Thursday, April 06, 2006

American Horsedrawn Trolley Toys

The days of horsedrawn trolleys are something most of us can hardly imagine today. However, the American toys of the 1880’s and 1890’s provide a time capsule for these nostalgic vehicles. In the late 1800’s the famous photographer Alfred Stieglitz captured an image of a prototypical horsedrawn trolley. Entitled “The Terminal,” this photograph was made outside the New York City trolley terminal.

As with many toys of the late 19th century, lightweight tin toys gave way to heavier cast iron models. This 1880’s trolley is by Fallows and retains much of the original staining that gives the piece its color. Few good examples of tin trolleys have survived today because of their fragility.

This next trolley is an early cast iron example by Wilkins.

Here a slightly later example which lacks much of the detail but remains a rugged plaything (probably by Arcade or Kenton.)

Finally, a large and detailed cast iron trolley by Wilkins from the 1890’s.

For many of us, the draw of early American toys is indelibly linked the romantic images of the past they conjure in our minds. Although they represent a fairly short period of time, the toy horsedrawn trolley is a wonderful keepsake of the early American city.