American Tin Toy Trolley Circa 1880


American, Circa 1880 c.

4 1/21"
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Horse drawn trolleys or “horse buses” were the main source of “mass transit”, along with trains in the late 1800’s in America. Thus they were ubiquitous subject matter for toy makers to exploit as toys for young children. While many tin toy manufacturers exchanged parts, and practically all of them neglected “makers marks” to avoid patent infringement, it makes it exceedingly difficult to identify particular toys. This particular horse drawn trolley is attributed to George W. Brown & Co., Forrestville, Connecticut, Circa 1880 based on the similarity of the horses to those on page 21 of Pressland’s “Art of The Tin Toy”, (they are almost identical), as are the horses in Lot 404 attributed to George Brown of the Max Berry collection November 2014.

The condition of the toy is good, having had some paint restoration to the trolley. While significant original crazed paint is observed under a loop, the majority of the trolley has been over painted in red to the sides, and green to the roof. The white paint to the horses is original. The fragility of tin and the fact that they were discarded after they no longer served a useful or “playful” purpose makes it very difficult to acquire 19th century American tin toys. Their charm and symbolism makes them particularly appealing to collectors of both toys and Americana today.

Dimensions: 14 1/2″ long¬† x 5″ high¬† x 3″ wide.