All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Greenwood's Toymakers

This week's Advertiser-Democrat profiles an old family friend, Hugh "Cubby" Swan of Greenwood, and his collection of elastic-jointed toys made by the E. L. Tebbets Spool Company in Locke Mills.
As a sideline, from the 1920s until early 1940, the company ... made wooden toys based on popular cartoon characters of the era, such as Popeye and Little Orphan Annie.

These toys are easy to spot today at flea markets and on eBay. Although the pieces were rarely stamped with any identifying mark, it's hard to miss the particular body which, when detached from its limbs and stripped of paint, looks exactly like a spool.
Swan says it was his father, Carl, who designed many of the cartoon character prototypes used to solicit work for the mill. Eventually signed were "at least three companies," that Tebbets workers made toys for, including Jaymar, the one that seems most sought after by collectors today. [Link]
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