Saturday, January 22, 2011

From pressed steel toys to presswork

Recently I purchased a 1940s toy dump truck at auction.

Doing a little research on the background of the toy I discovered that "Lincoln Specialties", or as it was more commonly known, "Lincoln Toys" has an interesting connection with printing. The company that made it - "Kay Manufacturing" - was founded by father and son team, Haven and Fredrick Kimmerly in Windsor Ontario. With the Second World War raging in Europe, business was good and they received government contracts to build ammunition boxes and truck fenders for the Canadian Army. Their products also included bicycle carriers and kickstands as well as automobile visors and the ultra-collectible steel "Coca-Cola" licensed coolers.

But as the wartime economy slowed down new products were needed to replace the loss of government contracts. They decided to focus the company's efforts on the burgeoning post-war baby-boom toy market. So, the Kimmerlys set up "Lincoln Specialties" in 1946 in order to market their new "Windsor Steel"-made products and by 1953 the toy selection had grown to over 24 different styles of trucks in three different sizes and two different cab designs.

Unfortunately, despite their succeses, increased foreign competition and unsuccessful bids to win back automotive contracts that were abandoned during the toy boom forced Lincoln Specialties out of business in 1959.

Fredrick Kimmerly (1920 - 1985), who was always artistically inclined, had admired how printers had lithographed the decals on his trucks and the products they carried.So, in 1968 he launched Standard Printing as a family owned business specializing in thermography, and embossing. The business continues to this day under the stewardship of Fredrick's eldest son Paul, his wife Lori and their two children.Sadly, Paul does not own a Lincoln toy himself - but he does own the original English pressed steel toy that served as the prototype for the now, highly, collectible Lincoln toy trucks.

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