Jennifer McKendry©

photographs and drawings by Jennifer McKendry© 

home page                  Canadian toys                 Nerlich toys                Schoenhut toys    


Modern toys have two major differences that set them apart from antique ones: plastics and children. Plastics have replaced toys of wood, papier-mâché, iron, tin, china, rubber, celluloid (an early form of plastic, invented in 1869 and appearing in toy catalogues by 1893) and aluminum (in toy catalogues c1900). Children, in the case of antique toys, are replaced by the adult collector. However, the toys were originally manufactured for children who could peruse them in mail order catalogues or in the local general store.


toy84.jpg (89582 bytes)













The Toy Shop, December 1860, Godey's Lady's Book, p. 516
















 Although by the late 19th century toys were being mass produced in factories, there was a considerable amount of hand-finishing, and it seems amazing that they could have been sold for so little by the retailer.












 Printed in tiny letters on the side of this horse and cart is,” Copyright 1910 Gibbs Mfg. Co.”. This product was advertised in the 1912 Sears Roebuck and Company catalogue under Gibbs’ Celebrated Quality Toys. It is described as a “Pony Pacer, Only Cents. Length, 7 in.; Height, 3½ inches. Natural pacing gait. All moving parts in metal. Nicely painted in colors. Shipping wt, 7 oz….Price 9c.” The decoration on the horse’s body is actually lithographed in color on paper which is then glued to either side of a thin cut-out piece of wood. Metal wires connect the tin legs which will move as the child manipulates it. Metal pieces also can be inserted into the appropriate places in the bright-red tin cart with its gold-coloured large wheels.



With a miscellaneous collection of “cheaper articles”, the Marshall Field Toy Catalogue of 1892-93 included an illustration of the tin dog on wheels (below right). The tin is moulded to give the texture of his shaggy coat which is painted yellow. In his red mouth he holds a basket for his master who can pull him by a string attached through a hole in the green base with its four wheels. The overall length is 6½” and the height 5”.























Only two inches high, this miniature pitcher is one of a pair made in Bennington, Vermont. There from 1847 to 1858 Christopher Fenton persuaded his father-in-law, Captain John Norton, who had founded the pottery in1793, to experiment in producing porcelain and Parian ware. (These were usually confined to production in Europe. ) The white jug has an unglazed moulded body with a floral and gadrooning pattern in relief. The smooth bands around the body are hand — painted in red. The handle is applied in a glazed spiral pattern. 






toy5.jpg (48819 bytes)

The roaring lion was the fierce guardian of the pennies saved by his master. It was advertised (below) by the American wholesalers, Butler Brothers, in 1914: “6 STYLES. IRON BANK ASSORTMENT. Wonderfully big sellers. Models that will please the wee customers.. . . 5 x 3¾, gilt rooster, camel, lion and bull dog; grey elephant with blanket and saddle; black horse, red, silver and gilt decorated. Asstd. 1 dozen in box Doz. 85c. Gro. $9.75." Original banks are shown here but these have been reproduced in the last decades and a buyer is forced to be suspicious of many examples now on the market.





From 1894 to 1914 the catalogues push horses on wheeled platforms. These were probably made in Germany, one of the most prolific centres of toy manufacturing. A typical description is given in the 1914 Butlers’ Brothers wholesale catalogue: “IMPORTED PAPIER MACHE HORSES. Modelled dapple bodies, wood legs, woolly manes and tails, bridles, coloured saddles or bands. On 4 wheel Platforms. . . 7 x 6½ - 1 dozen in box. . . doz. 82c” or “6 x 6½, asst’d. dapple grey, black and bay horses, white fur manes, hair tails, enamelled bridles, saddles, felt blankets, varnished platforms, 1 dozen in box.. . doz. 95c.” In this period the toy horse is feeling stiff competition from the automobile which will eventually supersede it, as toys tend to mirror the changes in adult society. 


toy11.jpg (72965 bytes)



























Dollhouse furniture generally avoided imaginative caprices and stuck to imitating real furniture. Hence, the 6¼ inch sofa is a carefully scaled model of a popular Rococo revival adult-counterpart. Every button is pressed into the green upholstery; however, in this case, cast carefully in iron. The sofa is part of a large parlour set, patented in 1867. (See also an article on the history of dollhouses and their furnishings 1890-1990 on this website - link at bottom of this page.)


(An original set is shown above but collectors should be aware that this set, including a table and stool, was reproduced c1960s.)






The Montgomery Ward and Co. catalogue of 1903 advertised the four-inch high armchair: “Doll’s Japanese Furniture Set made of bamboo, with imitation cane seats; consisting of table, 2 dining chairs, 2 arm chairs, and one davenport, shipping weight. 6 oz. Per set . . . 25c.”



below The chairs, davenport and table  are from three different sets, c1900. The maid taking her break is made from bisque, c1870, with her original uniform (likely German); the dog is painted metal (likely German); the flower pot is wood c1930; the swan rug is needlepoint from Quebec, c1870; the dollhouse is "the Bobbi," an Artply kit, New York, c1970s.




toy3.jpg (71022 bytes)



This Noah’s Ark has lost the craftsmanship quality of 19th century ones. The sides are poorly nailed together and the decoration crudely stencilled on the sides. The boat concept had been reduced to a thin board, pointed at each end. The animals are tiny and too poorly shaped to stand by themselves. However, what could one expect for l0 cents? The 1912 Sears Roebuck and Co. painted a more glowing picture: “Painted in bright colors to represent doors, windows, shingles, etc. First class arks. The animals are all hand carved and painted in different colors. . . . Our 10- cent Ark. Size, 11½ x 3¼ x 4½ inches. Consists of twenty painted -animals. Shipping weight, 1 pound. Price . . . l0c.”  


















As we move into the 21st century, there is an increasing interest in “modern” plastic toys manufactured from the mid 1940s. Now a half century or more in age, mass-produced toys take on a nostalgic interest for collectors who may have played with them as a child. There are also the factors of wanting something that is no longer made and completing a collection.

















Reliable Plastics Company, Toronto, made this dollhouse "hard plastic" furniture in the early 1950s. (Side-chair 2 inches high.) While some designs were particular to the Reliable Company, others - especially kitchen and bathroom items - were made from the moulds of the American Ideal Company by special licensing agreement. Ideal made plastic dollhouse furniture from 1947 into the early 1950s.







toy7.jpg (69437 bytes)


Celluloid Toys


Plastics, developed for popular use after World War Two, replaced celluloid -- a thin brittle material in widespread use after about 1890. This moulded and painted goose and swan are typical examples from the early 20th century. The floating baby swan, sold in a set of six costing 39 cents in the 1919 Sears Roebuck & Co. catalogue, is 1½ inches long


















toy21.jpg (74236 bytes)




Cast Iron Wood Stoves for Cooking






Advertisement (Marshall Fields) from 1892 showing the Pet, probably made by an American manufacturer, either Ideal or Kenton, 7 inches high.










Many toy stoves, cast in iron, have survived but the collector has to be wary of reproductions.




The Queen (left), 3 inches high, shows the patina of wear and age with remnants of the original paint picking up certain details. A version, usually finished in flat black paint, was reproduced in the 1960s, along with many pots and pans, seen in the upper left corner of this advertisement (below) from the 1970s for reproduction toy stoves (including a combined bank and stove "cook with gas" in the bottom left corner).



                                                                       1970stoy37.jpg (72349 bytes)



below left Typical toy stoves - the Jewel (made in Detroit) - from the 1892 Marshall Field catalogue, USA. Toy wood stoves were still being advertised in the 1930s despite the growing popularity of gas and electricity models. Below right  a wood stove, the Eagle (by Hubley), from the Sears Roebuck catalogue of 1926. Sizes range from 11.25 in. high to 6.65 in. with decreasing elaboration in the smallest version.



toy14.jpg (66129 bytes)


                                  1892                                                                                                     1926



Below: The white enamelled, iron Eagle Gas Stove, as shown in the Sears Roebuck catalogue of 1926, Chicago, USA. The most elaborate version was illustrated, 9.25 in. high, whereas a simpler version, photographed with the oven door open and closed, is only 4.25 in. high. The stove maker was Hubley Manufacturing Company of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The bottom of the copper  kettle is made from an English farthing dated 1924. The bucket is painted wood, likely Strombecker of Moline, Illinois, early 1930s.























toy38.jpg (47448 bytes)








1930 Butlers Brothers catalogue

















toy33.jpg (56238 bytes)



Batchelor, Thomas; Flamborough East ON; 1871

Beaver Toy Manufacturing Company, Toronto, c1914 – c1918

Belleville Hardware and Lock Manufacturing Company, Belleville

Berlin Novelty Works, 1899

Canadian Toys Ltd, Hamilton, 1920 – 1929

Cheerio Toys & Games, Toronto, 1940s

Coleman Fare Box Company, Toronto

Consolidated Rubber Company, Toronto

Cosgrove and Company, Berlin [Kitchener ON], 1890-91

Cridiford, John, Kingston, 1865

Dominion Toy Manufacturing Company, Toronto, 1911 – 1934

Martineau, Edouard A.; Montreal; 1876 – 1914

Gendron Maufacturing Company, Toronto, 1890 – 1970s

Hastings and Peterkin Company, Toronto, 1871

Ideal Bedding Company, Toronto

Leslie and Garden Company, Toronto, 1871

Macdonald Manufacturing Company, Toronto, 1917 – 1942

Manual Construction Company, Toronto

Lindner, Moritz; Berlin [Kitchener ON]; by 1881 – (see also Morris Lintner)

Lintner, Morris; Berlin [Kitchener ON]; 1871 (see also Moritz Lindner)

Reliable Plastics Company, Toronto

T.C. Brandon Company, Toronto, 1880 – 1890

Thomas Davidson Manufacturing Company, Toronto

Toy Soldier Novelty Company, Kitchener, c1914                                                             



(by date)

1865, Cridiford, John, Kingston

1871, Hastings and Peterkin Company, Toronto

1871, Ideal Bedding Company, Toronto

1871, Morris Lintner; Kitchener (Berlin) ON (same person as Mositz Lindner?)

1876 – 1914, Edouard A. Martineau, Montreal

1880 – 1890, T.C. Brandon Company, Toronto

by 1881 – , Moritz Lindner, Berlin [Kitchener ON]

Drawing of a model horse from Mortiz Lindner's patent of 1885 toy36.jpg (52235 bytes)

1890-91, Cosgrove and Company, Berlin

1890 – 1970s, Gendron Maufacturing Company, Toronto

1899, Berlin Novelty Works

1911 – 1934, Dominion Toy Manufacturing Company, Toronto

1920 – 1929, Canadian Toys Ltd, Hamilton

c1914 – c1918, Beaver Toy Manufacturing Company, Toronto

c1914 – c1918, Toy Soldier Novelty Company, Kitchener

1917 – 1942, Macdonald Manufacturing Company, Toronto

1940s, Cheerio Toys & Games, Toronto


Belleville Hardware and Lock Manufacturing Company, Belleville

Coleman Fare Box Company, Toronto

Consolidated Rubber Company, Toronto

Leslie and Garden Company, Toronto,

Manual Construction Company, Toronto

Reliable Plastics Company, Toronto

Thomas Davidson Manufacturing Company, Toronto

toy85.jpg (112056 bytes)


(from Lovell’s Business & Professional Directory 1896-7)

Baker, Mrs. Annie, 252 Yonge, Toronto

Chisholm, Mrs. E., 185 Parliament, Toronto

Cosgrove, Wm, Berlin [Kitchener ON]

Couture, J.D., 212 St Lawrence, Montreal

Depatie, Augustin, 1403 St Catherine, Montreal

Dunham, C. F., Digby, NS

Eaton, The, John Co., Ltd., 132-338 Yonge, Toronto

Eaton, The, T.C. Co., 190 Yonge, Toronto

Gendron Mfg. Co., The; manufacturers of bicycles, 1910 Notre Dame, Montreal

Glover, James, 318 Queen E., Toronto

Grant W.H., 124 Park Ave, Montreal

Gratton J.G., 1518 St Catherine, Montreal

Holland, Geo. A. & Sons, 2411 St Catherine, Montreal

Keohan, Thomas H, Moncton NB

Lafleur, Isidore, Rachel; Montreal

Lendrum, George W., toys and telegraph agent, Gananoque ON

Lussier, Miss, Sorel QC

Magasin Populaire de 7 Cents, Zenophile Moussette, prop., 59 de la Couronne, Quebec

Martineau, Ed. Alfred, 1899 Notre Dame, Montreal

McAdam, Mrs. W., 236 Wellington, Ottawa         

McCallum, R.N., 2227 St Catherine, Montreal

McKendry & Co., John N., departmental store, 202 to 210 Yonge, Toronto

Morse, Mrs. B., Digby NS

Moussette, J.N. & Co., 1103 St Lawrence, Montreal

Nelson, H.A. & Sons, 63 St Peter, Montreal

Nerlich & Co., 35 front West, Toronto (see description below)

Peloquin, Mrs. 0., 1590 St Catherine, Montreal

Perrault, Jos. B., 1133 St Lawrence, Montreal

Prebble, Mrs. R.H., Dresden ON

Rockwell & Co., Wolfville NS

Roy, F. X., 2327 Notre Dame, Montreal

Simpson, Robert, 170 to 178 Yonge, Toronto

Stephen, Geo., 99 Bleury, Montreal

Walker, Robert & Sons, 13-43 King E., Toronto

Wray, A., Rodney ON



Toronto, Ontario, Canada

toy55.jpg (47418 bytes)

toy75.jpg (64131 bytes)

Henry Nerlich (1828-1901), the company's founder (left), was born in Prussia and died in Dresden, Germany. He emigrated to Toronto, Canada, in 1848 to work as a watchmaker. Ten years later, he began to import German goods, a trade continued after his death by three of his sons, Emil (born 1870), Henry (born 1872) and Hermann (born 1879).

toy52.jpg (60453 bytes)








In 1861, Henry stocked a few lines of German fancy china, toys and dolls, which "sold readily" and were "a decided novelty in Toronto then" (quoting from the catalogue of 1908-09). At first he sailed once a year to Germany to order and acquire stock but, in 1865, he decided it was more efficient to establish a branch in Germany (initially  in Torgau, Prussia1865-70; then 1870-1903 in Dresden; and after 1903 in Berlin), as this office could attend to shipping goods promptly to Canada. Over time, the company name changed from Henry Nerlich to H. Nerlich & Co. to Nerlich, Backer & Co. and, after 1875, to Nerlich & Co. The need for an ever-expanding storage space and business quarters involved a number of moves in Toronto -- resulting, in 1900, in the building of a new headquarters at 146-148 Front St West (enlarged in 1904 and 1907). This expansion was necessitated by changing from a Toronto and area base to wholesaling throughout Ontario, then throughout the Maritimes (after 1891) and finally throughout the West (after 1902) including the North-West Territories. Salesmen covered Quebec working from bases and sample rooms in Montreal (after 1901) and Quebec City (after 1902).

At first, goods were exclusively imported from Germany but, by 1908, also from England, France, Austria, United States and Japan. In addition, Canadian goods were purchased for resale.

toy54.jpg (84064 bytes)




"Our Warehouse in Toronto is situated at 146-148 Front Street West, directly opposite the Union Station."



toy53.jpg (63377 bytes)













Below are general views from the 1908-1909 catalogue.

(Selected individual pages on toys can be accessed by a link placed at the end of these views)


toy56.jpg (93674 bytes)

Dolls and doll carriages in the Montreal sample rooms, 1908


toy57.jpg (110132 bytes)

Teasets, stuffed animals, horses and sleighs in the Montreal sample rooms, 1908


toy62.jpg (98527 bytes)

Mechanical toy display, 1908 -- trains and accessories on the table with automobiles on the top shelf


toy61.jpg (117705 bytes)

Imported toys, 1908 -- trains, fire engines, ships, board games, dolls, animals


toy59.jpg (105326 bytes)

Dressed dolls with wigs, each in a cardboard box, 1908


toy60.jpg (108905 bytes)

Jointed and kid body dolls, 1908


toy58.jpg (106429 bytes)

American and Canadian-made toys, novelities, toy books, juvenile books, games, children's wheel goods and sleighs, 1908


N.B. -- for selected individual pages of toys from the Nerlich catalogue of 1908-1908, please click here: NERLICH CATALOGUE

toy53.jpg (30477 bytes)



Philadelphia, PA, USA

toy40.jpg (115556 bytes)

Founded in 1872 to manufacture toy pianos, by the time of this catalogue of c1920 (not dated but likely c1917-c1923), a wide variety of toys were being mass produced in their factory in Philadelphia PA. Patriotism was bursting at the seams in ttoy39.jpg (45527 bytes)heir claim to make "toys superior to imported toys from Foreign Counties" -- perhaps wanting to distance themselves from troubles overseas with the oubreak and aftermath of World War One. Indeed, normal trading relationships with Germany, the leading toy manufacturer, were disrupted due to the war, permitting American manufacturers to pick up the slack. The original company became bankrupt in 1934, although two other "Schoenhut" companies were established thereafter.

This link  SCHOENHUT takes you to images from an original Schoenut toy catalogue. It is composed of 4 pages, each 11 x 13½ inches, which had to be scanned in sections and in a resolution enabling the type to be legible but not too onerous to download. To return to this article on toys, use the "back" command on your tool bar.



toy41.jpg (61508 bytes)

for more on Schoenhut dollhouses, see the history of dollhouses 1930s-part_2



PUGSLEY DINGMAN & CO., manufacturer of Comfort Soap

UNDATED but likely from the early 1930s

toy88.jpg (122490 bytes)

toy87.jpg (131494 bytes)

toy86.jpg (123872 bytes)

top of page                home page         antiques (list of internal links to articles on antiques)  

history of dollhouses & furnishings 1890-1990       for farms, schools, shops, etc., see GALLERY OF IMAGES 3