Grading Standards


The following standards are used by the dealers participating in the Toy Shop section of All About Old Toys.

The grading of antique toys is inherently subjective. Fair people will disagree. We do not accept a grading condition "considering its age". This greatly complicates toy grading. Excellent condition means the same for a 10 year old toy and a 100 year old toy. 

The grade generally applies to the condition of the surface material of the toy (paint and clothing). It is acceptable to describe a toy with missing parts as: "missing head, otherwise near mint". This tells a reader that although the toy is not complete, what remains is near mint.

A dealer may elect to incompletely describe the condition of a toy on the Web site - perhaps not pointing out restorations or small damaged areas. The dealer is obliged, however, to fully describe any such problems a toy may have upon request - so ask.

we try to follow the following definitions:

Mint - Without flaws of any kind. Pieces in this condition are extremely rare even for those commonly found. may have developed a very pleasing patina due to slight oxidation of the surface. A manufacturing defect does not downgrade the toy but should be described. Old toys almost never meet this standard.

Excellent - Displayable in even the best quality collections. Minor flaws in paint and costume. Rarely does one find Humpty Dumpty circus pieces better.

Very Good - Some paint loss or costume flaws. Still a nice display piece. Suitable for all but the fussiest collectors. Rare pieces are very acceptable in this condition.

Good or Fair - Quite displayable but has considerable paint or costume damage.

Poor - Barely acceptable condition for circus displays.

Rough - Too poor to restore. Suitable for repainting to look like an original or for fantasy circuses. 

Plus + and minus - signs may be used to indicate that the toy is a bit better or worse than the standard for the grade.

Wooden toys often employed rubber cords or springs inside their arms, legs and heads to facilitate articulation of these joints. These components are often broken, or have lost their elasticity. To make toy more displayable, these components are often replaced. This repair is not visible and does not affect the toys grade if expertly executed.

Originality of the toy is extremely important. A totally repainted toy cannot be graded higher than poor no matter how impressive the restoration. A totally restored toy should be identified as such. Minor restorations should be identified.

There are those who insist that, to reach a mint grade, the toy must have its original box. We disagree since determining the original existence of a box is nearly impossible in most cases. Sometimes toys were shipped in individual boxes while at other times the same toy might be shipped in large crates with many other toys. It depended on how the toy was to be marketed.

However, if a toy has its original box, the box's grade does not affect the toy's grade. You can have a near mint toy with its original, but poor box. Having its original box does increase, sometimes dramatically, the toy's value. Old toy boxes are very rare and desirable.

See grading examples below. Click on thumbnails to enlarge.

ClownElephant.jpg (275887 bytes) RedClownFace.jpg (192779 bytes) GibbsWagon2.jpg (280982 bytes) HustlerAero.jpg (199286 bytes) HustlerAeroFace.jpg (178887 bytes) HykerClown.jpg (216275 bytes) HykerClownFace.jpg (178499 bytes)
Elephant grades VG-EX, clown EX, elephant's paint is somewhat dull in places EX clown-this` toy is rarely seen in any better grade. Gibbs wagon grades EX -  Litho on horses are excellent and undamaged Hustler AeroPlane grades VG - play wear Hustler AeroPlane clown head shows wear-face features not sharp - rare piece Hyker Clown pull toy grades good - missing springs, rust on metal Clown's head shows paint degradation. Still displayable in original condition.
Dscn0022.jpg (431876 bytes) ClownHoboLateFull600.jpg (176289 bytes)          
Hustler Twins pull toy grades NM - tiny paint spots keep it from mint grade.


Schoenhut Hobo in mint condition. Flawless condition.