If you want to get good at something, it’s a good idea to study how the experts do it. Eric Bradley is the author of Mantiques: A Manly Guide to Cool Stuff, Picker’s Pocket Guide: Signs, and the editor of the annual Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide. And, in his 2015 book, Picker’s Pocket Guide – Toys: How to Pick Antiques Like a Pro, he provides readers with a wealth of tips, tricks, and practical strategies to assemble an excellent collection of vintage toys.
Like all the Picker’s Pocket Guides, the Toys edition is a suitably sized companion for auction house trips and flea-market outings, measuring 4 x 8 inches. The book’s 208 pages are divided into 13 chapters, each dedicated to a specific collectible or aspect of toy collecting. Over 150 color photos are interspersed throughout each chapter along with prices released at recent auctions relative to the book’s July 2015 publication date. Practical “Picker’s Tips” are scattered throughout, providing guidance not only on how to find toys, but also on how to buy them intelligently and fairly.
Chapter 1, “Top Toy Collectibles by Decade,” provides an overview of some of most sought-after toys from the early 1800s through the 1990s. Chapter 2, “Recent Values” delves into pricing trends. Bradley also takes the time to spell out the five things the most valuable toys in the world have in common: authenticity, exposure, provenance, quality, and condition. Common toy grades, from Mint in Box (MIB) to Play-worn, are also defined. Chapters 3-12 focus on specific niches of collectible toys, including some of my favorites: vintage video games, action figures, LEGO sets, and space toys.
Chapter 13 sets the stage for flipping toys for a profit. Not surprisingly, online buying and selling is a focal point here, with references to eBay, other online auctions, and dedicated websites like Goodwill and Craigslist.
In the introduction to Picker’s Pocket Guide: Toys, Bradley states that, “Vintage toys radiate a certain aura, energy, if you will, that instantly conveys the zeitgeist of the era it was made.” His book reflects this belief, making it a perfect how-to guide for burgeoning to mega-collectors.
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