Before World War I most home-made toys were very primitive and mostly made from either wood, cloth or even pebbles. The most popular purchased toys were toy soilders. The very rich could afford some toys made out of metal – although these toys were very scarce. Most children had to be content with the more common wooden toys.
The beginning of ‘toys’ as we call them today started in Nuremberg (Bavaria, Germany) which is considered the ‘historic center’ of the toy industry. The use of the word ‘toy’ was used here many years before the rest of the world adopted its use. It is believed that Nuremburg’s pewter trade started the tin-plated toy industry for which the town was to become famous for.
These old tin toys were hand-made from sheet iron plated with a thin, protective coat of tin to help prevent rusting. Later – after the industrial revolution – powered machinery was used for mass production of tin and molded toys. Germany dominated the commercial market until the 1920’s and 1930’s when Japan as well as the United States began production of tin toys.
Fast forward to after World War II – Germany and Japan tin toy manufacturing had just about run its course due to a lack of supplies. After the war the Allies noting that both countries needed to rebuild, aided them in re-starting their toy manufacturing. Most of the toys produced during this time spanned the gammut from very simple to very intricate – some almost ‘clockwork’ in their detail. These toys have become highly collectible today.
Special marking on these toys are:
Germany, US Zone toys are from the period late 1945 – early 1950’s
Occupied Japan toys are from the period late 1945 – 1948
It is possible that you could find some toys that would not fall into these time frames. For more toys and pictures visit my Texas Toy Man page in Texas Antique Mall