published by Ed Sandford on December 7, 2016
Do you need a toy restoration? Should I restore a toy? How do I restore my toys?
My response, probably not, probably not, and consider just preserving it as-is.
Do you need a toy restoration?– I would argue ‘No’ for 90% of the toys out there. For that 10% out there that is incredibly historic or almost beyond repair, sure. Please get a professional who may have the proper parts “new old stock” and possibly the correct paint. If you are having fun on a completely broken or worn out toy, you fall into my 10%. -Do deep research before digging in then have fun.
For the other 90%, please consider the history. You can never go back and discern what was hand painted, what was the original rubber, chrome, paint, smoothness, and patina of time. It is a badge of honor. Toys from the 1900’s will just have corrosion. They will simply have a few paint issues. -But if you’ve been watching your “Antiques Road Show”, note that we call that patina and character. Most toys over a century old are survivors and collectors expect problems. We expect that 80% of paint remaining may be fine…..it is all about the particular toy and age.
Should I restore a toy?– Probably not. I’ll throw out “completing” a toy, because it is always nice to find the missing parts. However, for restoring a toy I’ll highly recommend the professionals. Touchups tend to stand out like a soar thumb. Re-plating tends to not match the age of the toy. Even if the old rubber tires are disintegrating that may not be a problem; they are still there.
How do I restore a toy?– I’ll just echo my comments from above. Please preserve history! If you happened to read a popular x-bay article, they talk about how to sand the surface of your toys. Please resist! There are so many aspects that need to be reviewed and most often this will damage the toy.
I will be an advocate to wipe down the dust. Leaving some is ok, as to vouch for the age of the toy, but dust can damage over time. I’ll also advocate for a non abrasive bees wax from time to time. Confirm this though with collectors if you are unsure. Wax will often seal out the oxygen from delicate metal. Sometimes I’ll even wipe down a cast iron toy with a silicone impregnated rag. Likewise, silicone can seal out the air (gun collectors can recommend some great products). These steps though I’ll call preservation and stabilization.
In summary, consider yourself a conservator. Would you be unhappy if the Civil War bullet holes in our old American flags were sewn shut? Would you prefer it if we touched up the abrasions on our NASA Apollo capsules? Would it be better to wash and bleach “Dorthy’s” outfit from the Wizzard of Oz to get the stains out? Toy Restorations should be done by the professionals only after full consideration of history and all other options. The next collector generation will appreciate it!