Very few new rocking horses match the carving quality of yesteryear, and those that do command equivalent prices, however new rocking horses generally have a quality blemish free finish.
Sometimes an old rocking horse has had a complete restoration, paint, tack and hair, not a blemish to be seen. It can somewhat contradict the attraction of having an old horse that is does have what might be termed "condition".
Original AntiquesRestored Antiques
As I mostly sell antiques, and would argue that they would have a better investment value long term. Few new rocking horses match the carving quality of the old masters, though the finish may be good and that's got a certain appeal to many. Old rocking horses may have a certain character, so don't necessarily expect them to be blemish free. Patination of paint, war wounds, gesso cracks may all be part of what is termed "condition".
Original or Restored?
Obviously an old horse can have a complete makeover. They were often so well made that structurally they can be as good as new. A full makeover may include re-setting the blocks making up the horses body, gessoing and repainting. New tack is common, the old would often wear with use and partial replacement rarely looks right.
Likewise a natural horsehair mane and tail is almost a consumable - a life expectancy of perhaps 10 to 20 years for hair. A new mane and tail often do much to revive an old horse without necessarily affecting it's character too much.
Most people fit somewhere inbetween wanting old or new, wanting to see some "character" or a blemish free restoration. Whatever you want, Sally's Rocking Horses will most likely have something to suit, or can find it. (Not all of our stock gets on this website.)
Swing Stand or a Bow Rocker?
The traditional bow started to be replaced by the "Marqua" stand about 1880. Bows can be classically pleasing, but can be a more challanging ride, can tip over, move over the floor damaging the surface and take up a little more space. Most people nowadays buy a Marqua stand, though the choice is inevitably a personal one.
The bigger the horse, the more it is likely to cost. A collector with limited space may prefer small nursery type bows and other smaller rocking horses. Someone with a large house may want a large rocking horse as a statement in a suitable room.
Generally if children are considered, anything over 37" high should be more than adequate - it will be a good size for a seven year old, they tend not to actually ride as much after this age. It will still suffice up to eleven or twelve years, after which most children have moved on.
A very large horse may even be a little daunting to smaller children.
There were numerous rocking horse makers from the Victorian period into the interwar years. Ayres and Lines stand out to most people, being volume manufacturers but of high quality. There are numberous others, some at least as good.
Browse my stable pages, I do include information on some of these old makers, also try my collection of books, most sadly out of print
A 40" high Ayres or similar will be about £2,000.
A 48" high Ayres or similar say £3,000 to £3,500.
A 52" will be £4,000 to £4,500 and something about 55" high £5,000 to £6,000.
Add £300 - £500 for "extra carving".
A few really collectable horses, such as Ayres D types, swivel heads or spring stands will go even higher.
A good vintage rocking horse such as a Collinsons will come in a little cheaper.
A 38" Collinsons will be about £1,250
A 47" Collinsons about £1,800
A 52" Collinsons £2,250, with a 55" Collinsons at about £2,750.
(All these prices vary by condition and quality of restoration.)
Contemporary rocking horses are much more variable. Well known quality makes such as Stevensons in good condition will be about 2/3 of their current retail prices.
Less well known brands, are considerably cheaper, prices being reflected in condition, quality of carving and overall construction.
I usually have between 50 and 70 rocking horses in stock. If you are looking for an old rocking horse, this is the site to browse. Do get in touch if you can't find what you are after here, a lot of my stock doesn't get on the website, with new stock often selling before it even gets listed.