Long lost toys and forgotten toy companies excite us. We love learning. Rarely do we find toys that haven’t been mentioned before in our catalogs; or books; or auction records. Seldomly do we unearth companies based in the US with a substantial toy lineup.
Here we found a grand slam– we found an electric toy company known as Yankee Toy Manufacturing Co and received one of their tremendous toys. Thank you to our elevator company contact for the find, and we get the ship to go with the story.
As we understand things, an Indiana elevator needed service and that led to the find. The technician contacted us and told us of a large boat he found upstairs. It had sat on the building owner’s desk up toy for decades, and the technician was able to purchase it and bring it home.
Pictures above show the pre-1910 configuration of the U.S.S. Oregon and then the “Yankee Mfg. Co” and Yankee Fleet sticker.
This “attic” find was marked and built in Cleveland Ohio. Wow, electric powered toys at their most primitive!
Deck guns and turrets are relatively shiny and, believe it or not, aluminum. Railing, rudder, props, and lifeboats are a sturdy brass. The massive 36″ long hull is pine wood with a thick and original red and grey paint. Towers are wood for the observation tower and steel for the rear lattice (a 1910 upgrade for smoke stacks).
We were able to even find an article in a 1915 Electrical World magazine documenting this exact “Yankee Fleet” toy and maker. Stickers on the deck also confirm the maker and details. Oregon is still emblazoned on the stern, miraculously surviving 105 years of time.
Electrical World to document this toy better- Vol 66 No 22. Inside and on page 1244 we see that Yankee Manufacturing Company produced a “Lake Freighter in Miniature” as well as an “Electric Motorboat Model” Both toys fly the American flags and have scale detailing like a speedboat canvas top and two tone freighter hull. The article notes that “The Rose Manufacturing Company [Stickered Yankee Manufacturing due to renaming. We note this as a different company than Rosebud aka Rose Art of New Jersy], Rockefeller Building, Cleveland Ohio, is making what it calls the “Yankee fleet” electrically propelled boats, models of a motorboat, freighter and battleship…… motors are operated on one or two dry cells. By setting the rudders the boats may be propelled in any direction desired. The boats are of well-seasoned white pine and are finished in oil paint of various colors. The motorboat is 36″ long, 5.75″ wood and has a draft of 2 in. The ocean trawler or lake freighter is patterned after an typical freighter and will carry a cargo. It is 36″ long, 5.75″ wide and has a draft of 2 in. The battleship is modeled after the famous U.S.S. Oregon and is provided with movable turrets and guns and operated by twin screws. The length is 36″ and width 9.7 in.”
Below deck we see turn of the century motors with massive windings and cast metal housings. Two heavy gauge leads would attach to dry cells for power. Below is the inner hull with room for two dry cells (and metal lever/ switch just off frame near the motors).
Please let us know if you have additional information on this maker or other toys. We would love to purchase and see the other lineup in person. Send details and catalogs/scans/data please to help us to Toys@AntiqueToys.com .