Collecting toy soldiers - are they worth the battle?

Paul, I've got a small collection of toy soldiers and antique military models that were recently left to me by a relative. I'd like to sell if there was to be a decent profit, though am happy to hold on to them as a keepsake. Any advice? - Michael, Sheffield

Collecting toy soldiers
Those starting a collection will join the likes of Malcolm Forbes and Winston Churchill

Toy soldiers are actually a huge collecting area, as well as a great hobby, so if you are reluctant to sell, maybe you should consider taking on the collection as your own and adding to it. There are several magazines in the field and tonnes of internet resources, so you certainly won't be left in the dark.

If you decide to go down this route, look towards establishing a specialised set, such as female soldiers, Vikings, Boer war figures or Nazis. These are the most unusual, and often command four figure sums at auction due to their rarity.

Depending on what the collection contains, there is certainly a tidy sum to be made in selling these miniature militias. In fact, some of the world's leading figures collect toy soldiers and have made a substantial gain in selling them.

Perhaps the most famous collector was Winston Churchill, who was a prolific collector of British military models in his childhood. Media mogul Malcolm Forbes amassed a substantial collection of 60,000 soldiers, which was sold for ?�500,000 ($793,100) by Christie's in 1997.

The most expensive single toy soldier ever sold was also seen at Christie's - a rare prototype William Britain marching guard from 1934 that brought ?�3,100 ($4,917) in 1994.  

Look out for the name William Britain when examining the collection, as toys manufactured by the company are some of the most valuable around. Britain was the man who first developed a technique for making lighter hollow lead figures and therefore his became one of the most successful toy companies in England.

However, with toys made before 1966, please refrain from putting them in your mouth, as it wasn't until this time that it was discovered the lead used in many child's toys was poisonous.

A specialised appraiser will be able to tell you the worth of what you have. And don't forget to consult your reference guides - this initial investment may save you from making bad decisions in the future.

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