Retro Dee writes about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s on this site. Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every Wednesday.
Hi I’m Retro Dee and Welcome to another edition of Collecting 1950’s!
Today we showcase a simple, classic toy, which to this day remains a decent source of entertainment: The Yo-yo!
Yo-yos have been around forever, possibly since BC. They first became popular in the United States in the late 1920s, so they were certainly not new in the 1950’s. However, as a fad, their popularity began to rise drastically in the 1950’s and by the early 1960’s, they were everywhere.
I myself do not collect yo-yos, but I have a very special relative who is turning 80 years old this month who does, indeed, have a yo-yo collection. My relative collects many things, including full-size working jukeboxes and other nostalgic items from the 1950’s.
This relative and I have had several conversations about collecting, and she’s said that no matter what art and antiques she acquires, nostalgic items from her youth in the 1950’s are some of the most treasured pieces in her whole collection.
Yo-yos are known for the tricks you can make them do. These tricks include: “Sleeping”, “Walk the Dog”, “Around the World” and “Rock the Baby”.
In the 50’s and 60’s, yo-yo competitions were popular and young people enjoyed participating and showing off their skills. It was also the age in which different types of yo-yos became available, depending on your skill level. You could choose a beginner’s yo-yo, or something more advanced, if you were so inclined!
Collectible yo-yos on today’s market from the era include Roy Rogers yo-yos, yo-yos by Fli-back, Flores and the “Flying Disks”. In particular, designs such as swirls, the white stripe and the jeweled (rhinestone embedded) remain sought-after on the collector’s market. And, of course, The Original 1955 Duncan yo-yos are always popular with collectors. As with all collectibles, condition is everything, so the better shape the yo-yo in question is, the higher the price it will fetch at auction.
Promotional pieces such as yo-yos advertising certain companies of yesteryear are always popular collectibles as well. Such yo-yos were typically made of tin or plastic, cheaper materials than the yo-yos used for tournaments.
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In the 1950s, there was a group of us classmates that held yo-yo competitions every day at recess. Duncan was the preferred yo-yo, and you were colossal stuff if you owned a colored plastic model or a butterfly. I’m 70 and can still do “walk the dog.”