Saturday, October 20, 2018

London Toys Company - The Little Things

We're still going through the piles of toys in the basement, but there is a box with a pile of mostly common toys, and the Toyman just tosses toys into it when he comes across something that he doesn't think is worth anything (in terms of $ value), or that he doesn't have a lot of interest in collecting. Anything worth $1 or less he just tosses into the box.

Me, on the other hand ... I'm the one whose pulled toys out of that box. Not always because they are worth something ($ wise), but if they looked like something different from all the "more-modern" Hot Wheels and Matchbox toys. I'm a big proponent of "different" or "unusual" things (don't always keep them, but I like to learn about them - bit of a history lover).

Small metal trucks and cars from the London Toy Company of London, Ontario.
A few of the toys I pulled out were marked on the bottom. They weren't in terrific shape in terms of paint, and they didn't have bottom panels like a lot of vehicles do. Still, they tweaked my interest (my historical interest). Most older items that have markings also have a story somewhere to be found. These were marked with "London Toy" and the name of the vehicle (beverage truck, fire truck, 5 passenger sedan), and a number (14, 15, or 16).

And of course, I went online to check it out. It does have a bit of history - a few people have written about them already, but very few indeed.

Initially I wondered about the name of the toys - a lot of the collectible metal cars and trucks were produced in the UK, so that was my first inclination, but as it turns out, it was a company in London, Ontario. It no longer exists, but all the reports I can find indicate the dates were somewhere between 1940 and 1950. Links to the sites I visited are for Collectors Weekly, The Silicon Underground& Rodney's Dimestore Gallery.

I did a web search and an online documents search, but the only thing I found that wasn't already reported was an archived document from the Government of Canada which lists business and industry in 1951 which employed "50 hands or over" and they weren't on the list. So I suppose by 1951 they didn't exist any longer (one would assume that since others said 1950). I used to research old companies using the the library's compliment of Scott's Directories, so I suppose that's the next step. I may get to it at some time in the future, but for now I'll leave it.

The cars themselves are metal, and all still have their odd wheels (I thought at first they were felt, but it turns out they are pressed paper, though if I'd had to guess what they were, I would have said cardboard), except for the sedan. It has the front wheels, but not the back ones, and the back two axle mounts each have a tip broken off, which is why the wheels are missing.

The sedan was blue, but there is almost no paint left on this one. The marking inside the roof says "LONDONTOY NO14" and below that "Made in" (to the left of) "MASTER DELUXE" "Canada" (Canada being on the right of the master deluxe notation). Below that it says FIVE PASSENGER COUPE. Inside on the trunk hood is the number 2.

The fire truck has a more paint, but a good bit missing too. It has all it's wheels, with the inside markings being on the rear underside. It says "LONDON TOY", below that NO 16, below that FIRE TRUCK, and below that "Made in Canada". Inside the hood it's stamped with the number 3.

With the 3 beverage trucks, the inner markings aren't identical. The red one has the least paint, has all it's wheels but they are sort of fuzzy, which is how I thought they might be compressed paper. It has only the word TOY in the top line, but it looks almost like the LONDON part was smudged over. The second line says BEVERAGE TRUCK, below that MADE IN USA, and below that, NO 15. On the inside roof of the truck cab is the number 2.

The green one says LONDON TOY, BEVERAGE TRUCK, No. 15 and no "made in markings" anywhere that I can find. However, inside the cab roof of the green truck it has what appears to be a backwards 4. Why it's backwards I have no idea, but even with the magnifying glass that's what it looks like.

The orange beverage truck (which probably has the most paint) has all 4 wheels, and LONDON TOY,
BEVERAGE TRUCK, MADE IN CANADA, NO 15. In the roof of the cab, the number 2, the same as the red truck.

Between all the vehicles, the green truck has the most difference.

The font used for the lettering inside is different, the metal seems somehow thinner - very marginally and maybe it's my imagination, but I haven't got the type of calipers you need to measure that difference, and there is that backwards 4 inside which seems pretty odd. The green truck is perhaps 2-3mm longer overall than the other two, and roof of the cab is a little higher, which is mostly only noticeable when upside down and side-by-side. It also has raised wheel wells on the bed of the truck, which neither the orange nor the red one do.

There's also a difference in size of the mould marks (for want of a better word). There are round marks inside each vehicle on the 4 corners - they remind me a little of the marks from mould stands from a ceramic firing kiln, but these are part of the truck. The ones in the green truck are considerably smaller than the ones in the other two trucks, and the fire truck.

I don't know what the explanation would be, other than a new mould or else a counterfeit, which seems pretty unlikely for one tiny toy of smallish value.

The coupe has tiny mould marks almost unnoticeable which I'm pretty sure is simply because there was no long flat surface inside that car. If you look though, there are two in the roof, two at the end of the trunk area, and two at the front bumper.

I have no idea what the markings inside the roof mean, no. 2, no. 3 and a backwards no. 4. My first thought was the mould number, or model number. It isn't likely a mould or form number since the coupe and the truck both have the number 2. Maybe a machining number, or something similar.

Other than repeating the history of the company that already appears online, I don't really know much more about these.

The differences are interesting, and the worth in terms of $ is probably not much more than a couple of dollars given the condition, but it's not up to me if they are keepers or not. (EDIT: after having read the article I wrote, he's decide to keep them ... maybe I shouldn't write anymore. I'm trying to have him get rid of stuff, not keep more!)

So collector's and toy enthusiasts, watch your boxes. You never know what you might find in one.

The big image with the cars (at the top of the page) has them all in one for comparison purposes, and you should be able to load the larger size by clicking on the picture.


  1. Check out my Londontoy group of Facebook called "It's a Londontoy" for more pictures and info.

  2. If he ever wanted to get rid of these Londontoys, I would take them :)