Loading Spinner

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

See all items

Wonderful Custom Made HMS Bounty Ship Wooden Model, 30" Long by 24"H, EC
Dec 04, 1:00 PM EST
Wonderful Custom Made HMS Bounty Ship Wooden Model, 30" Long by 24"H, EC
by Homestead Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$352 Bids
Marklin Steamship Viktoria 16150
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
Marklin Steamship Viktoria 16150
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $800- $1,200
$4001 Bid
FRENCH BATTERY-OPERATED TIN JOUET GIL PT BOAT.
Nov 30, 9:00 AM EST
FRENCH BATTERY-OPERATED TIN JOUET GIL PT BOAT.
by Morphy Auctions
Est: $400- $800
$2000 Bids
VERY UNUSUAL GERMAN KELLERMAN WOODEN CLOCKWORK LAUNCHING BOAT.
Nov 30, 9:00 AM EST
VERY UNUSUAL GERMAN KELLERMAN WOODEN CLOCKWORK LAUNCHING BOAT.
by Morphy Auctions
Est: $600- $900
$3000 Bids
EARLY GERMAN CARETTE CLOCKWORK OCEANLINER.
Nov 30, 9:00 AM EST
EARLY GERMAN CARETTE CLOCKWORK OCEANLINER.
by Morphy Auctions
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$7500 Bids
EARLY HAND PAINTED EUROPEAN SAND BARGE TOY BOAT.
Nov 30, 9:00 AM EST
EARLY HAND PAINTED EUROPEAN SAND BARGE TOY BOAT.
by Morphy Auctions
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
WILKINS CAST IRON CITY OF NEW YORK PADDLE WHEELER BOAT.
Nov 30, 9:00 AM EST
WILKINS CAST IRON CITY OF NEW YORK PADDLE WHEELER BOAT.
by Morphy Auctions
Est: $400- $800
$2000 Bids
1980'S TOMY LENSMAN GALACTIC PATROL SHIP.
Dec 02, 9:00 AM EST
1980'S TOMY LENSMAN GALACTIC PATROL SHIP.
by Morphy Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Finely crafted single rowing scull model
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
Finely crafted single rowing scull model
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$5000 Bids
Lionel - Craft Boat with outboard
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
Lionel - Craft Boat with outboard
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Bliss paper lithograph over wood Alarm battleship
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
Bliss paper lithograph over wood Alarm battleship
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
Converse embossed lithograph tin Texas battleship
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
Converse embossed lithograph tin Texas battleship
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
Orkin painted tin clockwork Cabin cruiser boat
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
Orkin painted tin clockwork Cabin cruiser boat
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $1,000- $1,200
$5000 Bids
GERMAN HALLOWEEN SPRING-HEADED PEACH IN BANANA BOAT CANDY CONTAINER.
Dec 02, 9:00 AM EST
GERMAN HALLOWEEN SPRING-HEADED PEACH IN BANANA BOAT CANDY CONTAINER.
by Morphy Auctions
Est: $1,500- $3,000
$7500 Bids
Wooden Riva Aquarama Model Speed Boat 14"
Dec 02, 6:00 PM EST
Wooden Riva Aquarama Model Speed Boat 14"
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $350- $550
$1200 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Toy Boats & Ships


Morphy Auctions

Morphy Auctions

Pook & Pook, Inc.

Pook & Pook, Inc.

Homestead Auctions

Homestead Auctions

Weatherham Estate Treasures

Weatherham Estate Treasures