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Toy Boats & Ships
The history of toy boats dates back to ancient Egypt around 3,000 B.C. Through the extensive use of real boats on the Nile, Euphrates, and Tigris rivers came the early making of model toy boats. Though children are known to have played with toy boats in the rivers of Mesopotamia and Egypt, some of the earlier known models carried the spirits of pharaohs. Actual seafaring boats were discovered alongside pyramids located in Giza, but inside, the spirit boats carried the ruling elite on to the next stage of life.
In modern times, wooden sailboats or pond boats were a Victorian-era norm for young boys and girls. The size of the boat often dictated the wealth of the family. As steam-powered toy boats became the new rage, elaborate ships were hand built along the waters of many modernized and industrialized countries worldwide.
In 1891, a Frenchman invented what would become a major fad in toy boats: the pop-pop boat. These little wonders were powered using a candle or vegetable oil. Though considered a working steam engine by some, they had no moving parts. The pop-pop boat’s popularity lasted into the ‘70s and became somewhat popular once again in the ‘90s.
A Marklin Chicago paddle wheeler boat sold at Bertoia’s Auctions in November 2012 for $264,500
Prisoners captured at sea often created highly detailed model ships from whale or animal bone while in confinement for long periods of time. In an April 2013 Bonham’s auction, a 50-gun POW whale-bone model ship sold for $43,890
Ship modeling and ship toys in the United States experienced a boom in the later part of the ‘20s when “Popular Science” magazine published a series of articles and plans to build famous ships that existed throughout history