Good References for Collecting Cast Iron Cars and Trucks

by DAKOTApaul on May 26, 2013 · 5 comments

Having “good references” is a very small part of being a knowledgable collector. Most collectors are not willing to spend the money for the references necessary to constitute a complete cast iron toy reference library. But it is essential to become a knowledgeable collector. Here are a few good references:

1. The Gottschalk book, which was the FIRST fairly complete book about cast iron automotive toys, although it has some toys misidentified.

2. The jobber catalogs from the manufacturers are also excellent sources of information, and fairly inexpensive xerox copies of them are available.

3. Catalogs from the major auction houses are a great source of information, however, some of them are more interested in selling the toys than they are in providing correct identification, so beware.

4. Bob Saylor’s book on Kenton toys, the most comprehensive listing that has ever been done for Kenton. A little hard to navigate, but chock full of useful information.

5. Arcade Toys – Al Aune – a great reference on Arcade cast iron toys. The best out there. However, these books are getting hard to find, and the last one I saw went for a lot of dollars.

6. Antique Cast Iron Automotive Toys by: Yellin & Outwater – a good book with a lot of pictures

7. The Golden Age of Automotive Toys – 1925-1941, Ken Hutchison, Greg Johnson – has a nice section on cast iron cars and trucks.

8. And there are internet sources:

a. This website; click on previously sold toys. Lots of pictures and descriptions. And check out each of the categories listed to the right.

b. Current and past auctions records on the ‘net. Julia has a searchable archive, as does Live Auctioneers. And of course, eBay completed listings.

6. There are lots of other “minor” references; one example is the two volumes done by Ernie Long, with line drawings taken from the original manufacturers catalogs.

But having said all that, the best way to become well informed about automotive cast iron toys is to actually SEE them, and HANDLE them, and pay attention to HOW THEY ARE CONSTRUCTED. There is a lot that can be learned from carefully examining a toy:

1. Learn how different manufacturers used different peens on the ends of the wheel axles (Hubley and AC Williams used a flat squashed end on some of their other toys, then switched to other methods later. The Dent peen was with a hammer that gave a “meat tenderizer” look.

2. Learn how the toys are put together, AC Williams and Arcade used shift lock tabs on the inside of the body halves to align them; Hubley and Dent did not. Most manufacturers riveted the body halves together, however, seeing a toy screwed together does not necessarily mean that it is not authentic; AC Williams used flat head screws on a few of their early toys. Other than that, most toys that are screwed together are recent reproductions.

3. Learn how toys are signed: Hubley put their name in raised letters on many toys, but just as many are without a signature. Arcade put their name in ALL of their toys, except for three that were made in 1932. Dent NEVER signed a toy, but the casting numbers inside the toys matched the number listed in their catalogs. Likewise, AC Williams did not sign their toys. Etc, etc, etc.

4. This is just a sampling of things to look for. There is a lot to learn and if a new collector is not willing to do that then, buyer beware!

OK, so how does one find toys to examine first hand? Shows are one place, auction previews are another, but the BEST answer is to find a fellow collector who is willing to share his knowledge. Most collectors are more than willing to help someone who is just getting started.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

WARREN WICKS November 22, 2013 at 10:20 am

HELLO: When you go too an expert you get EXPERT advice. I will definitely be on the look-out for the books and information that you provided. I have been getting for the past two years ANTIQUE TOY WORLD, nice magazine but I was hoping they would have more articles on the learning and value of my favoret, CAST IRON of course. From a new collector and older guy, THANKS—————————–WCWJ——————————-

DAKOTApaul November 22, 2013 at 10:33 am

Thanks Warren, I am glad I could be of help. Paul

DAKOTApaul January 14, 2014 at 9:32 am

Hi, Grey Iron is a manufacturer and yes, their items have good value. What specific toys are you referring to? Thanks for reading the article. Paul

Robert dimitri September 7, 2014 at 9:43 am

I received the Lionel 224 thank you- your description was rt on thanks, Bob

DAKOTApaul September 7, 2014 at 10:00 am

Thanks so much for the nice note Bob. Glad you enjoy. Paul

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