post by Blair Young
As we prepare for auction tomorrow, Heather asked me to post some reminder signs about the lead toys we will be selling. Quite a few old toys are made of lead or contain lead paint. By today’s standards, these “toys” are not intended to be played with by children, and instead are considered collectibles. This sparked my curiosity, so I turned to my friend, Google, for some answers about lead.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, “lead is still a health problem. Lead is everywhere, including dirt, dust, new toys, and old house paint. Unfortunately, you cannot see, taste, or smell lead.” Lead can be found in many different items such as: toys & furniture painted before 1976, houses painted before 1978, painted toys & decorations made outside the US, some modern faucets, the list goes on.
Here’s the thing…
Lead has been used since ancient times; the Romans used it in one form to sweeten wine! Even back then doctors were aware that it was poisonous. So why keep using it? Perhaps, because, lead is soft, malleable and easy to work with. It also has a high resistance to corrosion.
I, also, discovered that some toys (similar to those we are selling Saturday) were part of a popular activity in the 1930s. Children were given kits that had all the materials needed to make their own toy soldiers or animals; just by heating up lead and pouring it into molds…right at the kitchen table!
Click photo for more about toy mold kits
Actually, lead toy molds are still available today, but sold only to serious toy soldier enthusiasts.
It seems crazy to us in 2016 that parents would allow their kids to stand at the kitchen table and work with molten lead. But times change, perspectives change, toy materials change. Who knows, maybe 80 years from now something we give our children, without batting an eye, will be proven toxic. In all that, our enthusiasm for toys never wanes.
Nevertheless, we know lead to be a hazard; so it brings us back to our warning for tomorrow. Remember: Toys are sold as collectibles and not intended for children. Some toys may contain lead content that exceeds congressional-set limits. These toys should be purchased as collectibles only and not for children under 12.