Toys have fascinated many children and adults for a long, long time. That fascination probably goes back to the time when human beings first appeared on the face of the earth.

Toys have been made of almost any available material in each culture. Wood, cloth, metal, clay, glass, even cornhusks have been and still are among the materials used for making toys.

The value of almost anything, including toys, is in the eye of the beholder. Many also realize there are essentially two basic types of values. One type of value is the dollar value. The rarity, size, manufacturer, condition, current demand and eye appeal can all significantly influence the current monetary value of a specific toy.

Another type of value is the true sentimental value of a toy, which varies from person to person and cannot be accurately measured by any amount of dollars. Once the emotional value kicks in with some individuals, reason and logic can fly right out the window. This is especially true if there are two emotionally charged individuals at that sale with deep pockets who want the same item. The selling price of a toy or other antique or collectible under those conditions can go right up in the clouds.

A very simple rag doll made by the "loving" hands of a mother or grandmother can be loved so much by a child that no other doll on earth could ever equal its value or replace it. On the other hand, there are diehard collectors who would almost give anything for certain rare and expensive porcelain dolls that have many fine features and have uncommon, original clothing.

Through the years, many have asked me whether antiques and collectibles, including toys, should be left in the original condition in which they were found. The first thing I mention is to ask what they intend to do with the item. If they intend to eventually sell the item in a collector's market, then I almost always encourage them to leave it as it is. If their intent is to keep the item for themselves the rest of their life, and they really want to change the appearance of the item, then I remind them the item belongs to them and they can do with it as they please.

We might mention a couple of types of toys that have had the loving attention of many children for the last hundred years or so and now have attracted the watchful, and sometimes yearning eye, of serious collectors. Both of these types of toys are in the cast-iron category. One is children's toy banks and the other consists of transportation toys such as cars, trucks, airplanes, etc.

Certain ones are worth a few dollars, and some in each of those areas are selling for thousands of dollars. If you are not sure of the dollar value of some cast-iron or other toy that you have, ask a person who has sufficient market knowledge and is someone you consider to be trustworthy.

Marvin Mann, Plainville, is an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers. Send questions to him in care of The Hays Daily News, P.O. Box 857, Hays KS 67601.