Every collector dreams about making a great "attic find": discovering a wonderful antique preserved in an attic, packed away and forgotten for decades. Finding such an item can feel like finding buried treasure, and not just because of the piece's monetary value. Particularly with old toys, it can be a warmly rewarding experience to "rescue" a forgotten item from a dim and dusty attic existence. (If you've seen the final Toy Story film, you'll know what a terrible fate attic banishment is for a toy.)
Every so often a news story will feature such a find, like a rare Steiff teddy bear or a valuable painting by a famous artist, discovered by a young couple in the eaves of their newly-purchased fixer-upper. As enthralling as these stories are, such finds are rarer than one might suppose.
I've only had two attic finds so far in my two decades of collecting. Both were low in monetary value, but rich with history and play wear. My favorite is shown below: two late 1940s/early 1950s lead western figures, just 2 3/4 inches tall, made by the Barclay Company.
This dime store duo have endured much play, and were clearly loved by their original owner. Somehow, though, they got left behind when he grew up...the two were discovered under a cracked floorboard in the attic of an abandoned farmhouse. As I hold them now, I wonder: where did they come from? how did they end up under the attic floorboards? who first played with these? what happened to him? does he wonder today where his little cowboy and Indian are? Just a week after we rescued them, the abandoned house was torn down. It was a narrow escape for these two classic American toys.