Chein toys, founded in 1903 by a one-armed, one-time Vaudeville performer named Julius Chein in a loft in New York City in 1903. He began with a metal-stamping operation and produced small tin prizes for the Cracker Jack boxes and other toys for five and dime stores.
The company's reputation is however built on the collectible tinplate toys and banks, for example the Ferris Wheels and Rollercoaster toys.
Chein had a friend with the American Can Company who convinced him to lithograph designs on tinplate instead of painting them. American Can did the litho work for Chein until 1907, when a new plant was opened in Harrison, New Jersey. The toy company produced toy coin banks, horse-drawn carts and noisemakers. These were sold mainly through the Woolworth chain stores.
Julius had quite a violent temper. Some say the loss of his arm when he was a kid while experimenting with fireworks, has attributed to his temperament.When something went wrong at the production line he often flew into a rage and sometimes got so angry that he took off his watch, threw it on the floor, and started jumping on it.
He died in 1926 when he fell from his horse.
Some of the most collectible Chein toys are: The Ferris wheel, which Chein produced since the 1930s, Roller Coasters (since 1949), the Playland Merry-Go-Round (1950). The Space Ride and the larger Rocket Ride came along in the early 1950s.
What's your 'Chein' worth? Here are some recently sold items (UK).
|Tin Litho Wind Up Circus Working Rabbit||09/2019||£30.00|
|6 Tin Toy J Fancy Groceries Wagon Truck||09/2019||£12.12|
|J Happy Days Bank Barrel Large Tin Toy||10/2019||£14.65|
|Popeye Windup 1932 Bag Puncher J Co||11/2019||£437.71|
See all sold items for more prices.
Do you want to know more about collectible tin toys, and want to learn about value and identification? Take a look at these books on old toys on Amazon.