Saturday, May 18, 2024

Ives Toys Make Happy Boys

Everyone knows that Bridgeport was a center of manufacturing of large machinery and other industries, but did you know that this city was also one of the largest manufacturers of toy trains and mechanical toys?

Edward Ives started his toy company in Bridgeport and built some of the finest clockwork toys on the market. In 1901, Ives made mechanical trains that ran on tracks.
The trains became very popular, and by 1907, Ives opened a factory on Holland street in the city’s West End.

The slogan of the company became “Ives Toys Make Happy Boys.” This became the popular slogan found in all of their catalogues.

Lionel trains began making trains along with several other toy manufacturers. Competition became keen. Lionel would actually promote that they could repair the trains for free, and Ives Toy company had trouble competing.

In 1929, Ives Toy filed for bankruptcy. Ives was sold to a competitor, however the plant was closed in 1932. The Ives toy trains that were made here are scarce but highly collectible today. If you find Ives toy train sets or Ives mechanical toys up in your attic…they are worth much more than the few dollars they were worth in 1910.

Mary Witkowski
Mary K. Witkowski is the former Bridgeport City Historian and the Department Head of the Bridgeport History Center, Emeritus. She is the author of Bridgeport at Work, and the co-author with Bruce Williams of Bridgeport on the Sound. Mary has had a newspaper column in the Bridgeport News, a blog for the Connecticut Post, and a weekly spot on WICC. She continues to be involved in many community based activities and initiatives on local history and historic preservation.