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Mine!

Skater Doll is mine! Yes, it's a Twinzy Toy.


Skater Doll, photo from William H. Bunch auction catalog
Skater Doll, photo from William H. Bunch auction catalog
This Twinzy Toy was part of the inventory from the Yellow Brick Road Doll and Toy Museum sold at auction during the summer of 2008 after museum owners Dorothy and Steve Tancraitor retired. It is the second Twinzy Toy I've found thanks to the internet and the first Twinzy pull toy in my small collection.

You may be wondering just what heck a Twinzy Toy is. Well, unless you've been to my basement Toy Room or remember my past mentions of my great-aunts and the Twinzy Toy Company they ran in a corner of their father's tag factory in Battle Creek, Michigan, in which case your memory has already told you why I'm so delighted with this addition to my collection.

Blanche and Bernice Squier -- Auntie Blanche and Auntie Bun -- started the Twinzy Toy Company in 1918. Yes, they were identical twins. They started making dolls and selling them to friends just before they went to college. They completed their freshman year, then decided that there was enough demand for their dolls that they would start selling them commercially instead of returning to school. That was the end of their college education, and the beginning of business that ran for roughly 35 years. They had a trade show booth at the New York Toy Fair for years, and Twinzy Toys were sold in department and toy stores nationwide. Marshall Field's was one of their many customers.

In the last 45 years, I've found mention of Twinzy Toys in two books on antique toys. One just had the name in a list of toy makers, the other showed one of their ads from a trade publication. Until today, I hadn't seen a Twinzy Toy for sale in any shop or auction since the bank auction at 149/151 Fremont Street in the early 1960s. I lucked into the opportunity to buy Pandora, a Twinzy Toy cat, last summer when a person looking for information on Twinzy Toys found a past LJ post of mine via Google, so, yes, there are at least a few out there. Given the quantities sold, I'm surprised I haven't run across more.

Then again, I haven't been searching that hard. I've been keeping my eyes open in antiques shops and more. I visit toy museums as I stumbled across them, and found myself hoping that I'd see one among the thousands of antique toys at The Moose Tracks Museum at Lark Toys in Kellogg, Minnesota when Jeff and I went there for a Sunday afternoon adventure back in 1999. Nope, no Twinzy Toys, but I was glad to find and buy the replica Cape Canaveral Missle Base. Shooting those rockets off is fun!

Internet searches over the years have pointed to one of my LJ posts and nothing else...until this week.

Even with that rarity, I wasn't going to bid on Skater Doll. I was delighted to see the picture, and was going to watch the auction to see what it went for, but paying down existing debt will be at the top of my discretionary income priority list for years to come, and even that comes after paying current bills before they have a chance to move onto the mountain of long-term debt that comes with another mountain of interest charges. Yes, I'll treat myself with something fun from time to time, but my overall position is one of selling stuff, not buying more.

What happened? As with so many other good things made possible, I have a Ben in my life, and that is a very good thing, indeed. We worked out a bidding strategy; if it proved to be the winning one, Skater Doll would be my birthday present.

And so it is. Skater Doll is mine!

The adventure even has its own lagniappe. I called minnehaha K. for eBay bidding advice. The situation was complicated by this being a live auction, and I'm an eBay novice to boot. It turns out that her friend, the Queen of PEZland, lives near Chadds Ford, PA, where the auction was being held. K. and Amy have been antiquing there!

The auction house doesn't do their own shipping. If the timing works out, Amy will pick up Skater Doll from them and ship it my way. If not, I'll use the commercial shipper used by many other auction house customers. I hope Skater Doll visits Amy's PEZ collection on its way to me, but it's a win just to be back in touch with her.

The auction notice sent me searching. Much to my surprise, I found Laura Adams recent post about visiting Quaker Park in the Northside Irregular. The park includes the land where the tag and toy factory stood, and her report includes a photo of a Twinzy Toy Historical Marker I didn't know was there! Like most historical markers, it contains an error or two. "They lie like hell" was how my father put it when I read the text to him over the phone. But this post is already long, so I'll leave the details of that for another time.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
dinogrl
Jun. 28th, 2008 08:11 pm (UTC)
Congratulations! Yes, I know what it is like to collect antique toys. Although my obsession isn't quite as rare as yours. I have three antique Schoenhut pianos. I got them relatively cheap except for the large upright with stool. I decided that three was plenty for me. I always wanted to go to Philly on a buying trip to see if there were more, as that was the place of manufacture. Instead I went to Philly to a Worldcon instead!
laurel
Jun. 28th, 2008 09:41 pm (UTC)
Wow, that's very cool. Congratulations!

I remember you mentioning the toy company, but had forgotten the name 'til seeing it again. Had no idea the toys were so hard to find, but then I suspect (as with many toys) sometimes the brand name is no longer there with the toy so when people list them for sale/auction they sometimes don't know what they have so don't include the name. If you knew specifics on particular toys, you could search on those I suppose, but these things tend to be too vague (like "skater doll") to be tremendously useful. Though I've had luck with similar searches (and then prices tend to be reasonable, if people don't know what they've got).

Nifty!
gerisullivan
Jun. 28th, 2008 09:59 pm (UTC)
"Skater Doll" is the name the auction house put on this one -- that might have been the Twinzy name, but isn't necessarily.

Almost all Twinzy Toys have the company name lettered onto them on a leg or their underside, or, on later toys, a tiny vinyl tag was sewn into a seam. It was unlikely to get pulled off. Some of them, like Pandora, also have the character name lettered on. I don't have records about how many different toys were made or what all of the names were, but I do have a good sense of the general styles made and materials used. So all of that helps with identification.

Among my collection, I have one unmarked elf doll that I'd been told was a Twinzy Toy, but it always seemed a little bit different to me -- the vinyl belt sewn onto the cloth doll was clearly cut by hand and seemed crude compared to all of the other Twinzy Toys in my collection. I was thrilled to discover from reading the historical marker that what I have is almost certainly "Buddy," the very first doll they made!

(Yes, the historical marker has known errors -- this could be wrong, too. But the information fits the evidence at hand, so I'm inclined to believe that part of the text.

Thanks for sharing my joy at winning Skater Doll!
laurel
Jun. 28th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'd figured they were just calling it "skater doll" but one never knows.

It's cool that they were so well-marked, though I guess that means less chance of finding them via the "people don't know what they have" method. Sounds like the toys would have to be in pretty rough shape to not be identified.

Wow, that's very cool if the elf doll is one of the first they made. Neat!
gerisullivan
Jun. 28th, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
Yep, exactly.

This is the first "pull-toy" Twinzy character I have. I knew they made pull-toys -- they're mentioned in a newspaper article printed when I was roughly two, complete with a picture of me and 3-4 Twinzy Toys. But I didn't remember ever seeing one. My sister remembers seeing the Skater Doll pieces in the toy factory, but not one put together.

She and my brother got to play there when they were kids! Alas, the factory was closed by the time I grew old enough to do so. I have several of the squeakers and some of the vinyl material they used for dog collars and such. Oh, and a bunch of glass eyes, too. Glass eyes on metal rods. Not toy safe in today's world!
mjlayman
Jun. 28th, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
How neat! And what a nice birthday present from Ben!
gerisullivan
Jun. 29th, 2008 07:30 am (UTC)
Indeed. Thanks!
cakmpls
Jun. 29th, 2008 01:23 pm (UTC)
This is a very cool story and very cool story! I'll now be on the lookout for toys marked "Twinzy" for you.
minnehaha
Jun. 30th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
This is not, I want to note, an empty offer. cakmpls comes up with stuff. She found a postcard folder for one of my collections, and to this day, I have only seen this item one other time, on eBay.

K.
gerisullivan
Jun. 30th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
Neat!

I can't imagine cakmpls making an empty offer regarding any matter. It's just not in her character. I admire her finding fu -- huzzah.

Speaking of offers, you'll be delighted if not surprised to hear that Amy is serving as my shipping agent and that we've worked out the deal so that she and a friend will stay here at Toad Woods during the trip to Webs that they want to make. Win-win! Thank you for reconnecting us.
minnehaha
Jun. 30th, 2008 07:10 pm (UTC)
What I meant was that unlike many of us who would say they would do a thing and then, you know, just not get to it, she won't forget.

K.
cakmpls
Jun. 30th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)
I am pleased that I found you something that is difficult to find. I still look for the Falls, and in fact have one postcard waiting to show you that is 99+% likely to be one you already have, but worth the try.
minnehaha
Jun. 30th, 2008 07:11 pm (UTC)
Cool. I look forward to it.

K.
gerisullivan
Jun. 30th, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

All of the labeled examples I have are marked "Twinzy Toy." Some have "Reg U.S. Pat. Off." underneath. It's obviously hand-lettering, not typeset. The vinyl labels were then printed; the ink color is usually a darker version of the vinyl -- blue on blue, for example.

Some toys have the small vinyl label, some have the lettering directly on the toy, and some have a typewritten tag attached. The typewritten tags were most easily lost or destroyed.

The early toys -- those from the '20s and '30s -- tended to be stiff and tightly-stuffed. Like Pandora, which also shows the lettering style when it was on the toy itself. Later toys -- those made in the 1940s and into the early '50s tended to be softer and floppier, with cotton coverings.

I really have no budget for anything along these lines, but I have reason to believe that I or someone in my family would come up with anything in the $5-$25 range for a Twinzy Toy in anything other than completely dire condition and if you ever stumbled across than one at a time, please call or send email, whichever fit the circumstances.

Again, thank you!

cakmpls
Jun. 30th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
When I find things for my friends, I don't expect them to pay me for them--I like the hunt. Of course, if I found a whole collection or something I couldn't foot the bill, but I would call you right away.
gerisullivan
Jun. 30th, 2008 07:34 pm (UTC)
Gracious! Thank you, that's very generous.

Happy hunting!
(Anonymous)
Apr. 25th, 2010 06:22 pm (UTC)
Twinzy toy
I HAVE THE MOLDS THAT THEY USE FOR THE BOXES.I live right next door to the toy factory.You can e-mail me at darryllmcdonald542yahoo.com
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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