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“Welcome to Our World of Toys”

The nation’s oldest operating toy store, FAO Schwarz, is turning 150 years old this year. To commemorate this milestone, the company has assembled a collection of more than 20 iconic toys spanning the decades that customers can view at its Fifth Avenue store in New York until April 10.

The toys date to the early years of the 20th century and include a Richard Stieff Teddy Bear. Also on display are the original Barbie and Ken dolls, a prototype of the Etch A Sketch, and seven of the original Hot Wheels cars. Many of the items come from the archives of the toy manufacturers that made them, and some are in their original packaging.

There also are a few glimpses into the history of FAO Schwarz itself. The company’s iconic FAO Schwarz Clock Tower, pictured here, adorned the store from 1986 to 2004, and has returned to mark the occasion, singing out the theme song, “Welcome to Our World of Toys” every five minutes.

A sales ledger from 1909 and a number of the company’s early catalogs are also on display. FAO Schwarz was one of the first retailers to use a mail-order catalog to market its products. It began the practice in 1876, 14 years after its founding during the Civil War.

Please click ahead to see a sample of the historic toys in the collection as well as get a glimpse of a few scenes from around the store.

By Christina Cheddar Berk
Posted 22 February 2012

Photo by Jennifer Ramcke for CNBC.com