New Haven, IN, United States
DoneMon, Jul 12, 2004 10:30 PM UTC
Vintage Toy Cannons, Tanks and Soldiers
Vintage Toy Cannons, Tanks and Soldiers This collection is from the F.W. James Estate. This is a brief history of F.W. James: Francis W. James had many claims to fame. Besides being a World War II vet who was one of the first soldiers to land on Omaha Beach on D-day (and fight all the way to Berlin), he had a distinguished 25 year career as a police officer in Winnetka Illinois. He also excelled as a carpenter of merit and the craftsmanship of his woodworking projects was exemplary. But perhaps he will be remembered most for his love of collecting and creating lead soldiers, a love that began when he was only 6 years old. He often told the story of how he and his grandpa were walking in downtown Chicago when they stopped in front of a hobby shop window where toy soldiers were being displayed. His grandfather wanted to move along but he pleaded to stay just a bit longer to take in the panorama of soldiers in all their regalia, marching in and out of castles. When they finally decided that it was getting late and they had to move on, a great explosion was heard. A building down the street was shattered by a tremendous gas explosion. All of the windows were blown out with great force. His grandpa looked at him and told him that if they had not stopped to take a longer look at the soldier display, they would likely have been caught in the blast. For the rest of his life, Bill felt that toy soldiers saved his life. Toy soldiers became the passion of his life as he started collecting them at the age of six and did not stop collecting them until his death 2 years ago at the age of 85. The precision and detail that he put into his woodworking projects also exemplify the way he approached creating lead soldiers. He molded them himself and his collection of toy soldier molds was extensive. Because he was color blind, he relied on scores of reference books to indicate the exact colors of the soldiers' uniforms. His eyesight was truly remarkable (sharper than 20/20)and facilitated the details that he was able to put into each soldier. He had several brushes with only one "hair" in the head and he used these to precisely depict eyelashes on the faces of the soldiers he was paintig. His attention to detail was meticulous. In his lifetime, he created over 3,000 artifacts. In addition, his collection of factory made lead soldiers (inc. Britain's, etc) is extensive. His home became a museum showcase for collectable toy soldiers, cannons, and other battle-related items. The collection extends over a period of approximately 80 years and represents a wide variety of European and American toy soldier manufacturers. The family of F.W. James and Ken Frecker Auctioneers are pleased to now offer this entire collection of personally created and manufactured lead soldiers, figurines and other military-related items for collectors of all ages.