adults. In wealthy families this meant children learned to handle a horse, sword and a hawk; but the children of the poor were sent to work from a young age and had neither time nor money for amusements.
Antique cast iron toys are made from molds with tight fits, and the casting is smooth like silk. It is not as heavy as the Taiwan reproductions of today. The two piece molds are held together with metal type rivets that are heated and then smashed on one end to complete the marriage of the two molds. Screws were not used to join the molds of antique cast iron toys.
With the new processes, makers could replicate the world around them with immediacy, taking advantage of current inventions, fashions or fads. First World War teddy bears came dressed in battle fatigues and dolls wore nurses uniforms. Toy zeppelins and aeroplanes were created, battleships and submarines appeared powered not only by clockwork or steam but, increasingly, by battery.
This time was perhaps the golden age of toys and dolls. Manufacturers in Europe and America were producing playthings of outstanding quality and diversity in design.
Toys of the Period include:
Lead soldiers made by William Brittain in England.
Exquisite dolls and automata produced in France.
Germany's imaginative tinplate and wooden toys, exported internationally.
The German soft toys industry which expanded rapidly with the popularity of the teddy bear.
The intricate mechanical money banks and horse-drawn toys made from cast iron in America.
American tinplate toys which clearly reflected the American way of life.
During the Industrial Revolution, changes in manufacturing and society propelled the fast developement of toys and dolls. New production techniques allowed goods, including playthings, to be made cheaply and in quantity, and the new middle class demanded toys and dolls for their children.
From the thirties, toy and doll-makers produced an incredible diversity of objects reflecting not only the world around them but also designs based on books, films and television. Mickey Mouse and his friends from Disney became instant bestsellers. Robots and space toys from science fiction were big hits, as were die cast Batmobiles and Yellow Submarines.
Today, demand for the latest cult toys and dolls leads to queues forming outside shops. Barbie dolls come with careers through which children can role-play real life and computer games allow the player to be anything from a street fighter to the pilot of a space ship. No doubt, one day, these too will be collectible.