Toy soldiers from the Luisi collection

As a child, Paulo Luisi, a businesman from Trieste, liked playing with toy soldiers, as all boys do. At the time, the most commonly available were those made from modelling clay or papier-mâché; at the end of the fifties, soldiers made from rubber and plastic began to join the ranks of his toy armies in battles.

What had begun as just a game, however, gradually became a quest that took him to junk shops, antique shops, private collectors, and auctions around the world in search of new specimens for his growing collection, which was to become one of the most important and diverse historical collections of Italian toy soldiers.

The collection, which consists of about 15,000 pieces, includes French tin soldiers from the late 19th century, lead soldiers from a variety of epochs between the late 19th century and 1960s produced by European brands (CBG, Heyde, Noris, Wollner, Britains, Antonini, etc.), German and Italian soldiers made from modelling clay from the early 20th century until the 1960s (Lineol, Elastolin, Chialù, Xiloplasto, etc.) and the splendid Sonnenberg-Giroux soldiers dating back to the time of the Crimean war. A wide selection of toy soldiers representing the armies of the First World War is displayed here, including those from various military marching bands.