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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.


Quick Facts

  • 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

Recommended Items at Auction

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EVINRUDE & JOHNSON OUTBOARD MOTORS
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
EVINRUDE & JOHNSON OUTBOARD MOTORS
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1605 Bids
PAIR OF TIN SUBMARINES
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
PAIR OF TIN SUBMARINES
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
SS TEXACO NORTH DAKOTA OIL TANKER SHIP TOY
Mar 18, 6:00 PM CDT
SS TEXACO NORTH DAKOTA OIL TANKER SHIP TOY
by Millers Auction Co.
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
IDEAL SPEEDBOAT & AQUAPLANE RIDER w/ BOX
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
IDEAL SPEEDBOAT & AQUAPLANE RIDER w/ BOX
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
(19th/20th c) CARVED & PAINTED WOODEN BOAT HULL
Feb 25, 12:00 PM EST
(19th/20th c) CARVED & PAINTED WOODEN BOAT HULL
by John McInnis Auctioneers
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
A RARE 'STEAM BOAT WILLIE' FAIRGROUND RIDE BOAT, CIRCA 1930
Mar 05, 10:30 AM GMT
A RARE 'STEAM BOAT WILLIE' FAIRGROUND RIDE BOAT, CIRCA 1930
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £3,000- £5,000
£3,0000 Bids
Group of 2 Cast Iron Steamship Toys
Feb 24, 9:00 AM CST
Group of 2 Cast Iron Steamship Toys
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$150 Bids
JAPAN TIN BATTERY OP ZOOM BOAT w/ BOX
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
JAPAN TIN BATTERY OP ZOOM BOAT w/ BOX
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
LARGE PAINTED WOOD & TIN HALF HULL S/S SHIP 'PETREL' CIRCA 1900
Feb 24, 11:00 AM EST
LARGE PAINTED WOOD & TIN HALF HULL S/S SHIP 'PETREL' CIRCA 1900
by Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
Est: $700- $900
$3500 Bids
IDEAL HARBOR LAINCH BOAT & EVINRUDE MOTOR w/BOXES
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
IDEAL HARBOR LAINCH BOAT & EVINRUDE MOTOR w/BOXES
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
FLEET LINE BATTERY OP SEA WOLF BOAT w/ BOX
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
FLEET LINE BATTERY OP SEA WOLF BOAT w/ BOX
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
FLEET LINE BATTERY OP SEA BABE BOAT w/ BOX
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
FLEET LINE BATTERY OP SEA BABE BOAT w/ BOX
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
Old City of New York Wheeled Ferry Steamboat Toy
Mar 10, 10:00 AM EST
Old City of New York Wheeled Ferry Steamboat Toy
by World Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
Antique Bing Key Wind Pontoon Boat
Mar 28, 11:00 AM EDT
Antique Bing Key Wind Pontoon Boat
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $50- $100
$100 Bids
Gamma Ray Remote Control Boat
Mar 03, 9:00 AM MST
Gamma Ray Remote Control Boat
by Davis Brothers Auction
Est: $50- $75
$100 Bids
Vintage Tin Litho toy boat
Mar 04, 6:00 PM AEDT
Vintage Tin Litho toy boat
by Eureka Coins, Notes and Collectables pty
Est: AUD0- AUD0
AUD50 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Toy Boats & Ships


Milestone Auctions

Milestone Auctions

Bodnar's Auction Sales

Bodnar's Auction Sales

John McInnis Auctioneers

John McInnis Auctioneers

Thomaston Place Auction Galleries

Thomaston Place Auction Galleries