Milton Bradley -- Still one of the major manufacturers of educational toys, the Milton Bradley Company was established in 1860 in, Springfield, Massachusetts. Bradley, who was influenced by the German educator Friedrich Froebel, introduced a Checkered Game of Life in the 1860s and a Kindergarten Alphabet in the 1870s. Other educational toys included building blocks with numerals and animals, painting and crayon sets, lithographed sheets of paper that could be formed into three-dimensional villages, and even novel optical devices that gave the impression of moving pictures, such as the historo-scope and the Wheel of Life. Since this early period, the company has produced thousands of board and card games, puzzles, and educational construction toys.
Converse -- Morton E. Converse joined with Orlando Mason in 1878 to manufacture wooden toys and utensils under the company name of Mason & Converse. When Mason withdrew from the partnership in 1884, the prospering business was renamed Morton E. Converse Company. Turning into a manufacturer of metal toys, automobiles, trains, planes and numerous other playthings. By 1903 their huge factories in Winchendon, Massachusetts, were producing an enormous number of toys, including rocking horses, doll trunks, and drums. By 1915 the firm was turning out more than 3,000 toys in various styles and sizes, and Winchendon became known as Toy Town, U.S.A. In 1931 the firm was purchased by the Mason Manufacturing Company of South Paris, Maine.
Charles M. Crandall -- About 1867 Charles Crandall took over the woodworking shop of his father, in Covington, Pennsylvania, and gradually shifted the firm's emphasis to toy making. In 1875 he moved the growing firm to Montrose, Pennsylvania, and in 1888 to Waverly, New York. Many of the company's toys featured components with interlocking tongue-and-groove joints that allowed them to form scores of figures. Especially popular were the Acrobats and Treasure Box. Other products included blocks, puzzles, and games.
Dent -- Henry H. Dent formed the Dent Hardware Company in Fullerton, Pennsylvania, in 1895, and produced his first cast-iron toys in 1898. The firm made horse-drawn fire wagons, carriages, trains, farm wagons, boats, and some still banks; and, later, motorized fire trucks, automobiles, planes, tractors, and buses, including the Toonerville Trolley, based on a popular comic strip. During the 1900s, Dent's die-cast toys gradually replaced those of cast iron.
Hubley -- Founded by John Hubley in about 1894 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Hubley Manufacturing Company made cast iron toys. Its earliest products were trains and trolleys powered by live steam, electricity, or spring mechanisms. Hubley produced stoves and still banks beginning in 1909. It later added horse-drawn fire fire and circus wagons, cap pistols, trucks, cars, motorcycles, and, in the 1920s, dollhouse kitchen appliances. By 1940 Hubley had become the world's largest manufacturer of cast-iron toys. Increasing freight charges and foreign competition made the company switch to die-cast toys of a zinc alloy. Hubley was acquired by Gabriel Industries in 1965 and now produces die-cast zinc and plastic toys as well as hobby kits.
Ideal -- Founded by a Russian immigrant couple in Brooklyn, New York, Rose and Morris Michtom, founded the Ideal Novelty & Toy Company to produce Teddy Bears. They were inspired by a cartoon in The Washington Post showing President Teddy Roosevelt on a hunting trip refusing to shoot a bear cub. Rose created two appealing stuffed toy bears, and Morris, who owned a novelty store, displayed them in the window. These bears, with their jointed arms, legs, and heads, soon became one of America's all-round favorites. Between 1903 and 1906, the Michtoms made most of the domestic bears on the market. By 1907 the demand for Teddy Bears was so great that they closed their store to run the company. Ideal now ranks among the nation's top producers of stuffed toys and dolls.
Ives -- One of the most famous toy manufacturers, E. R. Ives & Company produced high-quality versions of virtually every kind of toy. "Ives Toys Make Happy Boys" boasted the firms logo after 1900. The company was founded by Edward R. Ives in Plymouth, Connecticut, in 1868, but after two years moved to Bridgeport. During its sixty-year history, the firm went through seven name changes, always including Ives in the title. Although the company offered a broad range of toys, including movable tinplate figures and cast-iron cars, it became best known for its trains -- both windup ones and electrified models, which Ives pioneered. The company established the 0 gauge as a popular track measurement. Ives went bankrupt in 1929, and Lionel took it over, but retained the Ives name until 1931.
Kenton -- In 1894 the four- year-old Kenton Lock Manufacturing Company of Kenton, Ohio, became Kenton Hardware and began producing cast-iron toys and still banks. The firm was known for its horse-drawn vehicles, fire engines, planes, nodding toys, and comic strip characters. It even made a toy hot-air engine around 1925. Kenton marked the end of Prohibition in the early 1930s with a horse-drawn beer truck. In the 1940s the firm introduced a series called the Overland Circus. The musical Oklahoma inspired a version of the "Surrey with the Fringe on Top" marketed in 1952. Kenton used the trade name "Kentontoys."
Lionel -- The Lionel Manufacturing Company, founded in 1903 in New York City by Joshua Lionel Cowen, was renamed the Lionel Corporation in 1918. By 1920 the company was one of three major American producers of model electric trains and railroad accessories. Lionel trains were known for their use of a third rail and transformer, available as early as 1906, which enabled a child to control the train and to operate attachments. Lionel absorbed Ives in 1931 and Gilbert (American Flyer) in 1968. After 1953 the company went into steep decline, paralleling that of the American railroad industry, and closed in 1969. Fundimensions, a Michigan subsidiary of General Mills, now reproduces replicas of many of the 1950s models.
Marx -- Louis Marx founded his own toy firm, Louis Marx & Company, in New York City in 1921 after an argument with his employer, "Toy King" Ferdinand Strauss. When Strauss sold his business the following year, Marx bought some of the molds. The Marx firm mass-produced almost every kind of toy except dolls, selling its inexpensive toys in variety stores and by mail. Many products were made of lithographed tinplate. Among its best-known items are various windup toys, including an elaborate scene of mice performing around a piano (the Marx Merrymakers). trains, planes, and screen and comic-strip characters. After World War II, Marx produced plastic toys and became the largest toy manufacturer in the world. The company was sold to DunbeeCombex-Marx, Europe's largest toy manufacturer, in 1976. Marx used "Marx," "Marline," "Joy Line," and "Lumar" as trade names.
Reed -- Known for its wooden toys, the W. S. Reed Toy Company was founded in Leominster, Massachusetts, in 1875. The firm manufactured a large variety of pull toys and construction sets, many with colorful lithographed paper decorations, such as the clipper ship Ocean Waves (1877), a toy circus wag-on with two horses (1878), a Mammoth Hippodrome circus with acrobats, ringmaster, clowns, and horses activated by a hand crank (1880), and a realistic-looking U.S. Capitol construction set (1884). In 1883 Reed received a patent for a cast-iron mechanical bank of the Old Lady in the Shoe. Reed was sold in 1897, and in 1898 it became the Whitney Reed Chair Company. The toys were marked with the name "W, S. Reed Toy Company" and the patent date, either on the box or on a paper label on the toy itself.
Moline (Buddy "L") -- Fred A. Lundahl founded the Moline Pressed Steel Company in East Moline, Illinois, in 1910. It originally produced steel parts for trucks and farm equipment. In the 1920s the firm began making steel toys, at first toy trucks and later fire engines, cars, trains, and construction vehicles. The trade name of these toys, Buddy "L," came from the name of Lundahl's son. The company still exists today, but over the years the name has changed to the Buddy "L" Corporation and the Buddy "L" Toy Company, and lately the quotation marks around the "L" have been deleted.