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How To Find Vintage Toys, Old Toys Or Collectibles

Updated on August 3, 2017
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1964 mini Tonka.1980s Buddy L public safety set.Scrabble-inspired Sentence Cube Game.This version of from the 1950s, but earlier version sell for about $50.Cool tracing toy from late 60s -- early 70s.
1964 mini Tonka.
1964 mini Tonka. | Source
1980s Buddy L public safety set.
1980s Buddy L public safety set. | Source
Scrabble-inspired Sentence Cube Game.
Scrabble-inspired Sentence Cube Game. | Source
This version of from the 1950s, but earlier version sell for about $50.
This version of from the 1950s, but earlier version sell for about $50. | Source
Cool tracing toy from late 60s -- early 70s.
Cool tracing toy from late 60s -- early 70s. | Source

Vintage Toy Tanker Truck Restoration

This video shows the steps taken to restore a vintage tanker truck from fairly rough condition -- to looking better than new.

If you are an avid collector of vintage toys part of the thrill of collecting is the find. While online auctions and online stores the process has been simplified in some ways, if you are into ‘picking’ here are a few more places to consider.

  1. Your family. Ask around, maybe you have a distant aunt or cousin who wants to de-clutter their house. Ask them to let you go through it before they place it on the curb or in a donation bin. Better yet, make an offer on the entire lot and pick through it at home, to see what treasures you have uncovered.
  2. Garage Sales. This may seem to be a no-brainer, but ‘garage-saling’ has become both a huge hobby and for some, a way to sell their collectibles at retail rates. Usually the best day to garage sale is on the day it opens – you may get lucky, though, if you drive by the evening before and see if the owners are out (don’t develop a reputation as a garage sale stalker though). Ask if you can peruse, you may be surprised at how many say yes. If that doesn’t work, make sure you are there as close to opening time as possible.
  3. City-wide garage sales. This is a great way to make a day of picking and collecting. Pair up with someone who has different interests, but can help you look for the things you are trying to obtain. Keep a cell phone handy so you can do the same for them.
  4. Thrift Stores. The quality and quantity of content in thrift stores can vary widely. The crowds can vary widely as well. Get to know a handful of stores by collecting their sales brochures and visiting them on different days of the week. Once you get a feel for when new merchandise is stocked, you can increase your odds of being one of the first to view the items.
  5. Flea Markets. These have long been a source for collectors. But buyers beware; make sure you know what you are buying and how much it is worth. Most vendors are straightforward and honest, but there are a few who try to exploit a buyer’s ignorance. Just don’t be that buyer.
  6. Closeouts. Some stores are known for buying large quantities of closeout items. Get on their email list so you can be notified when there is a new shipment of stock. Remember, though, even closeout prices can still be high if the demand for the product is strong enough.
  7. After-Christmas Sales. Actually after any major shopping holiday, go through the clearance section of stores that carry collectibles you are interested in. It is not uncommon for items to be reduced anywhere from 40-80%. Usually the longer you wait, the larger the discount will be, but there may be very few items to choose from.
  8. Auctions. You probably already know about online auctions like eBay, but widen the net and you will discover there are several other reputable online auction sites. Besides online sites, many local auctioneers place their content online. Some simply place photos so you can see the contents before you arrive at the auction, but some offer online bidding as well. A great source for physical auctions is AuctionZip. Oftentimes there is an advantage by going to the physical, instead of the virtual auction. Sometimes, you will discover that not everything at the physical auction was listed online –so you discover a deal you would not have known about by simply going online.
  9. Collector Clubs. Chances are whatever you collect is collected by other people. Seek out local and national collector groups to share information – or to possibly trade, buy and sell with.
  10. Pawn Shops. Yes, you can find great deals here, if you know what you are looking for. The advantage you have as a collector is you are knowledgeable in the things you collect. Pawn shop owner usually do not have the time to be extremely knowledgeable about all the things that come into their stores. The more of a niche collector you are, the better your odds are.
  11. Trade Shows. Get on as many collector-related email lists you can so you can be informed of upcoming trade shows. Trade shows can be a great source for one-of-a-kind items that are not necessarily available to the general public.

Small towns

Small Towns. I have made several great finds inside small town stores. These usually fall under one or two types of stores. The first is a small store owned by someone who has an interest in all things old. The owners will have varying degrees of knowledge, but many will rely on eBay pricing to determine what they think something is worth. Their location, though, benefits the buyer because often the store owner wants to move merchandise and not deal with online auctions. When that is the case, you can usually barter with them to get a better price.

The second type of store is retail and even national chain stores. For example, I have been to a Ben Franklin's store -- which are hard to find anymore -- and some of the merchandise is what I would call new old items. These are items that were manufactured years ago, but never purchased -- so they are usually in mint condition.

Vintage 1970s Tonka front-end loader found in local thrift store.
Vintage 1970s Tonka front-end loader found in local thrift store.

Email Alerts

One of the simplest ways to stay in the know on vintage toys for sale is through Google searches. Do a search for the vintage toy -- or toys -- you are interested in and set up an email alert. You can set the delivery rate to once a week or once a day. Then set back and let Google do the work for you and all you have to do in scan over the email when it is delivered to see of there are any deals of interest.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Can ANYONE PLEEEEEASE HELP ME FIND A PENN PLAX "CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON" AQUARIUM ORNAMMENT THAT IS STILL IN HIS BOX & NEVER USED BEFORE THAT IS DECENT SHAPE 9same goes for his box) even if the clear plastic front piece has cracks or holes in it or even if this piece is missing as long as the box and the ornament are very nice as I am prepared to pay a VERY FARE PRICE for one of them!!!


    • cardelean profile image


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Although I am not a vintage toy collector, this would be a great guide for someone who is or is just beginning this hobby. Congrats on your nomination and welcome to Hubpages!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks for this tips. This should help someone who is looking for ideas on where to find vintage toys.

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. To all who would like to read and vote, join the Hubnuggets team and their adventures right here:


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