How Old Does My.Dog Have To Be To Be Fixed Identifying an Antique Rocking Horse

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Identifying an Antique Rocking Horse

An antique rocking horse is a beautiful thing. They carry images of a time when children were content with innocent play, before the days of squealing and exploding toys and video games. A real antique horse can be worth thousands of dollars, but how old are they and how can you tell the real from the fake?

In the US, toy horses were made as early as the 17th century by fathers in their workshops as gifts for their children. These were usually simple toys, and swinging mechanisms came later. In Europe, bow horses have been made since about 1750, and rocking horses on a rocking stand have been made since about 1880. The dates are similar for the US.

An antique rocking horse from Europe is very different from one from America. American ones are often called the antique horses of folk art. The designs are simple and the manes and tails are usually made of horse hair. If there are saddles and bridles left, they will be leather. Some were painted and others polished or left natural.

European horses, especially British ones, mostly date from about 1870-1920. Again, manes and tails were made of hair and the coat was leather, often fixed with brass clasps. They were usually painted. They often don’t have a maker’s name, but some do, and the three biggest makers are Collinsons (1836-1993), FH Ayres (19th century and early 20th century) and Tri-Ang Lines, who also make rockers with leather.

So how do you know the horse you’re looking at is an antique rocking horse? First, it will look old! But be careful! Old ones can be faked. You have to know where to look. First look at the delicate parts of the horse – the ears, the lower part of the face, around the eyes and legs. The most important thing is to look at the seat. An antique rocking horse should show signs of wear, not only in the paint, but also in worn wood where the saddle has rubbed. Also, the reins may have rubbed around the neck.

Second, the tack. With an antique rocking horse, this is almost always leather. A carved and painted saddle is unusual for a true rocking horse. Make sure the leather is worn. Again, look especially at the seat of the seat. A European one will probably have brass studs to fix it, but that’s not always the case. Nails and other metal parts can be artificially rusted, so be careful.

Third, the mane and tail of an antique rocking horse were almost always made of real horse or cow hair. If you find one with a carved mane, it’s probably newer than you thought.

There are some very excellent companies that make reproduction horses and they are not to be confused with a fake antique horse. If you do your research, look at some pictures online, and buy from a reputable dealer, you should have no problem and enjoy your antique horse.

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