Kenton Toys and Heavy Dray aka Stake Wagon
This particular Two Horse wagon has been quite a challenge to look-up and define in detail. The reason being, Kenton had two periods of producing cast iron horse toys– one from the 1900’s to about the 1940’s, then another less detailed production in the 1950’s. The plethora of variants takes time to sift through. Then there was Utexiqual….
The wagon shown here was a very nice find at a local market. The previous owner specializes in war memorabilia, but has always had an eye for early toys. He decided to let this treasure go. As always, when you are looking for toys, you often find what you weren’t looking for. New surprises await every time; this wasn’t something I expected to find locally.
Kenton Toys, just like their moniker, were made in Kenton, Ohio, U.S.A. According to the Ohio Memory Collection, the Kenton Hardware Company was promoted as “the largest factory in the USA exclusively making cast iron toys” at the turn of the twentieth century. One of Hardin County’s largest employers, the factory produced a variety of toys that were miniature versions of fire engines, circus wagons, carriages, banks, trains, and stoves. The toys were made between 1898 and 1952.
Lynne Belluscio in the Le Roy Pennysaver, March 13, 2011 writes more on the back history and places the toy manufacturing a bit earlier “It was founded in 1890 by F. M Perkins and at first it was known as the Kenton Lock Manufacturing Company. Perkins was interested in a factory to make his patented refrigerator locks and for a while used a factory at a nearby site at the Forbins Scroll Mill in Kenton. The manufacture of toys began in 1894 but because there was patent disputes with some of the toy designs, the company changed its name from the Kenton Lock Manufacturing Company to the Kenton Hardware Manufacturing Company. In 1903, Kenton became part of the National Novelty Corporation and it continued its line of toys under the name of Wing Manufacturing.”
There were several unsuccessful takeover attempts, but the company survived as a separate unit of the Kenton Hardware Company and manufactured toys from 1920 until 1935. Only 10 per cent of their toys were ever marked and early Kenton toys were never marked. The circus wagon is marked on the horse hitch, but the fire wagon is only marked “made in USA.” In 1927 most of the company’s toys were horse drawn but that soon changed. The first automotive toys appeared in 1923….” The first series of horse toys were phased out.
After at least fifteen years, horse related toys were reintroduced, and cast in new molds; they had fewer details and simplified smooth lines. Like with this Dray toy, newer horse variations don’t have the detailed mane, new wagons don’t have as many stakes, newer drivers had fewer hand painted details and lacked details versus the first production run from the early century.
Kenton ceased production in 1952 and assets were sold in 1953. Collectors can find yet a third variation of horse related toys which came from late period Kenton toy molds. The Littlestown Hardware & Foundry acquired many Kenton toy designs and marketed them under the brand “Utexiqual” 1953 to 1982. Littlestown folded in 1982. Utexiqual made their own designs to compliment the former Kenton toys like bowling, golf (birdie), fishing, and sailing banks.
My personal finding with the Utexiqual horse toys was that the molds were almost used up, so edges aren’t as crisp. The older toys were often smoothed with another step of tumbling and Utexiqual seems to have cut the tumbling time; surfaces have more of a gritty, sandy surface than the earlier versions. Then after inspecting photos, you can see most drivers of Utexiqual teams tended to be simple castings as compared to the more detailed older versions.
With all of this back history, here is what we have in this Dray– An early Kenton, 1940 stake truck dray #3306. Production was run, based on catalogs for just this one year and wasn’t resumed; no Utexiqual version was made either. In this rendition there were one and two horse variants. This was the deluxe two horse variation. It is also worth noting that Arcade, Wilkins, and other domestic makers had a similar toy, but most are smaller in size and they often have more of an arch to the wagon bed.
As I type this, we all know there is new research data to add, so please feel free to write in. Then enjoy your toy research too & Happy Toy Hunting!
Comments are closed, you may contact us using any of the methods in the "Contact Us" link above. We look forward to hearing from you!