Many a Lancashire antique chest has been used to store toys, which can also be worth a lot to collectors if they are old or rare enough.
Dr Walter Oster and his wife Florence, of Cumberland, USA, originally bought toys for their children, but then began collecting vintage playthings for themselves, visiting antique shops and auctions across the local area. During 52 years of marriage, they amassed a collection worth $40,000 (around £24,940), including rarities worthy of any antique cabinet in Cumbria. Now retired, the Osters have decided it’s time for their toys to be displayed where other people can enjoy them, and have donated the entire collection to the Allegany Museum, close to their home in Maryland.
Every toy in the collection was made in the US, predominantly between 1915 and 1930, and purchased either locally or from the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. All in working condition, the most valuable exhibit is a mechanical cast iron Andy Gump toy, made by Arcade and valued at $6,000. There is also a skating Popeye, WWI steam ships, a circus, an Amish wagon driver and two Lindy planes, valued at $2,200 each. However, the real worth lies in their sentimental value. Mrs Oster said:
“Knowing that a child long ago enjoyed the pleasure of playing with it, especially someone in this area, gives me the most joy of collecting.”
The toys will be on display until New Year’s Eve and will eventually form part of a larger permanent exhibition. Meanwhile, parents wondering where to put all their children’s new presents after Christmas should consider a robust antique chest. Lancashire antique dealers have plenty to choose from.
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