Volume 4 Issue 10
The Fisher-Price toy is the most recognized names in toy manufacturing. It was founded in 1930 by Herman Fisher, Irving Price, and Helen Schelle. It was not exactly the greatest time to start a new business with the Great Depression in the not too distant past! They brought 16 wooden toys to the International Toy Fair in New York City. That was the beginning of the fascination with Fisher-Price Toys and their longevity.
The first manufacturing plant was located in East Aurora, New York. It served as the main and only facility for the first 20 years of Fisher-Price toys. It still exists today, but was sold in the 1970's due to lack of use.
Fisher-Price was named for Herman Fisher and Irving Price. Herman Fisher previously worked for a manufacturer of games, the FairChild Company. Irving Price worked for the Woolworth Company where he would form the company guideline to run the new company. Helen M. Schelle was the first secretary and treasurer. She previously worked for the Walker Toy Shop, in Binghamton, New York where she developed her skills in retail management. Margaret Evans Price was the company's first artist and designer. She worked as a writer and illustrator for Rand McNally and Harper & Brothers. She also created children's art for Strecher Lithography Company of Rochester, New York. Early post cards, valentines, and children's books can be found today with Margaret's artwork. They are often marked "M.E.P.". Art work for the reproduction of color lithography for the toys can be attributed to Margaret Price. Because of her talent in drawing, she was able to produce designs for early toys and also contributed in the development for Fisher-Price's line of early toys.
When Fisher-Price began making toys, a number was assigned to each toy. The number system began with the Number 5 and went into the thousands. Some of these numbers have been reused on various toys, which makes it difficult for collectors today.
The main wood of construction for Fisher-Price toys was pine due to its abundance and ease of workability. Heavy cardboard was another material used during the 1930's. Brass eyelets were inserted to prevent wear from spinning axles. Bellows were used frequently to produce sound and later the introduction of bells were added to produce sound and action.
A cottage industry was used because of the large amount of time involved in assemblying the toys. Employees, residents, and families of East Aurora were used. The Pop-Up Kritter was completely hand-assembled in area homes.
A mechanical engineer and a freelance designer from the University of Minnesota, Edward Savage created some of Fisher-Price's most successful toys. He created Pop-Up Kritters, Snoopy Sniffer, and other wind-up toys. Snoopy Sniffer, the most popular of the toys he created, was produced from the 1930's to the 1980's, in four different versions.
During World War II, Fisher-Price did its patriotic duty and contributed to making ship fenders, first aid kits, cots, bomb crates, and glider ailerons from 1943-1946. It had the ability to create and produce wood products, which set the basis to make the essential goods.
During that period toy manufacturing was very limited and was only produced on a material availabilty basis. They were usually made from scrap wood with bells and some metal parts painted.
After the war, Fisher-Price set its sights back on normal production. During the 1950's, Ponderosa Pine was used for production because of its durability. Later, wood became more difficult to obtain and the experimentation with plastics began. The first toy to use plastic successfully was "Busy Bee". The ease of molding, bright colors, and durability made the use of plastic in the 1950's more prevalent.
In 1951, Fisher-Price moved to Girard Avenue in East Aurora, New York. There it handled most of its operations until the late 1950's. Tri-Mold of Kenmore, New York bacame a subsidiary of Fisher-Price in 1957. It was a plastics manufacturer.
As time progressed, there was a greater demand for plastics. A new molding facility was built to meet this demand in Holland, New York. It was completed in 1962. It produced most of the plastic parts needed in the construction of the plastic toy lines. Plastics would eventually take over as the main material in most of the Fisher-Price toys.
At the age of 71, Herman Fisher retired as President of Fisher Price Toys. That same year, 1969, Fisher Price Toys was acquired by the Quaker Oats Company
In November, 1993, a merger was approved and Fisher-Price became a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel. In 1997, Mattel acquired Tyco Toys and Fisher-Price became the umbrella brand over Mattel's infant and pre-school line of toys.
Fisher-Price is considered to be one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of toys and is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year. Its headquarters is in East Aurora, New York.
MARKS & DATING:
This Old Toy
To view some examples of the many Fisher-Price Toys:
Fisher Price Toys
Did you know that Fisher-Price Toys once strolled with Miss America contestants and had a cameo role with actor/movie star James Cagney?
Fisher Price Toys
Collecting Toys No.6-Richard O'Brien
This Old Toy
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The Next Newsletter will feature Thanksgiving Collectibles .
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