Japanese Marionette Theatre, ca. 1935

Value (2004) | $1,500 Auction

I acquired it from my mother, who died in '93, and I didn't know she had it until we were cleaning out her house. And she got it from a lady whose house she inherited after taking care of this lady. And I thought it was great and I've kept it and I've really enjoyed it.

Well, whoever had this toy from the very beginning and up until now certainly didn't play with it too much. It's extraordinary condition. This is a Japanese toy, and Japanese toys basically break down into three categories: what we call prewar-- which is pre-World War II-- and then postwar, which breaks down to occupied Japan and non-occupied Japan. Some of the rarest toys are, of course, the prewar toys, and they're very collected and very desirable, and this is a prewar toy. Say, how do I know? Well, it says "made in Japan,"so it's certainly not occupied Japan. And then we just look at the general graphics of the box. And this kind of amazingly ornate graphic down here is very typical of prewar Japanese toys. What's extraordinary about this toy is the condition. This is celluloid, which is very susceptible to melting and cracking and breaking. Plus you have paper, which is susceptible to staining. And then it still has the netting here that acts as a hinge for the canopy.


Just amazing. And, of course, with all toys what you're really looking for is the action. And this one has a lot of action. So it has action, color, original box, age. It's really phenomenal. I mean, you just don't find this toy in this kind of condition. Now, I guess you'd want to know what it's worth. Well, originally it was worth about 49 cents. That was probably in the late '30s. This toy, I think, in today's market, would easily bring $1,500 at auction.

Wow. Really? Well, thank you. That's wonderful.

It's a real gem, and I just love it.

I do, too.

Appraisal Details

Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd.
Carversville, PA
Appraised value (2004)
$1,500 Auction
Omaha, NE (July 10, 2004)

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