Sunday, December 28, 2014

12/28/14 Report - Lead And Other Toy Soldiers And How They Might Help You Date A Site.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Vintage Dug Lead Toys.
Toy soldiers have been around for centuries.  They go back to the time of ancient Egypt.

Most of us know the green plastic soldiers featured in the movie Toy Story, but toy soldiers have been around for a long time. 

Most lead soldiers predate 1966.

You might be surprised to learn that many have double-digit retail prices.

By the end of he 19th century, the Mignot and Heyde companies produced painted lead figures but they were expensive and only collected by the wealthy.

In  1893 the William Britains Co. invented the process of hollow casting that produced hollow lead soldiers which were less expensive.  Toy soldier collecting became more common.

Here are some additional highlights of the history of toy soldiers from the web site link below.

More Dug Metal Toys.

Readily available by the mid-50s, unpainted plastic toy soldiers were omnipresent in the toy boxes of children around the world. Their success launched the introduction of painted plastic figures, which soon surpassed the competing lead models in sculpting and painting sophistication.

During the post-WWII years, the U.S.-based Marx Toy Company and its rivals produced inexpensive boxed toy soldier playsets...

1966 marked a turning point in the history of toy soldiers. International concerns about lead poisoning brought about new laws which banned the manufacture of toys containing lead...

In the late 1960s and ‘70s, anti-war sentiment turned the tastes of the public away from military toys like toy soldiers...

In the mid-1970s, cottage industry companies like Tradition, Blenheim, Nostalgia, John Tunstill’s “Soldiers Soldiers” and Marlborough reintroduced metal soldiers, now made of pewter, antimony and tin...

By the early 1980s the metal soldier market was still miniscule. A newly resurgent Britains began to produce metal figures in a new alloy as early as 1973, but the production didn’t hit its stride for a decade or more. Plastic production was dropping off in the early ‘80s, falling further into oblivion to the point where many collectors could only obtain figures at tag sales, swap meets...

By the late ‘80s, the world of plastic toy soldiers had come back to life. The baby boomer collectors of the 1960s had grown up and were now looking to rebuild the collections they remembered so fondly.

In the plastic arena, the 1990s saw a huge revival in the toy soldier collecting community. Some call this renaissance the “Second Golden Age” of plastics (the first being the glory days of the 1950s).

I've quoted liberally from the following linked web site.  Check it out for more of the story.

I think this information might help you date a site.  I'm sure you'll come across a lead soldier or two if you do much detecting.

"ENGLAND" On Indians Leg.
The first soldier shown in the top picture is the hollow cast 2.25 inch variety following the type of the William Britains Company.

The second is lead and shows no evidence that it was ever painted

The third in the top picture is a colorfully painted lead Indian.  It appears to be higher quality.  It has considerable paint loss.  Most interesting is the word England on the back of one leg.

  The first soldier in the second picture is solid lead, no paint, and seems to depict a flame thrower.

I think I made that one myself and found it when detecting the yard of my old home.

I received a Christmas present one year that included an electric heater that melted lead and had molds for making your own toy soldiers.  I am pretty sure that is one that I made.

The knight is the only one of these figures that is not lead.  It is made of some other type of metal.  The details seem clearer on that one even though it is smaller.  It was found on a local beach.

By Far The Most Modern Of The Group.

The surf is supposed to get up to 3 to 5 feet this afternoon but wind is from the South.  Don't expect much improvement.

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Happy hunting,