Toys and Toy Makers That Made Toy History

By Robert Reed
   Toys have come and gone over the decades just as have the children that once delighted with. However some toys, both famous and not so famous, remain a delightful and enduring part of history.
   They may have been as memorable as Arcade’s fleet of 20th century toy vehicles or as obscure as Britain’s moving picture toy Zeotrope of the 19th century. They could have been as flashy as the Buck Rogers pistol made by Daisy during the 1930s or as intriguing as the Johnny West series made by Marx during the 1970s.    Included here are some examples that have somehow made a mark:
   Arcade Manufacturing Company: Extensive producer of quality toy vehicles, farm toys, and other related toys during the 1920s and 1930s. The toys were advertised as “they look real,” and the company was headquartered at Freepoint, Illinois.
   Auburn Rubber Company: Maker of quality rubber toys starting in the 1930s. Originally based in Auburn, Indiana, the operation produced toy automobiles, race cars, farm tractors, and sports figures. It was relocated to Mexico in the early 1960s and closed during the same decade.
   Barclay Manufacturing Company: A major producer of toy soldiers during the 1930s and early 1930s. Based in New Jersey, the firm ceased operations in the early 1970s.
   Billy and Ruth: Two idealized and fictional children who starred in toy industry and companion catalogs of the 1930s through the early 1950s. Their catalogs were filled with the choicest of toys from Fisher-Price, Lionel, Mattel, Hubley, Gilbert, Structo, and Wolverine.
   Buck Rogers Pistol: Buck was a science fiction spaceman who grabbed national attention in the 1930s as a comic strip, radio show, and movie serial. The most famous related artifact was probably the rocket pistol and holster from Daisy in 1934, although there were many other treasures from buttons to wind-up toys.
   Chein and Company: An early 20th century toy firm based in New York City. Chein enchanted the public with lithographed tinplate toys and later steel toys. Colorfully illustrated and well marked, the toys included banks, drums, tops, and tea sets. They also incorporated images of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Popeye.
   Daisy Air Rifles: Daisy was a very famous maker of toy pistols and air rifles during the 20th century. Most notable among them was the Buck Rogers Pistol and the Red Ryder Cowboy Carbine.
   Dowst: Two brothers, Charles and Samuel, organized the original Dowst Brothers Company which developed into a maker of toy cars, trains, and planes early in the 20th century. In the 1920s their diecast toys were renamed Tootsietoy after a granddaughter.
   Gong Bell Manufacturing: A unique bell making firm which also expanded to include toys in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Eventually they made a specialty of pull-type bell toys. Gong Bell was based in East Hampton, Connecticut.
   Hasbro Industries: Remarkable maker of dolls and toys during the 20th century including the legendary G.I. Joe figures and related memorabilia. The original Hassenfeld Brothers operation was located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
   Hubley Manufacturing: Highly regarded maker of cast iron toys early in the 20th century. The company featured a grand parade of automobiles, banks, trucks, and motorcycles. They also produced diecast cap pistols for a time. Based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the firm was sold to Gabriel Industries in the 1960s.
   Ives & Company: Once a major maker of cast iron and tinplate toys including quality trains and accessories. The firm was founded by E. R. Ives in the 1860s in Plymouth, Connecticut. At the zenith of their operation they made both wind-up and electric toy trains early in the 20th century. Lionel Manufacturing took over Ives production in the 1930s.
   Kenner Products Company: Maker of cloth dolls and other toys beginning during the late 1940s in Cincinnati, Ohio.
   Kenton Hardware: Noted for a wide variety of metal toys eventually including cap pistols. Based in Kenton, Ohio the firm functioned from the early 1900s into the 1950s.
   Lionel Manufacturing: A major maker of electric trains and related accessories during the first half of the 20th century. Later known as Lionel Corporation, it acquired rivals Ives and American Flyer before ending production in the late 1960s.
   Little Country Doctor Kit: The kit was a popular item made by Transogram during the early 1950s. Originally the kits were made of cardboard with all plastic items. Tansogram also made similar Little Play Nurse kits for children complete with simulated alligator carry case.
   Manoil Company: One a leading manufacturer of toy soldiers and other lead figures plus accessories during the 1930s. Originally based in New York City, it was later relocated. During the 1940s composition replaced metal as the main ingredient of toy figures and toy vehicles, later plastic was used. Manoil closed during the middle 1950s.
   Meccano: This was the trade name of a British maker of construction toys. The firm was founded by Frank Hornby in Liverpool, England. Meccano was also the maker of Dinky Toys, and some vehicles. Various 20th century markings on their toys included Meccano, Hornby, and M. Ld. L.
   Milton Bradley Company: Legendary maker of educational toys and games. The firm was established during the 1860s in Springfield, Massachusetts. Their line included building blocks, Game of Life, Wheel of Fortune, construction toys, puzzles, lithographed buildings, paint sets, and much more.
   Moline Pressed Steel: Distinguished 20th century maker of steel toy cars, trucks, fire engines, and other toy vehicles. Based in Moline, Illinois, the founder was Fred Lundahl. One of the company’s most famous brands was Buddy L which based on the name of the founder’s son.
   Parker Brothers: Launched during the 1880s in Salem, Massachusetts, the firm when on to be one of the nation’s most prolific maker’s of children’s games. An early best-seller was Monopoly, however during the 20th century the firm produced hundreds of colorful and educational board games.
   Union Products: Mid-20th century maker of plastic holiday-related toys and candy containers. Firm was based in Leominister, Massachusetts.
   View-Master: Popular viewing device which used a vast variety of round reels. Early in the 1970s the Montgomery Ward catalog still offered the standard viewers as well as lighted talking viewers, and a View-Master projector.
   The above definitions are from The Antique and Collectible Dictionary by Robert and Claudette Reed (Collector Books).

Toy Makers captions

McCormick-Deering tractor from Aracade, cast iron, 1927.

Latter 19th century train engine by Ives, with lithographed name.

Chein and Company metal clown bank, late 1930s.

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