Doll and Baby Buggies
Some reproduction buggies are copies of vintage originals but others are "fantasies" and have no known old counterparts. All the new products are hand made and commonly show tool marks. Many of the items are unknowingly offered as old by even experienced dealers. The pieces can be found at almost every show, mall and flea market.
New doll and baby buggies and carriages are shipped from the factory with rusted metal parts and a distressed finish. The consistent, common link among most of the new buggies is a distinctive type of wood and iron spoke wheel This new wheel was never used in old pieces and is a telltale sign of a new piece.
You should also keep in mind that toys or items meant to carry children must be logically constructed for that purpose. In other words, a buggy meant for a human child must be safe: no rough or sharp pieces of metal, freely moving wheels and strong enough to support the weight of the child. Wheels must be strong, well built and designed for daily use.
Fig. 1 This new doll buggy is loosely based on old originals like the one shown in Fig. 3. This new piece has a painted wood frame, leather hood, tufted leather interior and wood wheels with metal spokes; about 27x30" overall. Wholesale price was about $100 plus freight. This piece and others like it, can be detected by their distinctive wheels (Fig. 2).
Fig. 2 This is an illustration of the wheel used on nearly all of the reproductions. A. wood hub, B. iron spoke, C. wood rim, D. iron band. This particular combination of metal spokes, wood hub and wood rim was never used in old wheels.
Fig. 3 This original buggy is made of painted wood, a canvas hood and iron hardware; about 30x30" overall. The all wood wheels are correct for a doll sized toy (Fig. 4. We couldn't find any doll sized buggy in any of the toy catalogs that had a leather top such as found on the reproductions.
Fig. 4 An original wood wheel used in the 19th century buggy shown above and typical of wood wheels used on 19th century toys. Original small indoor toys of the 19th and early 20th century had no need of the heavy iron spokes and iron bands used on the reproduction wheels.
Figs. 5-6 Nearly all the reproduction wheels use a wooden hub in one of these two basic shapes (Fig. 5-A & B). Remembering these will help you identify most of the reproductions with wheels. New wheels are commonly fastened to the axle with cotter pins and washers (Fig. 6-C). Vintage wheels are typically fastened by "peening" or flaring the end of the steel axle, not cotter pins.
Fig. 7 Typical wooden hub, above left. Close up of outer edge of new wheel, above right: A) iron band, B) "antique" painted finish, C) thick painted undercoating for "antique" finish, D) wood rim.
Fig. 8 Doll stroller in wicker, with new wheels. About 24x24", also available in other sizes; wholesale price $55-$85 depending on size.
Fig. 9 Note the ragged holes where the spokes pass through the wood rim (arrows). The spokes are pushed through the already painted rims from the outside which tears jagged holes in the paint. This crude work is never found on old originals. This type of wheel is designed for fast production by unskilled labor.
Fig. 10 New hand made doll buggy made in Asia. New wheels with iron spokes passing through wooden rims as shown in Fig. 9.
Fig. 11 New buggies with turned spindle and wicker sides. New wood and iron wheels. Sizes from 35 inches tall to 11 inches tall.
Fig. 12 Buggy Wheels: The original doll buggy, left, is from a 1914 toy catalog. The original child-sized buggy, second from left, is from a 1907 catalog. These early 20th century originals have steel spokes and metal rims (closeup, right). Wheels for child sized buggies came with an optional rubber tire on the metal rim. The only early 20th century play buggies that may not have all metal spokes and metal wheels would be very small play buggies.
Fig. 13 New wicker stroller, 24 inches tall.
Fig. 14 Typical old all metal wheel. Metal hub (A), metal spoke (B), and metal rim (C). Rubber tires may be mounted on the metal rim.
Fig. 15 The only original toys with iron banded wooden wheels are rugged outdoor toys which would get heavy use like big wagons and carts like this one. Wheels on small indoor original Victorian toys did not need the strength of iron bands. The illustration at right shows a typical old wheel with iron band. Wood hub (A), Wood spokes (B), Wood rim (C), Iron band (D).