Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Unique Art Manufacturing Company

Friday, September 12, 2014
Sunny, clear skies, but seasonally cooler

The Unique Art Manufacturing Company

   I had already visited Liveauctioneers several times earlier in the week. However when I visited it today I decided to check up on  Morphy Auctions toys for sale. I had received an e-mail since I'm on the company's mailing list. What I noticed very surprisingly was that the company  was  now presenting very large sizes of images - Bravo!   It's always great for myself when writing to be able to see detail,so that if something catches my eye, I can see the details better, and be able to write more confidently as to what I see.

                                   Unique Art

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Unique Art Manufacturing Company was an American toy company, founded in 1916, based in Newark, New Jersey that made inexpensive toys, including wind-up mechanical toys, out of lithographed tin. One of its early products was a wind-up toy featuring two tin boxers.
The company scored a hit in the 1940s when it acquired the rights to a popular comic strip and released the Li'l Abner Dogpatch Band for Christmas 1945. The windup toy featured Abner dancing, Pappy on drums, Mammy with a drum stick, and Daisy Mae playing piano. Unique followed with a Howdy Doody band several years later.
Unique's president, Sammy Bergman, was a good friend of toy magnate Louis Marx, and the two men's companies at times cooperated, with Marx providing tooling to Unique and sometimes acting as a distributor for Unique's products.
In 1949, Unique began producing lithographed tin O gauge toy trains, using tooling of its own design along with some recycled tooling from the defunct Dorfan Company. Unique sold its trains in inexpensive boxed sets like Marx, and also produced a circus set that was distributed on a car-by-car basis by the [Jewel Tea Company] Jewel Companies. Marx saw this as a betrayal and responded with a new line similar in size to Unique's, but with lithography that looked more realistic. Unique found itself unable to compete, and withdrew its trains from the marketplace by 1951.
Although Unique was unable to capture much of a piece of the toy train craze of the early 1950s, a tin typewriter toy introduced during the same time frame did take market share away from Marx, who had a similar toy. Marx responded by moving production of its typewriter toy to Japan in order to undercut Unique's price.
Unique Art's eventual fate is unclear but the company appears to have disappeared by 1952."* 
                                                              • Description and biography courtesy of Wikipedia

The elephant with the airplane and flying clown is my favourite.
I'm sure this toy delighted many young children with its motion and characters.

I think most of these toys were made  in the late 1930's and 1940's or later.  With the disharmony between Mr. Louis Marx and Mr.Sammy Bergman (please read the Wikipedia narrative above), as well as many toys that would have flooded America after WWII, the "writing on the wall" was to be seen by many American toy companies. Toys could be manufactured much less expensively, and it was important to help the defeated axis (Japan and Germany) after the war.

If you were born at the time of this toy's manufacture or earlier, you would have been familiar with the cast of characters from this newspaper feature. The characters of course are from the Li'l Abner Dogpatch comic strip. I know, because I would read these comics every day in our 2 local newspapers - THe Montreal Gazette, and The Montreal Star. As well, I also read the many American newspapers that my father would bring home daily to read. He had never finished high school because his father died at a very young age, and my father had to quit school to go work to help the family. He always brought home newspapers to keep abreast of  the news and to know about the latest technology, politics, and other important matters.

If you were born in the late 1940's or early 1950's toy would have been familiar with Howdy Doody, and his creator Bob Smith. And if your parents were able, they would have purchased a TV, which at the time was in black and white. We had an antenna on the roof with a rotary dial on the TV. Cable was not around, but something called Rediffusion (in Montreal, Quebec) was. We didn't have Rediffusion until 1960.  The rotary would rotate the antenna to pick up the strongest signal which came from the 2 American channels out of New York and Vermont.

I was already too old (6-12 years) when Howdy Doody was on TV, but occasionally I'd watch it with my grandmother Lily and "the twins" - Michael and Brenda, my siblings. Jay was born in 18958, so he was still quite young, but also watched.

I'm sure anyone who knew Howdy Doody can remember the song that introduced the show:

It's Howdy Doody time, It's Howdy Doody Time…

I can't believe that that jingle from Howdy Doody is still in my head!

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

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