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Attention Star Wars Fans: You Could Own Your Very Own Jedi Lightsaber

This is not a drill. An epic collection of Star Wars toys is featured in this week’s Jasper52 sale. The Force is strong throughout this entire collection, but we’re going to highlight a few of the standouts. Perhaps you’ll have a few extra presents under your Christmas tree this year.

An authentic Anakin Skywalker Jedi Lightsaber signed by Star Wars creator and director George Lucas is a highly coveted item in the auction. The seller won the lightsaber in a 2002 contest sponsored by British grocery and general merchandise retailer Tesco, and provided documentation from Industrial Light and Magic confirming its authenticity. The lightsaber comes in a clear display case. It is estimated at $6,000-$8,000.

George Lucas-signed Anakin Skywalker Jedi Lightsaber, numbered 1 of 1. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000.

George Lucas-signed Anakin Skywalker Jedi Lightsaber, numbered 1 of 1. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000.

Imagine waking up to the voice of Princess Leia or Luke Skywalker. It is possible with a Star Wars talking alarm clock by Bradley Time. The clock, which has a $200-$300 estimate, is in mint condition in the original box.

Star Wars talking alarm clock by Bradley Time, mint in the box with instructions. Estimate: $200-$300

Star Wars talking alarm clock by Bradley Time, mint in the box with instructions. Estimate: $200-$300

Relive the Star Wars story in 112 slides with Kenner’s famous Give-A-Show projector, which was re-tooled for the Star Wars franchise. The boxed toy with the slides has a $300-$400 estimate.

Star Wars Give-A-Show Projector, Kenner, Star Wars saga in 112 color slides. Estimate: $300-$400

Star Wars Give-A-Show Projector, Kenner, Star Wars saga in 112 color slides. Estimate: $300-$400

The Star Wars Empire Strikes Back Rebel Transport Vehicle is a rare model from the series’ second installment. This toy in its original box carries a $1,300-$1,500 estimate.

Star Wars Empire Strikes Back Rebel Transport Vehicle, factory sealed in mint condition. Estimate: $1,300-$1,500

Star Wars Empire Strikes Back Rebel Transport Vehicle, factory sealed in mint condition. Estimate: $1,300-$1,500

And we know you’re not too old to play with dolls. Another rarity in this auction is a Star Wars Early Bird action figures set from 1978. Still sealed in original clear plastic bags, these figures are expected to forge their way to $40,000-$45,000.

Rare Star Wars Early Bird action figure set, 1978. Estimate: $40,000-$45,000

Rare Star Wars Early Bird action figure set, 1978. Estimate: $40,000-$45,000

Interested in all of these and more? The auction contains dozens of Star Wars boxed toys and action figures, many in the original boxes. Find your favorites here and register to bid.

5 influential American toy companies of the 19th century

In the early 1800s, most American children played with homemade toys. That started to change with the arrival of the industrial revolution and the application of American ingenuity toward playthings.

Names like Marx, Tonka, Mattel and Hasbro, which are familiar to baby boomers and subsequent generations, didn’t emerge until the 20th century. To explore the American toy industry’s beginnings, one has to go back in time to before the Civil War, when pioneering toy manufacturers staked their claim on a still-developing sector.

Here are five companies that were on the ground floor of American toy production:

Francis, Field & Francis Omnibus. Sold for $56,000. Image via LiveAuctioneers

Francis, Field & Francis Omnibus. Sold for $56,000. Image via LiveAuctioneers

Francis, Field & Francis

The first toy manufacturer of record was based in Philadelphia. Known as Francis, Field & Francis, a.k.a Philadelphia Tin Toy Manufactory, this business was in operation as early as 1838. Francis, Field & Francis produced the first manufactured American toy, a horse-drawn fire apparatus. The company claimed their japanned (lacquered) tin toys were “superior to any imported.”

George W. Brown & Co.

By the mid-19th century, New England was the hotbed of toy making. George W. Brown of Forestville, Conn., apprenticed as a clock maker before co-founding George W. Brown & Co., to manufacture toys. Brown applied his knowledge of clocks in designing the first American clockwork tin toys, including a train that the company marketed in 1856. His company also produced many animal-drawn conveyances, platform toys, wagons, fire engines, ships and trains.

The District School figurine set made by Crandall's, 1876. Sold for $2,200. Image via LiveAuctioneers.

The District School figurine set made by Crandall’s, 1876. Sold for $2,200. Image via LiveAuctioneers.

Crandall Toys

Charles M. Crandall of Montrose, Pennsylvania, whose father and brothers were also toy makers, had his greatest success manufacturing building block sets. His sets patented in 1867 featured a tongue-and-groove arrangement that held the pieces together. Crandall introduced lithographed paper-on-wood building block sets in the 1870s. It was said that by the end of the 19th century, Crandall’s building block sets were seen in almost every civilized nation.

J. & E. Stevens Co.

J. & E. Stevens Co. of Cromwell, Connecticut, is credited as the first American company to produce cast-iron toys. John & Elisha Stevens started out making hardware but switched to simple toys like sadirons, garden tools and, later, pistols. J. & E. Stevens supplied cast-iron wheels to numerous toy makers. They are best known as prolific manufacturers of cast-iron mechanical banks in the late 1800s.

Ives & Co Cutter Sleigh, 1893. Sold for $190,000. Image via LiveAuctioneers

Ives & Co Cutter Sleigh, 1893. Sold for $190,000. Image via LiveAuctioneers

Ives & Co.

Of the many toy makers to emerge after the Civil War, the undisputed leader was Ives & Co. Edward Ives joined his father, Riley, around 1860. They moved their company from New York City to Bridgeport, Connecticut, a clock-making center, to facilitate their transition to manufacturing clockwork toys. The first were No. 1 Boy on Velocipede and No. 2 Single Oarsman, which replicated a man rowing a boat. Within a few years, Ives & Co. was producing about 20 high-quality clockwork tin toys. Ives set the pace with the trend toward cast iron in the 1870s, making the first mechanical bell toys on wheels. By the 1880s, Ives, Blakeslee & Co. was exporting toys to Europe and South America. In 1890, Harry Ives joined his father, Edward, in the business and continued manufacturing popular toys and trains well into the 20th century.

To view and bid on antique American toys, head to Jasper52 to check out this weeks’ curated toy auctions.

Information sourced from The Story of American Toys by Richard O’Brien (Abbeville Press, 1990)