Morton Converse toy cars wanted (circa 1912)
Let’s keep it simple – Cash Buyer for Morton Converse toy cars. These are great Americana and this site owner would like to add them to his collection. Help out with leads or let us know if you are selling yours!
-From the Winchendon History and Cultural Center Website: winchendonhistory.com
Toy Town Toymaking Industry
It was almost an accident on how Winchendon “Toy Town” became the Toy Capital of America.
Mr. Morton Converse was born in a small country town of Rindge, NH. After he served in the Union Army during the Civil War, he settled down with his family in Winchendon. He started to make some small furniture since he very much enjoyed woodworking. He then started making collar boxes. These were small round wooden boxes used to store men’s paper and cloth collars. Years ago men wore paper collars attached to their shirts
It is supposed that one day in 1878, Morton Converse’s young daughter, Grace, became very ill. Toys were very scarce during those days. Very few manufactured toys were made in America. Most toys were made in Germany and other countries. Toys could only be bought through catalogs, which were too expensive for most people to purchase. Converse could not afford to purchase a toy for his daughter. So he whittled with his pocketknife all night long.
He carved a set of miniature wooden toy dishes. He then had taken an empty round wooden collar box and added little turned legs, making it a miniature tea table to accompany the miniature toy dishes. I am sure he was filled with joy when he saw how his little girl’s eyes lit up, and his daughter overcame her illness.
Mr. Morton Converse was a very creative man who had a deep love for children and wanted to share these new toys and ideas with others. At the factory he started to add little turned legs on the collar boxes and put miniature wooden toy dishes inside these bought by their parents. The fancy collar boxes with the toys inside, was a big hit. They became a big seller and his company grew and grew. That is how Converse started making toys. (See the story book, Converse’ Secret by Deb Giofdano)
He wanted to do more for the children and soon expanded his toy making industry. He made sure the toys had to be inexpensive and of top quality so they could be affordable to all. During that era, toys were only sold during Christmas, but now they could be bought at any time. Converse devoted his life to studying the needs and desires of youngsters at play. He named his company “Converse Toy & Woodware Company” and it grew very large. Converse became wealthy and built a large Red House for his family that even had a bowling alley in it with beautiful Italian Gardens in the back along the riverbanks. Morton was also very generous in donating to beautify the town and to the schools for the children.
In 1893, Converse entered the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Converse received a medal and diploma for being the finest toy-maker in the world! Winchendon soon became the toy capital of America and the world and was eventually nicknamed “Toy Town”.