Carving is a traditional occupation in many countries and it is not surprising that expert woodworkers from abroad have seen an opportunity in making something like a valuable traditional rocking horse. The same thing has happened with the wonderful American and European carousel horses. Carvings are being exported from places like Thailand, The Philippines and Indonesia in huge numbers. Labour being cheaper in these countries ensures that the cost of the finished item is far less than that of an old English or American antique even after the transport has been accounted for.
The majority of these products are correctly described as modern or reproduction and the country of origin will be shown. However there is a concerted effort by some manufacturers to make and sell fake antiques. The reason for discussing them is to help buyers recognize what they are purchasing and pay an appropriate price. I am continually asked by people from all over the world to value these items and it is so sad to have to tell them that their rocking horse is not a valuable old English rocker but a modern reproduction. Even the biggest auction houses often catalogue such horses incorrectly.
They have been imported to the UK packed into containers since the 1980s and they are also found worldwide - Australia, Europe, North America etc.
These horses come in every size and shape - on swing stands, bows, wheeled platforms with and without bows, slab sided rockers with pictures on the sides ( in too good conditon to be old usually ), chair rockers with horse heads, tricycle or velocipede horses and with carousel mountings. Many are lovely objects, the horses have fetching expressions and the carving can be really beautiful. They should be enjoyed for what they are, not as an antique with investment value ( in the immediate future anyway). There is no uniformly accepted definition of the term 'antique' but things over 100 years would qualify for most people. The term vintage is widely used; this often means that the owner thinks the item is not new.
Note: The new Tri-ang labelled horses appearing around 2008 are not to be confused with the old Lines Bros / Tri-ang horses. They seem to be imported but I don't have full details.
Don't forget that many people who have a fake for sale genuinely think that it is the real thing. They have been misled at some stage and will be horrified to realize their mistake. Be tactful when you come across such cases.
Fakes are deliberately and often very cunningly aged so do not be deceived by a scruffy appearance . Some fakes are very easy to spot and I hope the following pictures will give a few clues of what to look for. All the pictures are from horses described as antique. None are.