Marbles, for generations, have been a popular collectors item. Collectors look for marbles displaying complex patterns, the more complex and colourful, the more valuable. Symmetrical
patterns and size also add a premium. Sulphides, which are clear marbles with a figural insert, are amongst the most popular Probably the most desirable marbles are handmade, mostly German, from circa 1850 until World War One. They were made from brightly coloured glass rods that created swirling patterns of colour. The different patterned marbles created are known by different names including swirls, onionskins and corkscrews.

The telltale sign of a handmade marble is the slightly rough area called a pontil mark. This is the mark left when the marble is removed from the glass rod. It is important to distinguish these from
the machine made examples coming from America after World War Two.

Machine made marbles are still very popular today, partly due to the scarcity and expense of handmade examples but also because of childhood nostalgia; many of today’s collectors played with these American marbles when they were young.

Manufacturers to look out for include Akro Agate Company, M. F. Christensen & Son and the Peltier Glass Company, but the exact value of individual marbles can vary enormously. Collectors
are also beginning to take an interest in the innovative marble makers of today, especially as the Internet auction market booms.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Distler Tinplate Toys

The German company, Distler is best known for producing small and affordable tinplate toys. Established c.1895 in Nuremberg by Johann Distler, it first produced Penny Toys. Penny Toys were tiny toys measuring no longer than five inches, made very cheaply from pressed tin. They were extremely popular around the turn of the century and their success allowed companies like Distler to expand into larger tinplate toys.

In the 1920s and 30s, Distler greatly expanded both in terms of workforce and products, making some excellent cars and beginning to expand into clockwork mechanisms. Tinplate toys with moving parts are particularly popular with collectors and Distler made some very good battery operated examples. The 1956 “Elektro Matic 7500 FS” Porsche is probably their finest with an ignition key, forward and reverse gears and remote control with spiral wire. The Porsche is now highly sought after with examples in rare colours and mint-boxed conditions attracting the most interest.

In 1928, Mickey Mouse made his first appearance on our screens and his success was a huge boost to companies like Distler, who were one of the first manufacturers to get a license to produce Disney toys. Many early Disney toys were actually designed from memory, after seeing the films, so do contain some inconsistencies from the original characters. Disney toys are a huge collecting
field in their own right and toys complete with boxes confirming that they were made with permission of Walt Disney, like the Distler toys, hold higher values and appeal.

By the 1960s, Distler could no longer keep up with competition from the more inexpensive toys and production stopped in 1962.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website


Merrythought have been producing soft toys since 1930. The company was established in Ironbridge, Shropshire by Gordon Holmes after he decided to expand on his previous experience in the milling and weaving of mohair yarn; the perfect teddy bear material.

Early pre-war Merrythought toys are identifiable by the celluloid button in their eye (a marking technique modelled on the Steiff example) and also an embroidered label on their feet. From the very beginning, Merrythought produced an impressive catalogue of domestic and wild animals as well as their teddy bears.

Production was interrupted during the war years as the Merrythought factory was taken over by the military and used for map-making and many of the staff worked on producing helmet linings, sleeve badges, gas mask bags and other such textile items for the armed forces.

Post-war saw production resumed initially on a small scale due to a shortage of supplies. Later came the introduction of the printed label, still placed on the feet, and in 1957, the infamous ‘Cheeky’ bear. The ‘Cheeky’ bears are very popular with collectors today and the early examples are the favourites. They are very distinctive bears with domed heads and large flat ears having bells sewn into them which are positioned lower down the side of the head. They are still made today.

It is interesting to note that the company’s emblem of a wishbone is actually the definition of the word ‘Merrythought’ and definitely brought the company good luck as they have been very successful throughout the years and are still very much in production today as the last remaining British teddy bear manufacturer.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website