An antique sled is more than just a fun toy for kids; it can also be a valuable antique. Learn about old sled identification, what qualities make an antique sled worth money, and how to use these special toys in your decor. From Flexible Flyers to Paris sleds, there are many versions of this fun antique.
How to Identify an Antique Sled
At first glance, old wooden sleds may all seem the same; however, there are some important features that can dramatically affect the value of your find. Spend a little time on old sled identification before you try to assign a value. Certain brands are especially coveted by collectors, and some features can add to value as well.
- Check the antique sled for a manufacturer or brand name. Common antique sled brands include Flexible Flyer, Paris Manufacturing Company, and more.
- Examine the shape to determine if it's a push sled or a pull sled. Most antique sleds are pull sleds where a rope would let you tow the sled back up the hill after sliding down. However, some sleds have a bar on the back, allowing someone to push it like a stroller on runners.
- Look for signs that an old wooden sled might be handmade. Kids used to make their own sleds or work with parents to craft these toys. Handmade sleds will not have a brand name and may be slightly asymmetrical and less uniform than a factory-made sled.
- Examine the length of the sled. Toboggans are longer sleds, often without runners. Runner sleds came in many different lengths as well. For example, antique Flexible Flyer sled models ranged from under three feet to over five feet in length, according to sled collecting site Sled Hill.
How Much Are Antique Sleds Worth?
Assigning antique sled values requires examining the sled and assessing its condition. If you have a piece that's especially valuable, you might want to consider an antique toy appraisal. However, you can often get a sense of the value yourself. In general, old sleds can range from about $50 to over $500. There are several factors that can affect whether a sled is simply a fun and beautiful collectible or a high value investment:
- Condition - Sleds with original paint and components in good, usable condition are worth the most. This is more difficult to find than you might expect because these 19th century toys were used hard. Look for minimal rust and chipped wood.
- Special touches - Hand-painted designs can add to the value of a sled, as can sculpted runners in the shape of swans, dragons, and other creatures.
- Rarity - Certain models are especially rare, such as extra long four-seat Flexible Flyers. Rare sleds are worth more than common ones.
Antique Sleds Values by Brand and Type
Because there is so much variation in antique sled values, it's important to break them down by brand or type of sled. Here are some of the most notable.
Antique Flexible Flyer Sled Values
There were thousands of Flexible Flyer sleds produced from 1889 onwards, and they are still being made today. Because of this, they tend to be fairly low value - often around $100 each. However, certain rare antique Flexible Flyer sled models can be worth much more. For example, a very rare four-seat Flexible Flyer sled sold for nearly $1,000 on 1st Dibs. Another model, called the Yankee Clipper sled, usually sells for less than $100. One in very good condition sold for only $39 in 2020.
Paris Manufacturing Company Sled Values
Another brand of antique wooden sled, Paris Manufacturing Company examples can be almost as valuable as Flexible Flyers. You'll see everything from sleds sized for very young children to full-length toboggans. Most sell for under $100, but toboggans and sleds in very good condition tend to be worth more. For example, a six-foot Paris toboggan sold for about $350.
Value of Children's Push Sleds With Metal Runners
Children's push sleds, which look like strollers with metal runners instead of wheels, are less common on the antiques market. This can make them especially valuable. Most sell for between $100 and $200, but if you find one is beautiful condition or with special features, it could be worth more. For instance, an 1800s push sled with the original paint, hardware, and upholstery sold for $400.
Value Antique Sleds With Fancy Runners
Some wooden sleds with metal runners had an added touch: the runners were shaped like animals or mythical creatures. You can sometimes find the runners themselves for sale, usually for under $50. However, finding the whole sled intact is less common. These can be worth hundreds of dollars if they are in good condition, since the runners add a lot of charm. For example, a wooden sled with dragon-head runners and most of its original paint sold for almost $400.
Hand-Painted and Stenciled Antique Sled Values
Hand-painted or stenciled sleds can also be valuable because they are so decorative and beautiful. They come in a variety of colors and designs, and they are difficult to find in good condition. A yellow stenciled sled from the 1870s sold on eBay for almost $200.
Try Some Vintage Wooden Sled Decor Ideas
You can always use a sled for sledding, even if it's an antique. Runner sleds are just as fun today as they were a hundred years ago. However, if you want to display your antique sled in your home, there are lots of fun ways to do it. Try one of these decor ideas:
- Make an antique sled coffee table. Elevate the sled with purchased legs or use taller sleds at their original height. They are just the right size for a coffee table and make a great conversation piece.
- Use an antique sled for a vintage holiday decoration. Simply attach a wreath or evergreen swag to the sled and lean it by your front door. It's a good idea to keep it in a sheltered spot with an overhang so it doesn't get damaged by the weather.
- Mount an antique sled on your wall. They make great winter decorations over a fireplace, especially in a cabin or rustic farmhouse.
Embrace the Fun of Antique Sleds
Whether you use an antique sled as vintage wall decor or for its original purpose, these pieces have a value that goes beyond their monetary worth. Sleds are a piece of history, and using and displaying them is a great way to embrace the fun of antiques.