Janet Horner talks to Janet Glee­son about her love of vin­tage tin­plate toys

Homes and Antiques Magazine - - HOMES -

What is it that made you start col­lect­ing and why did you con­tinue?

We were ini­tially drawn to their vis­ual ap­peal – they are so bright and colour­ful, and they do things. A !er we found the plane in the snow [read more on p106], we started to look for them wher­ever we went. We’d "nd them in un­ex­pected places and buy them for Christ­mas and birth­day presents.

Did you fo­cus on their his­tory when buy­ing?

We dis­cov­ered that tin­plate toys be­gan in the mid 19th cen­tury with fa­mous Ger­man mak­ers such as Bing, Märklin and Lehmann. But th­ese were o!en be­yond our bud­get and there was an ele­ment of chance to our col­lect­ing. We be­came in­ter­ested in space toys a !er the Moon land­ings and bought ro­bots, #ying saucers and as­tro­nauts. We also re­ally liked an­i­mals. I had a won­der­ful tum­bling mon­key that terri "ed the chil­dren. He dis­ap­peared one day and I never found him again. I think one of them must have dis­posed of him!

Where did you buy them?

Mainly from junk shops and jum­ble sales. Dur­ing the sum­mer hol­i­days we used to stay with the artist Fred Cum­ing at his house in Hythe, Kent and, while there, we al­ways vis­ited a junk shop in Folke­stone that would in­vari­ably have one or two tin­plate toys. One year we dis­cov­ered that the owner had died and the shop was clos­ing down. We asked if there were any toys le! and were told to go up­stairs, where we found a huge col­lec­tion. We bought the lot for about £50.

Do you have a favourite?

Yes – it’s a sing­ing bird by Ger­man com­pany Hohner, which is best known for mak­ing har­mon­i­cas. I bought it new from Habi­tat when I was very preg­nant with my youngest son. It # aps its wings and turns its head and sings.

What ad­vice would you give to a new col­lec­tor?

Look a !er them. I keep mine dusted and oiled and I take care not to over­wind them be­cause if the spring goes that’s it. Th­ese days there are lots of re­pro­duc­tions around. If, like we did, you are buy­ing for vis­ual ap­peal, there’s noth­ing wrong with a new tin­plate toy – so long as you recog­nise that’s what it is.

CLOCK­WISE FROM THIS IMAGE Find sim­i­lar tin­plate toys at Art of the Tin Toy; Janet’s col­lec­tion of clock­work toys in­cludes ve­hi­cles of ev­ery kind, from cars and buses to air­craft and mo­tor­bikes; a 1909 bus by Bing; this scooter dates from the 1960s – find sim­i­lar at Al­fies An­tique Mar­ket.

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