Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Toyclaus - Want to learn about Toys?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Want to Learn About Toys?

  Earlier on this week, I went to E-Bay to have a look. My attention was drawn to some nice Marx toys from the 1930's. So naturally (for me that it),I had to check out the seller, and all of his/her toys. As it turned out, his name is Mr. Nathan Forman, and he's been selling toys on ebay since August 1998. He's very busy now, but he promised to provide more  information about himself at a later date. In one of his listings for a toy, he mentioned that he was the past president of the Western Division of the TCA (Train Collectors Association) in the USA.

  What caught my attention about Nathan was his excellent record of feedback from ebay buyers. Second, was presentation of 12 photos for most of his listings. And third, was his written descriptions of his toys. That's how today's sub-title "Want to Learn About Toys?" came about. It's rare that someone writes a lot of information about a toy, so when someone does, I read it. 'm like that - I like details, and how a toy works!


With these 12 photos,you can see exactly what this toy does (without a written explanation).
The front wheels turn left or right via the steering wheel, and the dump part of the truck tilts via a chain and handle mechanism. Nathan also described the wheels as aluminum - I didn't know that!

Once again, there is not much need for a written narrative to explain what this toy does. However, this is a Smith-Miller toy made in 1954. The company is still in existence and still makes an excellent product. These heavy-duty toys are in high demand and garner high prices at auction or sales. With the photos that Nathan took, that I forgot to mention are excellent, you can see why these toys are so  much in demand.  Everything is heavy duty, and still works - from 1954! I like the tilt of the dumpster via the piston, the heavy duty tires, and the doors that open and close!

I saved this Hubley 1920's-1930's cast iron grasshopper for last. It's one of my favourite toys, but I'll let Nathan's written narrative explain it all.

"Original, large size, Hubley cast iron pull toy grasshopper.  JUST LIKE THE GRASSHOPPER IN DISNEY’S, “GRASSHOPPER AND THE ANTS” Animated Cartoon.
This toy was made by the Hubley Toy Company of Lancaster, Pa. circa 1920's-1930's.
This example is entirely, 100%, original & complete in all respects. The toy retains all of its original colorful green paint which still has its superb original gloss intact.
The head has the original wire springs which form the antenna. The original red wooden hubs for the front wheels are present as well as the two original white rubber tires. There is a Hubley “Motorcycle Type wheel/tire” that is inserted in the crevice of his torso.  When pulled, the wheel/tire has a centrifugal motion that allows the grasshopper’s legs to move up and down, walking across the grass, getting ready to hop, skip, and jump, to the ant’s house.

Patina is all there.  Has few minor paint loss, very few as the pictures show. 
There are no flattened places on the large wheel. There are no repairs, no cracks, no chips to the iron, & no replaced parts anywhere on this toy. The toy is 100% original as shown in all respects. It is unusual to find one of these that is in this condition as nice as this is without any repairs or replacement components.
The only thing missing on this toy is the original pull string and wooden ball used to hand-pull for action.  Has the original loop for this on top of his head for string.
The middle sections of the large back legs are made of aluminum as issued and is correct.  The back sections of the large legs are made of iron and, they too, are correct. All of the rest of the components of the body of the grasshopper are made of iron.
The toy measures approximately 11 1/2 inches long with the legs extended out in the back and to the top front of the wire springs in the head.
The height to the top joint section of the large legs is 5 inches. The width across the middle lower legs is 4 3/8 inches. As the toy is pulled the flat spring under the toy runs across a gear & makes a sound in imitation of a grasshopper, A WONDERFUL AND UNUSUAL TOY WITH AN IMPRESSIVE SIZE.  DO NOT CONFUSE WITH SMALLER VERSION."

The reason that I like this toys is first for the fact that the Hubley company made it.  I can't imagine what made Hubley and its designers and salepeople come up with such an idea, but they did, and they sold many! However,it's the design and engineering of the toys that fascinates me. The toy moves, it articulates, and it makes noises, and all of this had to be designed. Just figuring out how to attach the 2 parts of the grasshoppers legs is a feat unto itself!

Please have a look at Nathan's fine photos in the slideshow mode of Blogger.There the photos are much larger than can be shown in the normal view mode.These photos are great, especially in illustrating how a toy works, or presenting the features of the toy. It's easy to see why Nathan is such a well-received seller on E-Bay!

Ah to be 7 years old again!

Thanks for dropping by,

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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Randy Inman - A Fine Auctioneer and Company

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Randy Inman
A Fine Auctioneer and Company

   Not all toy stories are happy ones. I had seen the name of Randy Inman and Randy Inman Auctions Inc. plenty of times on Liveauctioneers, yet I could never find a direct link to his auction site in Maine. Yesterday, I decided to do a search ion the Net and found the sad news. Mr. Inman had passed away on July 4, 2011, after a lengthy illness, which also had forced him to close his fine business. He was only 55 years old . Randal D. "Randy" Inman was born in Tacoma Washington (USA), and was an athlete who was the quarterback and captain of his high school football team.  He started work young, and eventually became a manager of Laverdiere's. Later, he decided to work for James D. Julia, another very fine auction house and person in Maine. Later, Randy left to form his own company, and operated it very successfully until his illness overcame him.

    I wrote to Liveauctioneers to see if there was someone from whom I might get permission for the use of Randy's photos, and they replied by saying that I could use them . I would simply need to mention both Liveauctioneers and Randy Inman Auction Inc. for the credits. I hope that through this blog, his name and fine toys will continue to be seen and remembered.

   As you look at the toys, you can see how Randy Inman already had he foresight to  photograph his toys exceptionally well. Also, he placed them against a white background, which I have started to do in the last 6 months. The sampling of just 10 of his numerous sold toys are certainly diverse, rare, and some even have their originally boxes.  Randy certainly learned his trade well from James. D. Julia. Sadly, he died much too young. I hope to return to Randy's listings to write more about the toys, and Randy if I can find more information about this fine person.

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

write to me anytime.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Gum Ball Machine

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Gum Ball Machine

   Everyone remembers the gum ball  or gumball machine. I've spelled the word or words in 2 ways as the Net spells it "gumball" compared with the auctioneers who spell it mostly in 2 words gum ball. I can remember when  gum ball machines were everywhere. Back then in the 1950's and later, you could but a gum ball for a penny. Then a penny actually had value. Here in Canada our"smart" government did away with the "penny" in February 2013 to save money in minting, while at the same time can't account for  $3,000,000,000.00 in their budget!

   Up here in canada the main gum ball machine was the Beaver brand, and the machines were everywhere. I hardly saw any other brands, and the American brands, like most other things couldn't bother selling up here - the market was too small. a mere 15-18 million in the 1950's.

   Eventually, the gumball machine broadened to include peanuts and jellybeans while the cost went up to a "nickel". Here in Canada we called a 5 cent piece a nickel as that's what the coin was made of. Sudbury, Ontario, Canada became internationally renowned when nickel was discovered there  in the mid-later 1800's. Nowadays, our "nickel" is an alloy of some sort, since nickel is too costly to use for the coin. There are even  rumours to eliminate the 5 cent coin!

   I occasionally will buy a gumball , now the size of a golfball (spellcheck doesn't highlight the word golfball!), and the cost is now 25 cents.There's nothing like chewing a piece of gum to "chaw down" and exercise your facial muscles!

  For those who may have wondered how I "stuck in" a post about gum balls, here's the answer. There were toy gumball machines that could be purchased, and there probably still are, but now, like everything else they come will lots of warnings, especially when children under 5 years of age are involved. This of course is to warn against accidental swallowing or choking. I always wanted and still want a parking meter for my computer room. But without the penny (I'll have to use American pennies - there's no budget constraint there!), I would have to buy a used penny-nickel-dime machine, and they're expensive.  I'm still looking!

The machine above actually does other things besides dispensing a gumball.
Please read the description to see.

The more common  machine.
I like the large lock on the machine to try and prevent thieves from stealing the "loot" inside!

I like the writing on the label - "Nutritious and Healthful"

The machine above is beautiful.  It's made from cast aluminum and wooden and I've "dodged" the metallic parts to highlight the beautiful designs of the metal. "Dodge" is a photographic term meaning to hold back light in order to lighten an area. It was used in the darkroom (now an almost obsolete process and room). The term has carried over into Photoshop, and other photo-editing software.

I like the bright yellow of this machine. That certainly would attract children from a far distance!

This last pair of machines most closely resemble the Canadian  Beaver brand of machine.
The difference is that on the metal cover when the gumball drops, there is an impression of our national animal - the beaver!

Thanks for dropping by,

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


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kingsbury Cars with Lots of Colour

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kingsbury Cars with Lots of Colour

    Yesterday, I promised that I'd present what I feel is a fabulous post. Of course, since I hardly ever received any comments from you, my readers I seldom know if I'm doing good job, or if my opinions are valid. Sooooo....! If anyone would like to comment, now's the time. Just add your comment at the bottom of the post, or if you'd like to write and keep the conversation private, just e-mail me,
 (Mr.) Stacey Bindman (toy

    When I started to screen-capture all of these images from Bertoia Auctions excellent website, I had no idea I'd be downloading so many. This post certainly relates to the expression "a journey begins with one step at a time".  By the time I had finished I had download close to 50 images, of which I used what you see below. What I found amazing for myself is being able to screen-capture so many differnet images and only making 2-3 mistakes, which were in the duplication of similar colour schemes or combinations. What all this  beautiful colour reminded me of was the famous expression from Henry Ford in his 1923 autobiography - "Henry Ford - My Life and Work" where he says "Any customer can have a car painted any colour so long as it is black"*


If you visited yesterday's post (July 27, 2013), you would have read that Kingsbury made 4 different models of cars:

1. Sport roadster
2.  Coupe
3. Landau sedan / town car - 2 windows on each side
4. Town car - 3 windows on each side
5. Town Car /Cabriolet

1. The Kingsbury Sport Roadsters

2. The Kingsbury Coupe

3. The Kingsbury  Landau Sedan / Town car
(2 windows on each side)

  4. The Kingsbury  Landau Sedan / Town car
(3 windows on each side)

5. The Kingsbury Town Car (Cabriolet)

5. The Kingsbury Cars
(An attempt to explain the model numbers)

   I don't have a  Kingsbury catalogue - yet! So I've had to try and figure out the catalogue numbering system. So here are my deductions which might be wrong:

1. The cars all have license plates with the model of the car.

2. Cars with non-operating headlights (earlier models) will have a 3 for the first of a 3-digit number

3. Cars with electric-operating headlights (battery) will have a 2  for the first of a 3-digit number

You can compare the number 345 with the number 245 to see the differences.

  I'm unsure as to what the numbers are for the differnt types of cars. I have written them down, but some seem to vary from type to type, with 2 different types having the same license plate or number. For sure, I'll have to do some more "digging" (research). Of course, if anyone out there, especially in Keene, New Hampshire (USA) has a catalogue, that would make my job a lot easier!

  I hope everyone enjoys today's post as much as me, and  if you do, please don't be shy to write me!

Thanks for dropping by,

and as always,
have a great part of the day or night,
wherever you my be,

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Kingsbury Toy Cars-The Earlier Years - Part I

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Kingsbury Toy Cars  
The Earlier Years-Part I

    In researching old and antique toys, one very interesting fact keeps arising. It's the fact that a long time ago, an American company, and for that matter probably any European company, could start up in small towns across a nation. As of the 2010 census, there were 23, 409 people living there, and as I mentioned, several toy companies were able to establish themselves in the early 1900's in Keene!

   I've had the pleasure of having purchased a  Kingsbury toy car, and I  mostly restored it. If you do a search on my blog, you'll find the post. It's a much later Kingsbury car, if my memory serves me correctly, from the 1930's. I was impressed. I like pressed steel toys for the way they are assembled, and pressed. However the Kingsbury toys are just beautiful to look at in photos, especially when I place them against a white background.

  Today, I'm writing about the Kingsbury toy cars in the years from about 1918. At the time, the company had already been making wagons, trucks,and a few other items. However, I'm going to be writing about their fine cars for the next couple of posts.  There were a few of the  1918-1920 models and later on, more car models developed. I'm just presenting 9 different car models that I've found. The "big" toy show will be in the next post, and you will definitely will be impressed!

The early cars or automobiles as they were then called are boxy. That's because the "real" cars then were boxy. The early Kingsbury cars are made from pressed steel of a moderate thickness. The cars come with white rubber tires and have a well-designed and durable clockwork mechanism on the underside (undercarriage). Also, the early models (1918-1920) come with hand  painted cast iron drivers.

By the mid 1920's and later,  the real auto is becoming "curvier" and more sophisticated in design.
The Kingsbury company had expanded their product line, and had 5 basic models with a myriad (lots) of different colour combinations (wait till you see my post tomorrow!).

The Kingsbury models included:

1. The convertible "Fire Chief" coupe
2. A regular coupe 
3. A regular coupe with a driver
4. A sedan or "Landau" with electric (battery) lights
5. A larger sedan

The later models below still are made from pressed steel, and are painted. However the colour schemes are many and are usually two-toned. As well, there may be an accent colour, usually fold on the sides. Sometimes, there is a wide band of colour on the sides of the cars.

The very durable wind-up motor mechanism is still incorporated into the undercarriage of the car, along with white rubber tires. The hubs or wheels are sometimes metallic discs. AS well, a new feature has been incorporated into many models, and that is the battery-operated (electric) front headlights, and rear night light (not a break light). An on/off switch on the underside turns the running lights on or off.  

Also, have a look at the textured front grill that changed form the earlier smooth front grills of the earlier times.

I've only presented one model (the last one below) with battery-operated lights. The rest were still carryovers from the earlier years design.

 You can see how beautiful these cars are, and I especially like their sizes. They're quite large,and are hands-on toys! Also the many different colour schemes make for nice collectibles. As far as toys go, there are still plenty of these Kingsbury toys around, and that certainly says a lot about the fine company and people that once made these fine cars.

Thanks for dropping by,

and as always, have a great weekend, or part of the day or night if you happen to visit at some other time,