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Toy Glossary

Animated toys
Any plaything that simulates lifelike movements, whether powered or activated by spring, string, flywheel, rubberband, gravity, controlled movement of sand, gyroscopic mechanism, steam, electricity or batteries.
Artificial antiquing
Using burnt umber or a similar compound to disguise the fact that a toy has been repainted.
Plural of an automaton and refers to figures that are relatively self-operating and capable of performing multiple complex movements. Early examples feature doll-like bodies with composition or bisque heads.
Balance toys
Earliest European example was 16th century French, although most widely known in the Orient. Swinging weight is usually above or below toy. Many popular paper-mache, roly-poly toys, circa 1900, were counterweighted with pebbles or buckshot.
Balance wheel
Most often seen on horse-drawn vehicles, it is a small rotating or stationary wheel normally attached to a front hoof, or a shaft suspended between two horses, and which facilitates passage across the floor.
Unglazed porcelain, minus final firing and glazing.
Carpet runners
Transport or other moving toys used out of their proper medium (i.e. tin or cast iron trains with smooth rims rather than grooved wheels, that did not run on tracks but were usually hand-propelled).
Cast-iron toys
Made of molten gray high-carbon iron, hand-poured into sand-casting molds; usually cast in halves then mated and bolted or riveted as one. More elaborate versions incorporated interlocking, nickel-plated grills, chassis, bumpers, people, and other accessories.
Process of engraving or embossing to decorate a toy or bank.
Clockwork mechanism
Made of machined brass and steel and used to animate toys for as long as thirty minutes as interlocking gears move to uncoil spring . Produced as a drive system for toys by clock makers beginning in 1862 and ending about thirty years later in the Northeastern United States, most notably in Connecticut.
Composition toys
Material may be wood or paper pulp, sawdust and glue, molded into various shapes and painted.
Aging lines that run through the paint on vintage toys and banks distinguishing them from new examples.
Method of mass-producing, under great pressure, molten zinc and white-metal alloys into permanent molds. Sharp clean detail can be achieved. Die-cast toys were very inexpensive and generally found in the five-and-dime emporiums.
Often mistaken for a manufacturer`s mark, the initials stand for Deutsches Reichs Gebrauchmuster (translation: in-use model).
Nickname for British, solid brass, steam-powered toy locomotives made from the 1840`s to the turn of the century; so called because they sometimes left a trail of water deposited from a steel cylinder.
An acronym indicated French patent registry.
Drive wheel
Attached to piston rod that transmits energy from power source, as on toy locomotives.
A type of composition material from Germany usually molded around wire supports and which had a delicate survival rate.
Two-dimensional lead soldiers with engraved decorations.
Floor runner
See Carpet runners.
Friction wheel
A central inertia wheel, also known as a fly-wheel, activated by spring in rear wheels to set toy in motion. American toys utilized a cast-iron friction wheel ; Europeans used cast lead. Friction toys were popular from 1900 to the early 1930s.
Gilded (or gilt)
Covered with a thin layer of gold or gold substitute. The paint usually contains powdered metal.
Hauberk (`ho-bark)
A tunic of chain mail worn as defensive armor in the 12th to 14th centuries. Term used with militariana.
Hollow cast
Also known as slush cast, whereby molten lead alloy is poured into mold, which is then inverted leaving a thin layer of cooling metal adhering to its surface. Pot metal toys, as they are commonly called, tend to have less definition and are more fragile than die-cast toys.
Horse-drawn terminology
These descriptions apply to toy replications of rigs from the 1880s and 1890s in Europe and the United States.
Open four-wheeled rig with driver`s seat higher in front and two seats facing each other.
Two- and three-seated sporting rigs, four-wheeled and open; two-seated brake toys are especially prized and are known in only a few advanced collections.
Elegant closed carriage with exterior driver`s seat; named after Lord Henry Brougham, Scottish Leader of House of Commons, 1830-1840.
English trap (as in `trappings` signifying elegance)
A four-wheel rig that was rarely replicated by US toy makers.
A sporting two-wheeled vehicle, deemed too high off the ground for safe pleasure driving, often used to exercise a trotting horse.
Hansom cab
Popular covered, fast-moving two-wheeler for transporting one or two passengers; the driver controlled reins from a platform at rear of cab.
Landau (Bavaria, Germany)
Enclosed carriage with divided top that can be thrown back or let down and raised seat for driver.
Any of the various high, four-wheeled, graceful open carriages; also a type of touring car. The more fragile appearing spider phaeton often featured a rumble seat for coachman.
Posh jolly country outing or to the hunt and races rigs carrying as many as twelve passengers inside and atop the vehicle.
A decorative technique that included several layers of paint finished with a coat of lacquer; commonly applied on early American and European tin. In France, a cheaper dying method was used whereby a varnish paint mix was burned on in alcohol, then baked, achieving a thin, hard translucence.
A purveyor of goods manufactured by others; Ives, for example, manufactured toys as well as marketing those of other firms. George Borgfeldt of New York City, obtained manufacturer`s rights for certain toys and then sub-contracted their production. Butler Brothers and Selchow & Right were major jobbers.
Lithographed tin
The process was introduced to toys in the 1880`s whereby various colors and detail were printed on flat sheets of metal by a lithographic press; the toys were subsequently formed by tools and dies.
Living pictures
Lithographed paper on cardboard-jointed figures against colorful backdrop and enclosed in a glass-covered framed wooden box. Clockwork activated. Popular toy in Europe in second half of 19th century. In the United States, A. Schoenhut produced over twenty variations.
Married parts
Mating of two parts of a toy that did not originally belong together thus down-scaling it in desirability.
Technique for coating cast-iron or steel toys with molten nickel to prevent rusting and enhance appearance.
Patent date
If the patent number appears on the toy or on the box it came in, one can get a good approximation of the year any U.S. toy from 1860 to date was manufactured. German toys produced after 1890 usually bear patent dates.
Prototype of the piece ultimately to be manufactured; usually of bronze or glass, sometimes lead; when pressed in the sand it creates a mold. Pattern mechanical banks are highly prized.
Metal breastplate worn under the haubach; also quilted pad worn in fencing. Term used with militariana.
Registering banks
Mechanical banks that visually indicate the cumulative total of coins received.
Sand toys
Graphically appealing and ingenious toys of lithographed paper and wood in which a complex mechanism, powered by shifting sand, provides animation. Popularized by the French, Italians, and Germans as early as the 17th century, they were usually in a glass-encased frame. In the 1850`s, one of the earliest United States toy makers, The Tower Guild of South Hingham, Massachusetts, produced wood and tinplate examples featuring chutes and paddle wheels to cause jointed figures to perform.
Semi-mechanical bank
A bank that performs a mechanical function, but is independent of coin activation, as with a mechanical.
Sheet metal
A toy material that is rolled into a thin plate made of brass, copper and, in the case of most toys, steel. First toy usage in the United States dates back to 1895.
Short stride
Term applied to Barclay toy soldiers because its marching figures` feet were cast close together.
Three-dimensional figures usually referring to lead soldiers.
Stamped tinplate gears activate by a spring uncoiling on what are popularly known as toy wind-ups. Actually, they wind down after two to three minutes. Usually a key does the rewinding; in the case of Kingsbury, a flanged cover on a patented, sealed round housing must be turned; a lever activates certain spring-driven toy banks. Tin wind-ups date back to the 1890s.
Still bank
A bank with no moving parts.
Applied to tin toys wherein two parts are mated, and small flaps on one half are inserted into corresponding narrow slots of the other half, then bent to secure the connection.
A term often used interchangeably for both clockwork and spring-driven toys; the former offers superior quality and length of activation. Thirty minutes versus the two to three minutes for the coil or barrel spring mechanism.


  1. Bob on April 7, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    I have a Hubley Pat # 1895968 6 tire take apart cast iron car # 2117 B in which I can not find any information on. Do you have anything about this car.? I can find the pat # but not the # 2117 B. Thank You

    • Kristy on April 10, 2020 at 10:47 pm

      Hi Bob, please call Ed at our office number 1-727-777-4206…he may have more information for you about this and would be glad to help in any way he can.

  2. Paula D Truksa on May 21, 2020 at 3:49 am

    I am searching for a Jee-Bee pink and white stuffed dog. 12 inches tall. 1950’s.
    Do u have one or know of somewhere else I can try?
    I have a pic of him I can send if you need me to. Thank you, Paula

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