Antiques & Collectibles
Antiques & Collectibles
Q & A
By Anita Gold
Q: Can you provide me with any information regarding antique or old toy grocery stores, and tell me where I can find possibly find one for my wife in time for Christmas?
Charles Gordon, Virginia Beach, VA
A: Some of the most charming toys made in the past, were little toy grocery stores with shelves stocked with miniature boxes, cans, and cartons of foodstuffs just like those sold in actual grocery stores today. Such toy stores were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and sold for a pittance back then. Today, however they can ring up high prices depending on their condition and completeness.
The earliest examples were made of wood, wood and pasteboard, heavy cardboard, and wood and glass. Later models were made of lithographed tin or steel, or from a combination of tin and cardboard.
One early example, measuring 19 1/2 by 12 by 2 1/2-inches, was made of wood and pasteboard, and has a pair of pasteboard doors which opened to reveal a row of eight wooden fully-stocked shelves. A paper label on the back is imprinted "Miniature Corner Store , Arlington Heights, Mass., Patent pending." Such stores are highly desirable, and sometimes can be found among family possessions in New England attics. Some of the food packages belonging to the toy store are imprinted with the name of a product such as Slade’s Pure Mace, Sawyer’s Crystal Bluing, Upton’s Liquid Fish Glue, or a food such as gingersnaps, corn starch, ice cream, and many other foods on cartons and cans, all of which were made of wood covered with paper labels stating what food or product was represented, and the letters MCS (for Miniature Corner Store) which identifies such pieces. In the early 1890s, Parker Brothers produced The Amusing Game of Corner Grocery that came with 40 illustrated grocery cards marked with prices, and more than 100 pieces representing money to play the game. Parker Brothers also produced numerous Toy Town Grocery Stores in various sizes - the smallest being the Little Toy Town Grocery store consisting of a little store with shelves, counter, and goods that was assembled by putting he box on its end and filling it with grocery packages. It was introduced in 1911 and sold for 25 cents. Other more elaborate and expensive Parker Brothers stores were filled with packages on shelves, and had counters, scales, cash registers, toy money, sacks of flour, jugs, coffee grinders, safes, and real glass show windows with a removable forest green sign at the top imprinted "Toy Town Grocery Store. They came in five sizes that sold for 50 cents, $1, $2, $3, and $5 depending on their size and contents; the largest measuring 24 1/2 inches by 11 1/4, by 16-inches, had glass windows, and came equipped with a bucket, tub, and molasses jug.
A fabulous selection of four miniature grocery stores including a sought after tin Libby’s example stocked with tin cans of Libby products in great condition with all its pieces intact, and other magnificent sought-after playthings from the past will be auctioned Saturday Nov. 8, and Sunday Nov. 9, 2003 at Noel Barrett’s Fall Antique Auction in Lambertville, NJ To order a full color catalog (which pictures and describes awesom antique toys, The Lehner Christmas Collection, and hard to find antique toys, animated clocks, toy trains, boats, cars, animals, military toys, and countless other "greatiques", write Noel Barrett Auctions, P.O. Box 300, 6183, Car- versville Road, Carversville, PA 18913; enclose $40 for the catalog or phone 215-297-5109 for auction information. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Or visit Wesite: www.noelbarrett.com Noel Barrett can also be seen on the popular Antiques Roadshow on PBS.
Write Anita Gold, P.O. Box 597401, Chicago, IL 60659. Enclose a self- addressed stamped envelope with a copy of this column and the name of the paper in which it appears for a reply.