The Joy of Bakelite Crib Toys

In recent years, quirky little Bakelite crib toys have become desirable collectors' items. Priced from around US$30 average price is around $100 for one of these sweet little toys. But I have seen them for as much as $500 or $600.

What makes them so desirable? Apart from being unbelievably cute, most of them are made in Catalin which was a new form of Bakelite brought in around 1929 with a beautiful range of new colours. They are even worn as jewelry now.  Why not make one into a unique pendant or brooch, like Jan Carlin does (find out about her below)

Gone were the old-fashioned silver and ivory teething rattles of the Victorian age. Children now had brightly coloured plastic crib toys which were safe and indestructible. The condition of many of them today attests to that. Even the strong cotton cords are intact on most of them!

Bakelite crib toyA beautiful example with a celluloid chain. Photo by LuckyLadyArtAntiques

One of the most popular manufacturers was Tykie Toys of Piqua, Ohio, who were in business until at least the late 1940s. Their designs included a range of little doll characters as well as the traditional little teething rings, spoons and bath toys. Some of their little characters are now among the most collected.

Their names include “Settie Lou”, “Eddie Egg”, “Baby Bunnie”, “Katie Kitten”, “Peepo the Clown”, “Bobby Bear”, “Sweater Boy”, and the nowadays politically incorrect “Baby Cannibal” who was a black coloured little man with big eyes and a huge smile!  Imagine a toy being called that today!  There’d be an outcry.

Other characters that were made include bell boys, sailors, soldiers as well as black American or African inspired toys. There was a huge fascination for anything exotic, and for people from far away, and the craze for jazz meant that black musicians were extremely popular at the time. In those days people didn’t see anything wrong with having black dolls, golliwogs or black crib toys.

Such is the popularity of Bakelite crib toys that modern ones are now being made out of Catalin poker chips, buttons, bits of old jewellery, beads and even some Lucite parts. They are very creative and fun!

Bakelite Crib Toy Brooches by Jan Carlin

New York designer Jan Carlin makes amazing Bakelite jewelry out of old pieces.  She has made many quirky brooches in the style of crib toys.  There is one for sale at my Decolish store. 

Jan Carlin Crib Toy
Jan Carlin Crib Toy Brooch with Wooden Face
Jan Carlin Crib Toy Brooch with Dice

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