Antique Toys and Children’s Furniture

By Karen Parr-Moody


The nostalgia surrounding antique toys and children’s furniture endures. But not only do such collectibles offer warm and fuzzy feelings, they offer unique style, as well.


Take the chic Mid-Century Modern child’s table in the photo, right. It sits in the home of some of GasLamp’s most stylish dealers, husband-and-wife duo Rusti and Todd Greene (they got it at GasLamp, naturally). Their 4-year-old son Wills uses it to work on his art projects. In the booths at GasLamp, many such treasured items of furniture can be found, along with charming vintage toys.


Take, for example, the cast iron circus wagon in the photo, below left ($65; Booth T-307). This would make a wonderful addition to a child's nursery that is decorated in a circus or carnival theme. Embossed on the wagon are the words “Overland Circus,” which are then painted in gold. Such embossing is one of those early 20th century details that iron casting made more accurate than did sheet steel, which was used in earlier tin toys. This wagon was made in the 1950s by Kenton Toys and, if you look closely, you will spy a white polar bear inside. 


I have a wonderful friend, Stan Williams, who is a New York City lifestyle expert and author of the book The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures. He thinks that a child’s room should be a place for inspiration and suggests that parents place in it “decorative items … that spark imagination and encourage storytelling.”


I love that notion. In my case, here is a bit of storytelling for my daughter: I played piano, as did her grandmother and great-grandmother. We currently have my great-grandmother’s 100-year-old piano in our living room, but I also want to put a miniature grand piano or upright in Stella’s room. The one in the photo, right, would be a great choice ($98; Booth B-370). It is a 25-key model made by Schoenhut Piano Company, the oldest and best-known manufacturer of toy pianos in the world. It been in business since 1872. The stool, which is decorated with a vintage orchid print, would be a more feminine option than the standard bench ($19.95).


At GasLamp and GasLamp Too there are so many fun items of wall décor for children – and this “Little World Shop” sign, photo left, is one of the cutest I have seen ($165; Booth T-195). I love that it features one of the Queen’s Guards that march around Buckingham Palace in London in their tall, bearskin hats. But I also love that this particular guard looks a bit more humorous than his serious brethren.  


Last, but not least, check out this three-story, Victorian dollhouse in the photo at right ($150; Booth 303). Any little girl would feel phenomenally lucky if she had this beauty in her room. It includes details such as cedar shake shingles, fish-scale shingles and a classic front porch. I want it myself!


Here’s a bit of trivia: The first dollhouses were actually made for adults. The earliest European dollhouse on record was commissioned by Albrecht V, Duke of Bavaria, around 1558 for his daughter – but when it was finished, he kept it for himself! This four-story masterpiece – which included a larder, wine cellar, ballroom and chapel – created a trend among aristocrats that lasted for 300 years. Such extravagant adult playthings were dubbed “baby houses” or “cabinet houses” and were used as a means to display the owner’s good taste. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that dollhouses actually came into the hands of children.


For shoppers seeking a bit of whimsy, GasLamp Antiques and Decorating Mall is sprinkled with antique children’s décor and vintage toys that are a dreamer's delight. And since Christmas is just a few months away, why not to put a few items on your shopping list for that darling child in your life?








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