Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Do You Collect? Part Three Or Whatever Part It Is.... The Fascination Of Spinning Tops

First of all, I thought it best to tell you that you should never attempt to collect anything without the power of knowledge about what it is that you want to collect. Do your homework or you might just end up with a totally worthless collection that you have foolishly invested money in.

I thought that today I'd show you another of my collections. This is my spinning tops collection and I love it. Occasionally, when I'm exceedingly bored (which is almost never) I drag out my basket of spinning tops. My favorite thing to do is to try and get them ALL going at once, which is often quite a feat. Most of the time I can't do it, but just occasionally when I get them each going on the first spin, I can claim victory.

Spinning tops have been a favorite childhood toy in just about every culture on the face of the Earth, being found as far back as 2000 B.C. (although extremely rare to see these days, much less find). And Lord knows I'm still a child at heart. What makes tops interesting to so many is that they behave in ways that our minds tell us they shouldn't, thus defying imagination as well as gravity.

Spinning tops are so intriguing to watch as they dance around surfaces, weaving their way about until they eventually fall on their sides for lack of momentum or hit something, go boom and fall down. It's not difficult to believe that they were once a source of great entertainment. In my opinion, tops remain as enchanting today as they have since their introduction. Okay, fine. I can sit and stare at a roaring fire forever too. I'm simple minded like that.

To make it easier in understanding the wide world of spinning tops, they are generally broken into four categories which are finger tops, supported tops, peg tops and whip tops. The categories are based on how you cause the top to spin. Your method of launch is really what determines the length of time your top spins, but there are many other factors as well, such as torque, momentum, inertia and the nimbleness of your fingers.

A couple of my tops are still in their original packages for selling collecting purposes. The original packaging of an item always increases its value in the world of collectibles. You need to know this if you collect anything relatively new, and it's especially important to know if you collect anything antique. At any rate, many of my tops came in kids' meals from the various fast food chains (that my kids had no interest in), some I had slipped into the kids' stockings at Christmas (which they also had no interest in), while others were party favors for the kids, or given to me as presents. It doesn't matter, really. I love each and every one of them. In my mind's eye, they are each wonderful in their own unique way. Obviously, I'm not too picky.

I have two (spindle) tops that are shaped like little mushrooms called flip over tops (or *topsy-turvy* tops) which, when spun at just the right speed, will flip over to spin on their peg shaped spindle. In other words, they dance around until they flip and then look like tiny dancing mushrooms. I kid you not. They are adorable if and when you can actually get them to spin, because they are not easy to get started into a spin. It actually takes a fair amount of dexterity, which seems to be eluding me these days. (Could this be why it's so difficult for old farts like me? Nah! Well, maybe.)

One top (actually I bought two... just in case), called the Snake & Top (a somewhat *supported* style top) walks up and down alongside the thin little metal snake with the help of a magnetic spindle at the base of the top. Although it isn't as easy as most to get spinning, it really works it once it begins to spin. Another fascination entirely.

Next, I present to you the creme de la creme of tops. The King Kong of all spinning tops. The toughest mother that ever was made in the world of tops. The elusive American Hardwood Throwing Top. (a whip top) This and one other similar one, have stumped me from day one. I'm thinking maybe you need to be a very young boy to pull this one off, but then again, I might be wrong. I think these two are the reason I still occasionally pull out the bowl that houses my tops. It's like I'm being driven to make those two suckers spin sometime before I die.

I also have two delicate little tops that are from Germany and they will spin like crazy with just the right launch (finger spinners). Often times they are the last ones left spinning when all the others have finally come to rest, clearly at the end of their spins. I always like to have little contests to see who can spin the longest. By now you're probably thinking "Oh yeah. She's gone". Perhaps I am, but I've always simply been fascinated with spinning tops. I mean, I can't even stand on one foot without falling immediately over, much less spin like a ballerina. So sure. It definitely grabs my attention.

There is one called the Space Ball Flashing Top that runs the gamut of 32 different effect lights during its spin, that took me a while to figure out because it was made in China, written in English by Chinese workers. Seriously, if they hadn't added a picture to the back of the package I might never have figured it out. But, once you get this dull little guy going, he will rock your world with his light show. I try to not use it much in case there is some kind of battery I might have to replace at some point. I'm pretty sure I bought this one at a place on Galveston Island, the first year our friends had a house there, so it will be a while before this baby is worth more than retail price, but it does have the original packaging. Besides, it's *tres cool* and it mesmerizes me. It's actually more of a friction spinner, which is relatively new to the world of spinning tops.

Oh and let's not forget the ones that have battery free visual effects from their designs, when spun (also finger spinners). I think maybe you could hypnotize someone with these if you needed to. I sure stare at them as if I were in a trance when watching them spin. Two others I have might not immediately appear to be tops but by all rights, they spin on a tiny spindle on the base, so they are technically tops and they will often spin over a minute and a half. That's like a record among my collection of tops, so I guess that makes them the head honchos of the collection.

The absolute smallest top I have was handmade in India, which measures one inch in diameter and one inch in height, from the tip of the bottom spindle to the tip of the top spindle and I adore it. It is very tiny and delicate, yet it has survived this household for the last 20 years. That's no small fete. The prettiest top I have is actually an Easter holiday top that is basically a chicken trapped inside a disc that spins low to the surface and it's really cute even though it won't spin for very long.

And, last but not least, we have the *felt tip* tops (also finger spinners) that when spun, make marks on paper as if they were little tornadoes twisting their images onto the paper. They have little covers on the tips to keep them from drying out but it probably won't last much longer as they are over ten years old.

So, there you have it! Another of my *Ho-Hum* collections. However, my intention was that I might be able to teach you something about the whimsical world of spinning toys, and I sincerely hope that I have. Humans have been and continue to be fascinated by the mystery of tops that spin, often defying gravity, since 2000 B.C. In The Eliad, Homer describes a character who "reels like a top staggering to its last turnings". That  undoubtedly speaks something to me.

I've seen many antique tin and wooden tops but after reaching my highest bid, I was unable to bring myself to bid what it would have taken to acquire them. Luckily, I'm a patient woman. Ultimately, I hope to have brought you closer to a knowledge you didn't previously have about spinning tops. Yes, I'm generous like that. Sometimes.   ;-)

9 comments:

Tracey said...

I wish I had some to send you! I collect everything except for tops....And, everything I collect, collects dust. I have more toys than our kids too. I can't seem to get rid of anything they want to. I have a collection of stuffed M&M guys and girls. I have Spot and Zowie from the Rolie Polie Olie show. I hope to have a Rolie someday.
Anyway, I put a dent in my dust collection today until my Dyson quit working. I had a pencil, pen and a bunch of stuff blocking the airflow and it's better now.
Hugs!!
Green-Eyed Momster

Flea said...

What a COOL thing to collect! I love tops, but haven't had one in years. What fun!

I couldn't tell you what I collect. Dust, I think.

Staci said...

That is just too cool! I've never seen a collection of tops before (and I wish I'd thought of that!)

I collect birds. For now at least, I have a tendency to start new collections. A lot.

Janie at Sounding Forth said...

Me either! What a cool collection!!!

Snooty Primadona said...

Hey everybody... my showings might get worse with 10 days left of NaBloPoMo. As much as I like my tops collection, it's really pretty lame. BUT, thanks for commenting. I love you guys!!!!

Daryl said...

I collect hearts .. and I see you need a dreidel for your collection...

imom said...

I love that collection, especially the wooden ones and the two topsy turvy's! So fun!

Mariah said...

You collect spin tops?? I KNEW there was a reason I instantly liked you!

Snooty Primadona said...

Yes and I'm the only one in my family that thinks it's cool, lol.

 

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