Thursday, July 19, 2012

Collecting -- and collecting information

This eBay photo was very helpful. I have the car, but not the
box. There are no company markings on the vehicle, but the
carton indicates it's a Cragstan product.
I've written about some of the concepts of collecting before. (Principles of Collecting, Lessons from York). Recently, I've been thinking about them again.

Dad's a member of a toy car collector's club, and they're pretty serious about their meetings. Each month a member hosts the club at their home, and presents a program on some aspect of collecting. For October, Dad decided he would host and the subject would be Japanese tinplate cars of the 1950's and 1960's.

Now he chose that topic because he already had a fair number of examples. Well, actually, they're my examples. Most of my childhood toys remained with my parents and were incorporated into the family collection.

Since the cars are mine, Dad assumed I could talk about them more knowledgeably than he could -- so I've been volunteered as the speaker!

I have to admit this is not my area of expertise, but I don't mind doing the research. The problem is, there simply aren't that many reliable reference sources for Japanese toy cars 1950-1969.

Part of the issue is that of all the toys produced in Japan during that time period, the robots and space toys are the most popular, so most of the research available focuses just on those type of toys. Another problem is that Japanese companies produces some top-quality car models fashioned out of beautifully-lithographed tinplate. These are the toy cars that command the highest prices, and the attention of collectors. And also the bulk of the research material.

There isn't much information about the mid- to lower-priced toy vehicles, and virtually nothing about the "penny toys" -- the type of Japanese cars I'm using for the Straco Express layout.

Sp how am I going to assemble enough information about our collection to do a decent talk? Well, I'll have to do some forensics. I have a pretty comprehensive list of Japanese toy companies of the era and their logos. I have the cars themselves that I can examine for clues as to manufacturing origins and dates.

And I have eBay. Now I'm not relying on the descriptions of the toys offered for sale -- people make their best guesses as to what they have. Sometimes they're right, often they're not. But some of the vehicles are pictured with their original boxes -- and that's where the most reliable information can be found.

It's a challenge, that's for sure. But it's also fun. I have no intention of becoming a serious collector of Japanese tin toys -- but I like learning them just the same. If I can find the information, that is.

Collecting -- and collecting information

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