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Izannah Walker, born in Rhode Island in 1817, may have made her first dolls at a much earlier date, but it was not until 1873 that she applied for a patent on a process for making an inexpensive, easily cleaned and safe painted stockinette doll which, she believed, would be less likely to injure a child if they fell on it.

Such dolls are now much prized among collectors and my online research suggested that prices of up to $16,000-18,000 are not uncommon. I also came across an invitation to learn how to make one’s own Izannah Walker-type doll, using a pre-sculpted face mask to which is applied a cloth skin. The Walker secret of making an invisible neck joint was promised and, rather more worrying, revelations about the techniques of “aging and crackling to simulate age and wear”.

Among the other toys, the top lot – and at $3600 (£2480), something of a surprise at that – was a model of particular interest to British collectors. Described in the catalogue only as a “Kingsbury ‘Blue Bird’ racer, with black details and US and UK flags”, this 30in (51cm) long racer is, I think, a model of the car in which Sir Malcolm Campbell became the first man to exceed 300mph on land – at Bonneville Flats in Utah in 1935.

Exchange rate: £1 = $1.45