Reissues of Classic Tin Toys by Paya

The majority of new items reissued from original molds are most often made of glass or pottery. But Paya, a Spanish toy maker, has put early 20th century molds and machinery back in production to make metal toys.

The Paya company dates back to 1902 when tinsmith Rafael Paya begin making toys. His sons Emilio, Pascual and Vincente expanded the business into the company called Hermaños Paya (hermaños means brothers in Spanish). This name is represented by the trademark monogram HP used since ca. 1906-1910(see Fig. 3). By the 1920s-30s, Paya's mechanical toys were competing with the more traditional established toy companies of Germany and France.

Like the rest of the European toy industry, Paya essentially shut down during WW II. Following the war, it struggled financially. In 1985, a decision was made to reissue the toys Paya made during the first half of the century using original tools, dies and molds. According to a present day Paya sales brochure, 2,000 different toys were made between 1906 and 1940. Currently, 50 toys are being made as reissues.

Many original Paya toys are in the $200-$2000 price range in today's antique market. One of Paya's most sought after toys, a Bugatti race car from the 1930s, has sold for over $10,000.

The new reissues are produced with the same trademarks that appeared on original pre-1940 Paya toys. This includes the HP mark (Fig. 3) and a stylized version of the word Paya in which the P forms the body of a locomotive (Fig. 4). One or both marks appear one or more times on all the reissues. Both old and new marks are in various sizes and color combinations. There is no way the marks can be used to establish age.

Old or New?

Since old dies are being used, there is no easy way for the average buyer to tell old from new. Toy buyers with years of specialized experience claim to be able to distinguish between new and old paint and minute details in how the metal is finished. But as a practical matter, this is very difficult to learn.

Fortunately Paya markets the new reissues as "limited editions" and permanently marks each piece by stamping an edition number into the metal. Unfortunately, if an unethical seller wanted to misrepresent a piece, most buyers wouldn't have a clue as to what the stamped number means. It looks like a typical model number or production code.

If you can't inspect a piece before buying–through the mail, over the Internet or bidding absentee–make sure the seller provides a written guarantee clearly stating age and authenticity of any Paya pieces.

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Fig. 1 New reissue, windup metal motorcycle. Original was first made in 1936. 11" long, height 6". New reissue price was $350; original was $1,400-$2,200.

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Fig. 2 Hermaños Paya HP trademark. On both old and new. Shown about actual size as it appears on the motorcycle shown above in Fig. 1.

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Fig. 3 Another mark; P forms engine. Used on both old and new.

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Fig. 4 The new reissues have an edition number between 1 and 5,000 stamped into the metal. The location of the number varies. All numbers are slightly more than 1/8" high.

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Fig. 5 Old construction is used throughout the new reissues. This new bellows noise maker, for example, is made of paper and wood just like ca. 1930s originals.

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Fig. 6 Metal wind up Row Boat 14" long. Reissue price $195. Original was first made in 1923.

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Fig. 7 Reissue metal wind up Trapeze Artist; originally made in 1935. New reissue price was, $60. About 7½" high.

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Fig. 8 Paya has also reissued a number of "penny" toys, small figures about 3" to 5". As shown in a company brochure.

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