New Litho Over Wood CartBy

New Litho Over Wood Cart

Some of the most colorful original Victorian toys are made of wood covered with lithographed paper. Commonly referred to by collectors as "litho over wood", this category of toys is highly prized for its bright colors and folk art appearance.

Relatively few litho over wood reproductions were available until the past few years. The most commonly seen reproductions are relatively crude sets of ABC blocks, most with nursery rhyme or fairy tale scenes. The goat cart above marks the first animal drawn floor toy reproduced in litho over wood ACRN has seen.

The new goat cart isn't going to be fooling experienced buyers but might confuse beginning toy collectors or dealers who don't handle Victorian toys. Look in most toy reference books for example, and you'll only see one side of a litho piece. Unless you've handled an original, you might not know that both sides of an animal should be covered with paper.

Looking at a photo in a reference book might also not make you aware that originals are almost always cut from solid wood. The new goat cart is made of plywood (Fig. 4). formed by gluing up several layers of veneers. Originals have nicely finished edges; the reproduction has ragged, rough edges (Fig. 3). Originals seldom have cut out separated legs. Being made of soft wood, such small details would break along the grain. Plywood is stronger and permits the legs to be separated.

All of the new litho over wood reproductions we have seen, including this goat cart, produce a strong reaction under long wave black light. Any white (uninked) areas on the new paper fluoresce bright white. This is caused by the dyes and chemicals in modern paper. Remember to test the edges of the paper, not just the front surface when you use your black light.

The paper on the goat cart was produced on a color laser printer rather than a traditional printing press. This means any one with a home computer can make convincing copies of original lithographs and paste them on a piece of wood. Also be alert for repairs made to litho over wood toys made with laser printed paper. Black light will catch virtually 100% of all modern laser printed papers.


Fig. 1 New goat cart, decorated with paper over wood. 12″ long, 6″ tall.


Fig. 2 Only one side of the reproduction is covered by paper as shown above. Both sides of original two-sided figures were covered.


Fig. 3 Reproduction shows jagged cuts and sharp angles. Originals have nicely finished edges and smoothly cut curves.


Fig. 4Reproductions are made of plywood. The multi-layers of plywood can be seen along any edge of the reproduction above. The vast majority of old paper litho over wood toys are solid wood, not plywood.