Hobbyists talk toys at Kelso House Nancy and Bill Paulus share collection of American playthings

Chad Dryden Published:

Toy hobbyists Nancy and Bill Paulus of Kent recently entertained 25 members and guests of the Brimfield Memorial House Association with a program on antique toys at the Kelso House in Brimfield.

The program, which was a chronological narrative on American toys supplemented by a sampling of the Paulus toy collection, began the BMHAs Lyceum Series, which runs now through April.

The Pauluses told the crowd that some of the first American toys were dolls and harpoons of the North American Eskimos. They noted that in the mid-1700s, toys were brought into the New World from England and the Netherlands. The appearance of doll houses in America was seen as early as 1744, while glass toys appeared around 1768. They stated that about half of all toys valuable in America around 1900 were imported from Germany.

By 1850, 47 toy makers were listed by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Pauluses said. Most toys were made from woodcrafters scraps. By 1870, Charles Crandall was famous for his wooden blocks, which were plain at first and later made with embellishments. The Milton Bradley Toy Company also became a noted toy manufacturer. Soon the Ives Co. began to make wind-up toys. At this time, the use of cast iron became very popular for the American toy companies. By 1890, 173 toy companies existed in America with that number ballooning to 500 by 1900.

The Pauluses brought several toys to share from their collection, including hill climbers, automobiles, tin wind-ups, tin tea pieces, airplanes and boats. Several toys presented were from the A.C. Williams Co. of Ravenna.

Nancy said her favorite piece from their collection is an A.C. Williams Co. auto carrier with three cars, while Bill said his favorite is a 1926 Kelmet Big Boy Truck.

Many items from the Pauluses collection are available for sale at the Antique Mall in Rootstown.

Refreshments at the program were provided by BMHA trustee Judy Hendershot.

The next Lyceum Series event will take place at 7 p.m. March 7 in the Heritage Room of the Kelso House. Local author Marilyn Seguin will discuss events in Ohio history.

The BMHA programs are free and open to the public.

The Kelso House, located at 4158 S.R. 43 in Brimfield, is open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays or by appointment by calling (330) 673-1058 or (330) 673-0577.

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