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World War I Toys

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This World War I (WWI) group of toys was played with by the Ames boys in Northampton, Massachusetts, in the 1930s. The plane is marked "AIR FORD" on the top of its wings and stamped "10" and "1754" on the bottom. The blimp is stamped with "ZEP" and a star on both sides. The toy sailor is probably WWI US Navy. Toy soldiers and other toys have been collected for centuries. First made from wood, stone, clay and metal for the rich and royal, it was not until the end of the 18th century that they were first produced in numbers. By the turn of the 20th century, several companies in Europe were producing inexpensive lead toy soldiers, which attracted both children and adults alike. American makers began producing toy army figures around World War I (WWI). Several makers molded their figures in cast iron or used a sawdust and glue mixture called "composition." After WWII, amid concerns about lead poisoning, some manufacturers looked to plastic as a cheaper and more healthy medium.


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