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LINCOLN TOYS - The Early Years, 1940-1950
by David R Gray continued


The first toys to be called "Lincoln Toys", obviously named after the "Lincoln Specialties" company, were a series of metal trucks produced circa 1946. The trucks were of two sizes and two different conventional cab designs, and all bore the early version of the classic oval "Made in Canada Lincoln Toys" decal with black lettering on a gold background. The earliest trucks all had a two-piece, spot-welded cab with the grille design pressed into the steel. The first truck was likely the dump truck with running boards, a grille represented by vertical bars, and steel wheels. Blue and yellow with black wheels is a common colour for these early toys. The steel wheels were followed by wooden, then composition wheels, until rubber wheels became available.

The grille design was changed to horizontal lines in the next series of large trucks; which included a 13-inch dump truck with running boards; a blue, red, or light green tow truck without running boards; and a 16-inch red firetruck, A smaller, l 0 1/2-inch truck with the horizontal grille design and running boards, was produced in 1946-47 as a stake truck. Most trucks that I have seen from this series were red and yellow.

There was also, an early version of the smallest Lincoln truck series. The "junior dump truck" (later called "economy" trucks) was 7 1/4 inches long; had a separate painted grille, which was inserted from the inside and protruded out through the gap in the front of the cab. The box was a simple shape, the wheels rubber, and the decal of the early type. These trucks were usually blue and yellow, or light green and yellow, and were available until about 1952.

3. Al's Cycle Shops

The origin of some of the early Lincoln Toys is closely tied to two other toy-makers, Al Rocheleau and Harry Ellwood, both of Windsor, Ontario. Al Rocheleau operated Al's Cycle and Toy Shops at two locations in Windsor between 1937 and about 1946.

In a 1946 directory the company is described by the listing, "Toys and Metal Stampings." At about this time, Al's Cycle Shops made a 19-inch fire truck with the familiar cab-over design, and a long simple chassis carrying two ladders on brackets. The decal on the cab hood reads "Al's Cycle Shop Ltd., Windsor, Canada". At this time it is not clear whether Al Rocheleau was the first to make this fire truck, or whether it was the other Windsor toy-maker, Harry Ellwood.

4. Ellwood Toys

Harry Ellwood established his original Ellwood Toy line in Windsor in about 1945. The factory was located at 1301 Rossini Blvd. The first trucks, all of the cab-over type, carried a rectangular decal reading "Ellwood Products, Windsor, Canada" or "Another Ellwood Toy, Windsor, Canada". In the French Eaton's Fall and Winter catalogue for 1945-46, there are three of these Ellwood cab-over trucks; the firetruck just like Al's, a dump truck, and a grain truck with a larger box, all with wooden wheels. The 946 Simpson's catalogue has the service (tow) truck and the firetruck, both with rubber wheels. Other early Ellwood toy designs included a power/steam shovel and a tractor-trailer low-bed carrier. A fire destroyed the Windsor plant in the late 1940s, and Ellwood searched for a new location before finally moving his factory to Tilbury, Ontario, 46 km east of Windsor. The Tilbury factory also made auto parts, such as steel plates for door hinges, for the Ford Motor Company. From about 1948-49 on, Ellwood manufactured toys in Tilbury which were distributed as Lincoln Toys by Lincoln Specialties Limited. Some early toys from this period have Lincoln decals as well as the "Ellwood Toys, Tilbury, Ont." decal.

5. Richmond Toys

The truck cab made by both Al's Cycle Shop and Ellwood Toys may have been made first, or at the same time, by an American company from Richmond, Michigan. The Richmond Toy Company may have started operations earlier than 1946, but ceased production after a fire in September 1948; which apparently started in the paint department, destroyed their building, along with some 8,000 metal trucks ready for Christmas delivery. The toys made by the Richmond Company were available in at least two body styles, a tow truck and a dump truck, the same designs as those used by Ellwood and Windsor Steel.

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