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Discover Mid-America — February 2005

Children's books and things

Sunbonnet Girls Cup and Saucer (photo courtesy of

Children's books, especially from the Victorian era, are charming collectibles. Colorful lithographic illustrations that delighted little boys in long curls and girls in long stockings, with lots of ribbons and lace, have lost none of their appeal.

Some collectors limit themselves to one subject, others may be interested in only the illustrations. First editions are always more valuable than later issues, and condition and rarity are important factors to consider before making purchases.

Nearly any item made for adult furnishings has been reduced to child-size —furniture, dishes, sporting goods, even some tools. All are very collectible and highly sought after.

During the late seventeenth century and early eighteenth centuries, miniature china dinnerware sets were made both in China and England. They were not intended primarily as children's playthings, however, but instead were made to furnish miniature rooms and cabinets that provided a popular diversion for the adults of the period. By the nineteenth century, the emphasis had shifted and most of the small-scale dinnerware and tea sets were made for children's play.

Late in the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth century, toy-pressed glass dishes were available, many in the same pattern as full-scale dinnerware. Today, these toy dishes often bring prices in the same range as those for the grownups.

It is difficult to find complete sets of such dish sets as most were played with by children and as a result were damaged, broken or lost. It's a reality that enhances the price structure of what is available.

As always the condition and rarity determines the price. But beware of reproductions —always buy from a reputable dealer.

If you have a question concerning an antique or collectible, or know of a show or auction we should help publicize, write J & J, 4465 Lonedell Rd., St. Louis, MO 63010.

> Helpful Hints for Collectors Archive — past columns


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