This blog discusses old toys from the early 1920's to the end of the 1950's. All kinds of topics are discussed.
The time span was the greatest period for "hands-on" toys, where a young child could actually go outside and play for hours at a time.
You can see the elegance but simple design of these toys. It was a time when huge machines, and people made and finished toys by hand.
The era has long passed, but many of the toys are still around, and that is what I would like to share.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Introducing Mr. Richard Mueller Jr. - Toy Collector
Saturday, November 8, 2014 Cloudy and cold
Introducing Mr. Richard Mueller Jr.
Today's post introduces you to Mr. Richard Mueller Jr., a very interesting toy collector. However, I will introduce him "properly" in a soon to come post. I'd dropped by Richard's website many times, and even sent a request a while back for permission to write about him, however he never got back to me. That happens, and I forgot, since I am always trying t keep up with trying to post daily. I can see why writing as a reporter is not so easy!
Flash forward to yesterday, and I just received a Gong Bell Manufacturing Co. catalogue, circa probably 1924 or 1925. I looked through the 26 pages of photos (29 pages altogether), and there was writing on the pages in black ink. It turned out to be "original" in the sense that this booklet was probably either an edit version for reprint, or perhaps someone who had the catalogue had written the writing.
What was interesting is that the crossed out word was "rubber" and had been replied with handwriting with the word "chenille". There were other "edits" throughout the small catalogue, and many items had been rubber-stamped "discontinued.
But the story gets even better. This reproduction catalogue that I had purchased on ebay was reprinted by the Antique Toy Collectors of America (ATCA) for their Spring 1977 meeting, and was generously donated by Lloyd Ralston of Fairfield Connecticut, USA. Mr. ralston was the owner of the Lloyd Ralston Gallery, but passed away much too young. His two sons gave me permission to use their photos and write about them a few years ago. They were one of the first group of people who helped me get this blog going after I stopped buying and selling on ebay.
And now to finish the story. I mentioned earlier that the word "rubber" kept being marked out and being replaced with the word "chenille". Naturally, I searched for the words "Gong Bell Chenille" or combinations of these words, and lo and behold, I came to Mr. Richard Mueller Jr.'s website. Nowhere else did I find anything, except for the original patent pages. I decided to write to Richard and ask for permission. He wrote back, and when I returned home from having done a few chores, I had his permission.
Below is a screen-capture of Richard's introductory page. Richard started to collect toys after his 4th grandchild was born. I assume that he also started his fine website at the same time. He has spent a lot of time both collecting a, as well as writing on his website. His site lis a great resource for toy collectors, especially word toys, and he had plenty of links (connections) to redirect collector to other fine sites.
I mentioned earlier that I will introduce Richard "properly" in the immediate future, but I wanted to present his screen-captures about today's Gong Bell chenille toys.
I added the Merriam-Webster definition of the word "chenille" just in case anyone didn't know the word. It's a fabric word that most moment would know about. I know it since I had a sister, and of course a mother. But later in the 1990's, I took up the hoppy of fly-tying, and this material came up. Sometimes the fibrous nature of this material is great for flies, since it resembles the hairs on a caterpillar that the dictionary entry mentions. What's also great about chenille is that it allows the fly to float, since a "hairy" fly would float and have to in order for the fish to be "fooled". A sinking hairy fly would not do!
The Gong Bell Manufacturing Co. Catalog
What I don't understand is why the Gong Bell Company had made minor changes to their wheels.
First there were the original cast iron wheels that were quite ornate and beautiful in their pattern. Then the wheels had rubber tires.Was the rubber to mute the noise that would have been made by children pulling the toys inside houses and apartments? And then why change from rubber to chenille? The patent mentions protection to the child, and a multitude (variety) of colour for the wheel. But this had to be increase the cost for people to manually wind the material around the wheels.
Richard Mueller's Screen-Captures
A page from Richard's website featuring a sampling of Gong Bell Toys
An enlargement of the lower right section titled
"Floor Chimes 1920"
A screen-capture from another page of
Richard Mueller's fine website
One of Richard's toys
Gong Bell Manufacturing Company Pony Chime
Nickel-plated bell, cast iron wheels and spokes, lithographed tin horse.
L x H x W: 10" x 4" x 3.5" 254 mm x 101 mm x 89 mm
What can I say?
This certainly was a real puzzle to solve, and probably is one of my most multiple-sourced posts. But the best was to finally have Mr. Richard Mueller Jr. help me out and actually have specific examples of these fine Gong Bell chenille toys. I was surprised that I couldn't find any more on the Internet than what Richard has, but I'm sure there are some somewhere waiting to be found.
Of course, if anyone out there actually has one or more, plea feel free to e-mail me with your photos. I'd be happy to share them with everyone.
So thanks Richard for helping me out, and for everyone,