Toy Timeline & Collector's Reference
What bubble toys do I collect and why?
I'm most interested in toys manufactured 1850-2000. 90% of the time I'm after toys that represent evolution or innovation -- not just new versions or different looking toys. If the design was new and lead a long life, influenced other inventors or changed people's bubble play expectations I want it.
Unless the toy is important for other reasons, I do not collect battery operated bubble makers. However there are a couple of mechanical wind-up toys it might be fun to find.
1874 newspaper advertising for Bliss' Pocket Bubble Pipe
Sometimes the reason I'm looking for a toy is silly: Last year I discovered the duo team of designers (Allen and Shaw) that invented and patented Howdy Doody's marionette head for TV also invented an excellent bubble toy 1959 BUBBLIN FISH-- but they never came out with a Howdy Doody bubble pipe. So I found a Howdy Doody pipe (other inventor) to pair with Allen & Shaws original fish toy to tell a richer story.
How about toys that are just, really old or rare? Yes of course! Pre 1900 toys are difficult to find and usually hard to justify buying-given my limited resources. If a toy is unattainable - I collect all the info and details I can about it, waiting patiently for the day I see it on eBay for twenty bucks.
Most often I ask myself: Will it teach me something? By playing with or at least holding it, will I learn more about why the inventor made particular engineering choices in the design? Did they care about delivering a truly new bubble play experience or did they just want to make quick money from a good looking toy that doesn't really work? What about the inventors past experience inspired them to create this new kind of bubble toy?
I collect because it is valuable to compare the actual play value of the toy against what was written about it when it first came to market (reviews and marketing). Playing with these old toys helps me to understand the bubble-fun expectations people had back in those days. Example: when people or advertisements talked about "Big Bubbles", did they mean ping pong, grapefruit or beachball size?
Collecting is my favorite way to connect with the inventors I've learn so much about through research. Because I get to know the inventors so well, I feel more than a bit obliged to seek out their toys.
Finally: Building a bubble toy timeline without owning particular pieces for contrast and reference would be difficult.