Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Gong Bell Toy Company

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Gong Bell Toy Company

    I keep wondering if I'm ever going to run out of old and antique toy companies to find. Yet yesterday, I find another one from the late 19th century in the USA. The Gong Bell toy company was created in 1866 by 4 people - Mr. H.H.Abbe, Mr. E.C.Barton, Mr. E.C.Cone, and Mr. A.H.Conklin.  

In 1872, Mr. Barton patented a unique toy (at the time) called "Revolving Chimes".  The toy was described in the patent as " a pair of cast bronze gongs, mounted between two malleable iron wheels". From that 1 patent and design,the company flourished and expanded to make many toys based on that idea. The company produced mostly toys with bells, and as you'll see, their very specific type of toy is easily recognized as a Gong Bell.  The company stopped production in the mid-1960's, almost lasting a century.

     Gong Bell incorporated in Connecticut (USA) in 1899.  Along the way, the company made the first bell for a car, and later a toy telephone with a bell and a moveable receiver hook. Wooden toys were also made,and like all companies, went into war production during WWII.  They manufactured hardware for parachutes .  Sadly, like many other companies, the late 1950's and early 1960's had plastics gain a large market hare for toys, and Gong Bell could not compete,nor were their toys as popular as they once were earlier.   The company eventually closed down for good in the mid 1960's.

AS the toy is pulled along with a string (pull toy), the 2 goats rise and fall. THey do so via their connection to 2 L-shaped axles. They alternately strike the bell, so that there is a ring-ring sound.  

The toy above is  interesting in terms of its bell-ringing. An irregular rear axle causes the "tramp" character to rise and fall as the toy is pulled along with a string. This subsequently causes the 2 small round metal shapes attached to the chains on each side of the bell to hit the large bell in an intermittent manner.

As you can easily see, there are 3 main characteristics that will most-eality identify these toys as made by Gong Bell

1. The bell and accompanying parts to hit the bell.
2. An interesting character represented by an animal or person
3. The beautifully intricate wheels

I'd bet that if you ever see a toy like this at an auction, toy fair, or yard sale, you will definitely know it as a Gong Bell toy!

Thanks for dropping by,

and as always, have a great part of the day,
wherever you may be.


Bill and Judy said...

How much does not having the underside mechanism to make the pony turn and ring the bell effect the value of the iron toy. This toy has good original paint and has no apparent damage other than the underside workings are missing.
Bill Castor

toysearcher said...

Hello Bill,

Thanks for reading my blog.
I cannot give you an estimate as I'm not a toy expert, and don't collect right now.
I wrote about Mr. Bob Watrous, who is a distant realtime of the original Watrous founder. He has an excellent website about these fine toys.

You can ask him your question and perhaps he can answer it.

Bob's website is below:


Stacey Bindman
author of this blog

Nicholas Lee said...

I really love the Gong Bell Company

Nicholas Lee said...

I just ran into the ice cream truck which was made in 1922. Being one of the first toys from Gong Bell I think it highly collectible . I have it on eBay but I would love some feedback before it sells . It's really great and so is the Gong Bell story

toysearcher said...

Hi Nicholas,

I wrote to Mr. Bob Watrous (please see my reply to Mr. Bill Castor) above.
I asked if you knight write to him, and see if he'll answer you. He's distant relative of the Watrous founder, and he knows a lot about these fine toys.

Thanks for writing,

Stacey Bindman
Writer of this blog