Our antiques expert appraises a Santa Claus wind-up toy to help determine what it's worth today.
My mother bought this holiday toy in 1937, when she was expecting me. It still winds up, moves and jingles. I have the box it came in. What can you tell me about it?
—M.L., Woodridge, Illinois
What’s It Worth?
A: Christmas novelties are popular year-round with collectors—and St. Nick is No. 1 on their lists! Children found it thrilling to wind up a mechanical toy like this one, which sent Santa’s sleigh sailing merrily in a circle.
Parents were delighted, too, to have fun, durable objects to tuck under the tree—keeping little hands away from fragile, more costly decorations. Most trinkets like this sold for 5 or 10 cents at the corner dime store.
This patented 1937 Santa Claus and sled remained in popular demand through the early ’50s. With the Great Depression behind them, American families were once again able to purchase manufactured toys and holiday items. Many were imported. Interestingly, Santa’s recognizable face helped pave the way for Japan’s growing export industry. By 1950, Japan had taken over from Germany in sales to the U.S., and was able to diversify further by making lamps, dinnerware, rugs and linens.
Condition is everything in the memorabilia world. The still-bright green paint on your metal sled, undamaged plastic figures, intact reins, working bell and original key with box all give your St. Nick toy an estimated value of $125.
—Barbara J. Eash (Country Woman Magazine’s Antiques Expert)