Rockin’ Old Horses

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For over 3,000 years, kids have been riding rocking horses. Though the sale and demand for toy rocking horses has declined due to the shifts in children’s interests, there are plenty of enthusiasts around the world who value rocking horses – contemporary and antique. Along with being a safe investment, rocking horses provide a link to the past.

Antique Rocking Horses

Antique rocking horses can be found in the U.K., Europe, the U.S. and Australia. Collectors value different things about the horses. Some collectors seek out the quirky and unusual, opting for minimal restoration of the piece. Other collectors look for a solid form that can be fully restored and used by their own children. Both types of collectors agree on the importance of a few qualities when examining a rocking horse:

  • Identification
  • If the horse can be identified as having been made by a well-known rocking horse maker, the value increases. Some important names in the world of rocking horses include: F.H. Fyres, Lines/Triang and the Collinson family.
  • Bow
  • The familiar, gently-curved wood on the bottom of many rocking horses is called a bow. Antique collectors seek sturdy, flaw-free bows.
  • Swing Stand
  • The more modern, swing stand base of antique rocking horses is also sought after both for its design and its functionality.
  • Size
  • Size is a factor for collectors. Those with large spaces can make a statement with a giant horse, some nearly 1.5 meters tall! Collectors with more modest spaces might stick to toy-sized rocking horses or horses designed for very young children.
  • Head and Face
  • The horse’s head shape and facial expression are key in investors’ buying decisions whether they plan to restore the rocking horse or not. The most valuable horses have an elegant, lifelike quality.

Before you start your collection there are additional considerations. Are you looking to acquire a holiday decoration? Make a design statement? Make an interesting investment? These are all solid reasons to begin a collection. While not rare, antique rocking horses are not abundant, nor are they cheap. Deal with a reputable restoration artist/dealer when considering a purchase.

Do your tastes run more to the modern? Seek out a rare Trevor Wiffen rocking horse from the 1970/80‘s or a 1950‘s American rocking horse manufactured to feed a generation’s love of all-things-cowboy.

If you are looking to make a child-friendly statement in your home or, if you want children to actively play on the horse, an antique horse, even a “modern antique” might not be the right choice. For one thing, they’re old! The paint may not be child-safe. Other flaws that come with age might be exaggerated by rough play. If this is your situation, consider one of the modern artists making rocking horses for today and the future. These handcrafted, modern horses are a safe, beautiful addition to your family.

Dainty or funky, restored or proudly original, antique or new, starting a rocking horse collection will provide you and your family with a nostalgic connection to the past and a link to future generations. Happy Trails!

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