Chad Valley Toys
Chad Valley is the name of a British brand of toys.
Chad Valley is a UK-based range of toys which now can be purchased only through retail chain, Argos. The company was originally started in 1860 in Harbourne, England by brothers Joseph and Alfred Johnson although initially it was a stationery business operated under the name Messrs. Johnson Bros which also produced cardboard games and toys.
It wasn't until 1897 that the brand name Chad Valley became used and trademarked. 1915 saw the release of the first joined Chad Valley teddy bear and a year later a machine was patented which produced soft toy stuffing. Other notable events in the brand's history include being given a British Royal Warrant of Appointment when, from 1938 to 1953 all toys produced carried the label 'Toymakers to her Majesty the Queen'.
The brand reached the height of it's popularity in 1960 when it employed over 1,000 workers and seven factories. By the 1970s popularity had dwindled and the recession had hit hard; six of the seven factories were shut down.
In 1978 the brand was taken over by Palitoy and in 1988, by retail chain Woolworths until the December of 2008 when Woolworths was forced to begin the closure of all of it's stores due to insolvency. The Chad Valley brand and trademarks were then purchased by the Home Retail Group and toys became available in their stores and home shopping catalogues.
Value and auction sales
Whilst the Chad Valley bears are less valuable than brands Steiff and Farnell the demand for them is increasing – the value is dependant on the bear's overall condition and whether a label is still in place. The older bears can be found at auction from £125 upwards with sales of £1500 documented.
As well as bears Chad Valley produced old die-cast cars, puzzles and a wide range of infant and children toys. At Hartleys Auctioneers, in 2008 auction sales for Chad Valley toys included two tin globes, one at 11” and one at 8” which sold for £10; and three tin-plate money banks (designed to look like children's story books) which sold at £65.
Popularity with collectors
The Chad Valley bear and diecast toys seem to be Chad Valley's legacy to the toy market. In particular demand are the earlier bears with their mohair covers and original glass eyes. Specialists in antique bears Bourton Bears sell their 18” 1950s Chad Valley bear at £179 and their 22” bear from the same decade for £99. They are also selling an original condition toy terrier from pre-1953 for £125.
The diecast model toys were produced in the years between 1932 and 1955 with toys produced in the last few years of production most in demand. The vehicles were all produced with license plates; the last four numbers of which pertained to the year they were produced. A 1949 Petrol tanker is it's original packaging is valued at $200.
Vintage Chad valley puzzles and games are also popular with collectors, especially games which were based on popular radio and television shows of the time and thus had smaller print runs. Boardgames based of BBC radio series The Archers and television programme Hancock's Half Hour retail at around the £100 mark.