1937 Garton Velocipede tricycle (20″ wheel)

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1937 Garton velocipede tricycle


WIDTH: 18″


20″ Front wheel

12″ Rear wheels

Garton was one of the leading American manufacturers of pedal cars and riding toys. In the mid-1930s they employed some of the leading automobile designers to refresh the styling of their product range, to reflect the recent popularity of streamlining in products as varied as railway trains, cars and refridgerators. The psychology behind it was that the father of the household may not be able to afford one of the new cars wuth streamlined styling, but at least he could buy his son a streamlined tricycle to compensate.

This tricycle has some lovely design touches, in particular the front of the body (below) and the rear step which allowed a second child to stand behind the rider. It is in excellent unrestored original condition, with a beautiful saddle, and is ready to ride.









Sheboygan, Wisconsin, USA

For more than 95 years beginning in 1879, the Garton Toy Co. played Santa Claus and created great Christmases for children everywhere. They manufactured the coaster wagons, sleds, tricycles, scooters and pedal cars of which we all dreamed. At one time, Garton was the largest wheel goods toy factory in the world.

Company founder, Eusebius Bassingdale Garton was born near Toronto, Canada, in 1843 of English immigrants. E.B. arrived in America in 1864, finding employment at Jos. Richardson’s sawmill in Sheboygan Falls driving an oxen dray in the lumberyard.

E.B. had his first epiphany concerning toys while working for Sheboygan Carriage Company. Legend has it that young Garton put four wooden wheels on one of the cigar boxes manufactured there because he envisioned a “motion conveyance having play value for children” — a complicated explanation for toys, but then and there a toy dynasty began.

Garton Toy started in a small frame woodworking shop along the north bank of the Sheboygan River near the Eighth Street Bridge. It initially manufactured anything and everything that was needed by consumers including cigar boxes, washboards and fish boxes. But, as time passed, production moved toward toys. By 1882, the nation’s first coaster wagon, all-wooden in construction — even wheels and axles — was introduced by the firm.

The year 1887 brought one of Garton’s first catalogs featuring the new Pony Express wagon with iron wheels instead of wood.

As the century progressed, new products were introduced, stick horses, fancy willow carriages, hooded toy cradles, a child’s parlor swing and a striped wagon that could be pulled by a dog or goat.

In 1890, the company suffered heavy financial loss when fire leveled the plant after sparks from the smoke stack of the neighboring Halsted factory ignited Garton Toy.

After considering and rejecting a move to Chicago, a new and larger factory was built on property at North Water Street and Niagara Avenue in Sheboygan. This new factory employed 150 and was logically outfitted with a primitive sprinkler system, albeit state-of-the-art for the time.

For the next 50 years Garton Toy introduced something new to the toy market annually. The company’s first star was an iron velocipede, a forerunner of the tricycle. It had large spoke, metal wheels, a fiber seat and wooden handlebars. Next came the sled, introduced in 1915 at a time when Garton Toy Co. was recognized as a leader in the toy industry. An ironclad wagon, a revision of the original wooden one, also appeared sometime around 1915.

Soon after came sidewalk autos or pedal cars. They ranged from deluxe models like the Pierce Arrow to more mundane brands like the Buick. The most distinctive toy in company history was the 1950 Garton Kidillac.

Wheel goods with metal bodies became the company’s specialty through the decades after 1920. The steel body wagon arrived in 1929. Within the toy trade, the color of those much-loved coaster wagons and tricycles was known simply as “Garton Red.”

Disaster struck the company again on May 31, 1929, when the largest fire in the city of Sheboygan’s history consumed Garton Toy for a second time. The Sheboygan Press deemed it “the day the city went wild.”

But, all good things must come to an end. The introduction of plastics to the toy industry and increased government regulation led to Garton’s demise. Sale of the company to a finance and investment organization based in Milwaukee was announced in 1973. The Garton Toy Factory is now an apartment building.