Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Visit to the Schieble Toy Company Part 2

So, one week later I was working in Dayton, Ohio with a free afternoon on the horizon. I gave Steve Seboldt a call and we arranged to meet at the Ice Avenue Lofts. If you haven’t been to Dayton before you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Dayton has a quaint downtown district filled with medium high-rise buildings that look from the freeway like a pre-plasticville Lionel layout. The Ice Avenue Lofts were easy to find but access controlled, so I found myself lurking around for someone I didn’t know outside the building. After about ten minutes, a group of ladies clutching bottles of wine stopped and asked me what I was doing. Hmm, difficult to know what the best answer would be. I could tell them the truth that I’m here to see the original building for a toy car factory that was here about 90 years ago or… but just then one of the ladies asked if I was here to see Steve. She probably thought I was meeting him about real estate. I gave a uncertain, “yes” and she let me into the lobby.

Upon entering the building I was struck by how “designed” everything was. What once was a factory had been converted into a sheik hipster pad that should definitely appeal to 20 and 30 somethings who want to live in the city. An elevator was on one side and on the other wall, a beautiful print of the building as it looked in 1918 (see picture in part I). On a glass end table lay a set of brochures entitled “The History of 215 Ice Avenue Circa 1918, Schieble Toy and Novelty Company” compiled by Steve Seboldt (see picture excerpt above.) Obviously, I had found the right guy. Just then I heard a friendly, “are you Brent?” I turned around and met Steve. A confident looking man in his late 30’s with a comfortable smile a beer in hand.

Steve and I took the elevator to the top floor where his apartment overlooks the city though large brick archway windows. Steve explained that he had been directly involved in the renovation of this building and that when it was complete he couldn’t resist living in it. From where I stood I could see why. The apartments are spacious and the ceilings a very high complex of crisscrossing girders and wooden beams. All interior walls are new additions and the supporting walls are all left exposed showing the antique brickwork. Steve offered me a beer and we sat in his beautifully appointed kitchen overlooking his living room and the city of Dayton. Steve explained that the building had been abandoned for many years but that some early equipment had remained. Among all the building remnants he had discovered the end of an original Schieble wooden crate. This was now proudly displayed over the kitchen wall. Even with all the renovation it wasn’t difficult to image what this factory used to look like. Heavy equipment for bending and shaping metal on the ground floor, accounting offices on the second floor and executive offices on the top floor. This building looked as if it turned out a lot of toys, and indeed the Schieble Toy and Novelty Company did just that. In part three, I will give a little more history on the DP Clark, Dayton, Schieble connection and take a look at a few friction cars by these companies.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Visit to the Schieble Toy Company Part 1


My current job subjects me to a fair amount of travel. In order to break up the monotony I sometimes arrange to visit a local site of interest such as a museum or collection.

Last summer I had the unique opportunity to spend some time in Dayton, Ohio. As a collector of DP Clark, Dayton Friction Toy Works and Schieble Toy Company friction cars I thought it would be fun to track down the original factory location for one of these businesses. Little did I know at the time that one week later I would be standing in the Schieble Toy Company's original factory building. What follows is the story of how I came to be there and what I learned about the company.

One week before I was scheduled to travel to Dayton, Ohio I began my websearch. After a good deal of websearching on these three companies over three days, the only thing I ran across was an obscure reference to a building called The Ice House and a real estate agent by the name of Steve Seboldt. On a whim I decided to send Steve an email. Here is what I said:

Steve,

I ran a across a reference to you and the Schieble Toy Company in Dayton Ohio while researching the Dayton Friction Toy Works and the Schieble Toy Company. In this reference I interpreted that the Ice Avenue Lofts may be the original location of this company. Do you have any information on this? I am a collector of Schieble Toys and will be in Dayton and would like to find the building if it still exists.

Thanks for your help,

Brent

One hour later I received Steve's response. Here it is:


Cool.

I am writing you from The Schieble Toy Company. It is now called the Ice Avenue Loft. I live here. I have some info I can send you. I also have a picture from 1918 (seen above.) I will send you a picture of how the building looks now.



I am 100% sure this is the Schieble Toy Company. You can see the name on the old picture (not visible in the web image.) Plus I verified it with the Williams Directories from that period.
I also have a piece of a packing crate in my loft that has the Schieble name on it. On the other side is a name of a company in Philadelphia

When are you coming? I would love to show you around.

Steve


What a find. With one email it looked as if I had discovered the location of the Schieble Toy Company. Not only that, but I now had an open invitation to visit the property.

Please see part 2 of this article where I will post some more information on my visit to the Schieble Toy Company and some images of my current friction car collection.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Welcome to the Antique Toys Blog

Hello and welcome to the Antique Toys Blog. This is a place for discussion and general sharing about all forms of antique toys. We will be discussing American toys such as Ives, Althof Bergmann, Fallows, George Brown, Lionel, AC Gilbert, DP Clark, Hubley, Kenton and European such as Marklin, Bing, Carette and many more. I personally collect early American clockwork trains and friction cars as well as European clockwork and live steam trains. However, I do not wish to limit this Blog to just those makes and topics. There are wonderful collectables such as American and European automata, dolls and Steiff that would also be appropriate for this forum as well as many others. If you love antique toys then this is the place for you.

I originally thought of producing a podcast on this topic and this blog may eventually expand to that. But for now, I will start slow and see what interest is produced. After watching Marc Kuffler's wonderful Standard Gauge Blog I decided this was the way to go.

My motivation for a blog on this topic stems from years of toy collecting passed down from my grandfather, to my father and now to me. I am fairly young in the antique train world (33 years old) but I have been in love with toy collecting since I received my first S-gauge American Flyer train as an infant. I feel it is imperative that we get more youth involved in this hobby and blogs and podcasts are one way to do that, and by all means please consider this a two way street by commenting and contributing to the blog. I have a great love for the history and nostalgia of antique toys and am excited to share it with you.

Brent Gerity
TCA# 02-55374