Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Reader Inquires About a Cast Iron Toy

Monday, September 8, 2014
            Sunny and slightly cooler

A Reader Inquires About
a Cast Iron Toy

   This past week, I received two inquiries about the authenticity of toys from their owners. I asked bot people to send me more photos and better photos with some specific requests as to specific parts of the toy. One reader, Mr. Jim Prochaska, sent me more photos. Two of his initial photos were great, but I needed more. I received them yesterday, worked on them with minimal effort and then replied.

  I'll first present to you Jim's excellent photographs,and then I'll give you my analysis as to whether the toy is an authentic Hubley cast iron Racer #5 or a reproduction. 

Description of the  Authentic Hubley Racer #5

Early 1930's painted cast iron.  Painted overall yellow with embossed  number 5 (5) painted in red)
Each of the two sides open to reveal the engine. The grille is nickel-plated. Seated driver, painted disc wheels.  There are true Hubley # 3 Racers" that are nickel-plated.

L x W (wheelbase) x H:  9 1/2"  x 3 1/4"  x  3 1/2"      242  mm  x  83 mm x 89 mm

My First reply to Jim

Good Morning Jim,

Thanks for finding my blog and sending me a question.
I have to say first of all that I am no expert, and that I have not seen (up close and personal) most toys.
On the other hand, I have written 871 posts, and have been learning a lot from writing and researching.

Also,I would like to ask you if:

a. you might like to send me more photos of the toy
b. Send me the dimensions (L x W x H).

1. I need more photos of the underside of the car, and a photo to see how the driver is attached to the car body.
2. The front of the car, as well as the left and right sides.
3. Any close up possible markings. A marking simply means an impression in the cast iron that would be marked "Hubley",and other impressions such as numbers.
4. No flash photos such as in images  1  & 2 (Starting from left to right).The reason is that I can't tell if the screw is new (very shiny) or old,
    since the flash has "washed out (A photographic term for overexposure). I do have to say that your 3 & 4 photos are excellent, and 
    are excellently photographed.

I do have something for you to observe in your toy and in the photos.

Notice the filing or grinding marks on the left and right sides of the toy.
Authentic cast iron toys (based of the few ones that I did buy and sell on ebay,and comments from 
reading about authentic cast iron toys), do not usually have filing or grinding marks
The castings were well done at the  time,and the surfaces are smooth. 

If you go to Liveauctioneers and search "Hubley Race Car", many cars similar to yours will come up.

Reading the descriptions, you will see different variations and descriptions of the car from different auctioneers.
Also, in some models, this toy is described as having been made of both cast iron and aluminum in some descriptions.
One other point. If you look at the front (grill) Hubley race car #5, most authentic ones were nickel-plated, so that the front would not corrode too much.

I found one finished item on ebay that you can look at:

I selected this one as a reference because the seller took lots of photos that in fact show the markings that I mentioned earlier.

And finally, if you do send me more photos, How would you like to appear on my blog?

I would need your written permission to use your photos, and if you've noticed, for the last 6 months I have been cleaning up our removing backgrounds
to present toys against white (with your permission).  I find that this presents the toy and the toy features best.
I also usually introduce people by their name, but if you prefer, I can =introduce you anonymously.

Thanks and have a great day,
(Mr.) Stacey Bindman
Montreal,Quebec, Canada

My Second reply to Jim

Hi Jim,

I've attached a close-up (copy and paste) of the inside of hood side.
It appears to have a number, but the lighting and resolution precludes my saying that is a number 100%.  
Also, most groups of photos for an item seldom present the undersides toys.
I know form writing about toys that this usually happens, and I just went to an old similar toy that I bought and wrote about 
(terrible condition, and of course, I didn't take any underside photos).

I've only read that "reproductions"  will have file or grinding marks because these
castings are never as good as the original toys.

I'll be adding your post after I send this e-mail,and 
it should be up and running by 8:00 P.M.

Buddy, our dark is barking, so my  wife is now home,
and it's time to prepare supper.

Great photos - are you a photographer by chance?

And if you're a collector, and would like to share your photos and thoughts,
I'd be glad to add you as a guest to my blog.

Thanks for the "reshoots.
When I taught pro photography, asking students for reshoots was like pulling teeth (I'm not a dentist!).

Have a pleasant evening,


Some Key Points

There are 3 main points to consider with cast iron:

1. Cast iron toys were made in 2 halves  that were bilaterally symmetrical.This simply means
 that the 2  sides are exact but opposite for the left and right. Most of the 2 halves would be held together by a smooth rod that was round at one end, and the other was hammered with a peen hammer to secure the 2 halves together. I said "most", because like this particular toy, screws were used, and this is an exception.

2. The casting of these old toys were made quite well and the surfaces are smooth. IN the case of Jim's toy, there are either bring marks or file marks on the underside of the frame.

3. Most manufacturers (not all),  had markings on their cast iron toys.THe markings could include the actual name or numbers.

Final Summary

    1. The authentic Hubley # 5 Racer is not the rarest nor the most expensive of the cast iron race cars, when it is not in very good condition. So even though there may be "reproductions" or "fakes", I would think it would be better to create forgeries of more expensive toys.  

  2.  Because the authentic Hubley # 5 is more common and not the rarest, most auctioneers simply take a few photographs to present to the potential bidder. As such, the important details such as  how the 2 halves of the toy are attached, or whether or not screws are used, or that "true" original toys do not have bringing or file marks are never mentioned.

3.  When Jim sent me the new photos I did notice a number above (I think). So could this be a "real" Hubley?

  I'm no expert, and I've only had one of these that I purchased. It wasn't in near the good condition as Jim's, and at the time, I didn't even take photos of the underside or noticed any markings, since at that time, I was not as "educated" about toys, as I am now. However, I'm far from being an expert at all.  I would have said that Jim's toy is a "reproduction", but with the number that  I noticed above, I'm not 100% sure now.

  The best thing for Jim to do would be to go to a nearby toy seller or antique seller or auctioneer, and ask him/her for their more expert advise. 

  Now, if someone out there could help us out, that would be a great help. If you even have a "real" one of these, then by all means send me the photos and we can present your "real" Hubley # 5 for a separate post, and compare the 2.

Thanks for visiting,
and as always ,
have a great part of the day or night,
wherever you may be,


Bob Walden said...

What a great post! Great close up photos to look at. Keep the identifying photos coming!! And repo or not that's a cool looking racer!

toysearcher said...

Hi Bob,

Thanks for commenting.
It's always great when a reader can take good photos.
It's not really all that hard, once you know how.
I also have another blog about photography, but I stopped writing to concentrate on this blog.
The web address is: