Saturday, July 13, 2013

Matching A.C.Williams Toys to Their Original Catalogue Drawings

Saturday,  July 13, 2013

Matching A.C.Williams Toys
 to Their Original Catalogue

   I just "recovered" from having cycled today.  I went with my friend Lou who is an excellent cyclist. I can't keep up with him, nor do I try. However I haven't exercised much this summer (so far!),  so I can't expect to be a "Tour de France" athlete, much as I might wish. It's 16:50 P.M. EST and I'm now writing.

  As of today, I have had 493 page views to my post:

   That's a unique "rarity", as I never get more than a dozen page views after about 1 week of having posted a new article.  Yesterday, I received a 1934 A.C.Williams Toy Catalogue , so today's blog choice was an easy topic to  write about. I must say however, that this catalogue, and the many numerous sizes and distribution of the toys in the catalogue almost had me rethinking the post. A.C.Williams made many identical cast iron toys,but for the sizes. So 1 car, for example, might have been made in 3 different sizes. Not only that, but the catalogue has photos and drawings of an item with nickel-plated wheels,  while the written description describes the toy as having wooden hubs with rubber tires!

   Anyway, I've very persistent and stubborn. So once I started this post with the scans and screen-catprures, I had to finish the job! And so today, I present to you a sampling of the A.C.Williams  1934 catalogue with toys that have been sold by Bertoia Auctions.

    If you look at all of the actual catalogue pages, notice the weight of the toys in terms of their packaging. By the dozen, those toy weigh quite a lot. However since shipping at the time was inexpensive, cast iron toys in America were made more than other types such as pressed steel. At that time (1920's-1930's), Europe manufacturers made toys of tin.

        I'm always enthralled by the fact that nickel-plating was often used for parts of the cast iron toys. Either the wheels or the driver would often be nickel-plated. Our 5-cent piece in Canada was called a "nickel" for the reason of being made from nickel. Sudbury, Ontario, Canada is a world-famous mining town.Of course our 5-cent piece is now just another piece of metal made from inexpensive metal! 

The design and the assembly of above toys were  patented. The bottom of the toy or undercarriage could be separated or attached with a different top or chassis.  The attachment was with a spring clip. As a result, these toys came individually or in kits (4 different upper bodies), and could be interchanged.

Here's an example of an A.C.Williams toy coming in 2 sizes. What's also of interest to me is the fact that the smaller moving van has nickel-plated wheels, while the larger one has white rubber tires mounted on red wooden hubs

I'll have to search out when the change was made, but I would think the nickel-plated wheels were introduced early in the company's history, followed later by the rubber tires on the wooden hubs.

Another example of the A.C.Williams patented removable top from the bottom toy.
Surprise - compare the  drawing of the toy on page 35 with the actual toy above and see if you notice can the difference between the 2.

There are 2 very interesting things to note on page 37 of the catalogue.

1. The drawings are of upper  first car appears to have nickel-plated wheels (metal) ,
but the written description is that of rubber tires! You can understand how I got confused looking for 1 toy description, but finding the other!

2. I wrote Chrysler Airflow below in the description.  I wrote a post about this particular toy car and the original "real" car of its time.  Sadly, the real car did not sell well, and production stopped after only 3 years. If you search on the Net for this car, you'll see a beautiful car for its time.

What's curious for me is why A.C.Williams did not describe the car as a "Chrysler Airflow".
Was this an oversight or  could the cast iron car have been manufactured without Chrysler having sued A.C.Williams for patent rights on the model?

When I sold on E-Bay, I actually had a toy similar to this one. It also hghd the open and close rubble seat.

Hmm! There are those hook "discrepancies" again. THe smaller one has a nickel-plated hook that appears to be backwards, while the larger one  on the catalogue page has a nickel-plated hook, rather than an inexpensive less-expensive hooks.

And the wheels in the catalogue appears as nickel-plated with a more intricate design, than the simpler rubber tires on red hugs!

Details, details!

My favourite!
That ages golden colour of the  nickel-plated wheels contrasting with this particular colour of blue is fantastic. I also like the lack of detail (where's the motor?), and what appears to be an oversized driver, or an undersized machine. 


Thought I should send you a note concerning the pretty blue A C Williams “road scraper” shown in your 7/13/13 blog.  You don’t see a motor because of a lack of detail, but because there wasn’t one.  This type of machine was pulled by a tractor or horses.

When I was young our township (in Iowa) owned one of these and it was available for any of the farmers to use.  My father would drive the tractor and I would operate the two big wheels that your blue operator is holding on to.  The wheels would make adjustments to the blade, moving it up or down and tilting it front to rear when necessary.  To change the angle of attack of the blade (rotating it) you would have to stop and do it manually. 

We called it a road “grader.”  I always enjoyed working with it.  Thanks for bringing up a pleasant memory!

John  and Christine Armstrong
Omaha, Nebraska"

I received the nice note above on Sunday, July 14, 2013. I left my original comment in order for readers to understand the context with which  John and Christine Armstrong wrote their note.


I was able to find a nice old photo of a pair of horses pulling a road grader. The riders are mentioned as  Indian, but I prefer to call  them"Native Americans".
If you  look closely, you can see a foal (baby horse) walking  alongside his/her parents. 

This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the ARC Identifier (National Archives Identifier)  285802
Please do not copy without reading the Wikipedia instructions about copyright

Again, notice the difference between the wheels drawing (complicated design and probably nickel-plated) compared with the actual toy (rubber tires mounted on wooden rims). 

 One thing I can say with absolute honesty . Writing about toys is always fun and interesting. But finding the old catalogue photos and drawings, then matching them with toys that have been sold in the last decade is fantastic! It would be like an Egyptologist having a map to King Tut's pyramid, and then finding all of the treasures after all those millennia!

Thanks for dropping by,
on this fine summer day (at least here!)

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


Unknown said...

I love your sites. I have a question about the term Austin cars in regard to small cars in cast iron car carriers. When I try to research the name all I get is used car lots. Thank you.

Oskis said...