Happy Hooligan Police Patrol Toy, ca. 1905

Value (2012) | $2,500 Auction$3,000 Auction

The first day of the blizzard of 1978, my husband and I bought a house through sealed bid process. The house had been lived in by the same family since the turn of the century, and all of their personal effects were in it. It was not livable-- pipes were burst, there were lots of problems-- but in cleaning out the house, we found many treasures. My husband went into the attic and found a bunch of toys, and this was one of the toys.

Was this the best one you found or the one you liked the most?

It's probably the one we liked the most.

Well, what do you know about it?

Several years ago, I saw a copy of a book that contained a photo of this police patrol wagon in it, and it said it was a Happy Hooligan Police Patrol Wagon.

That's exactly what it is. And of course, this is Happy Hooligan. Happy Hooligan was a comic strip character created by Frederick Opper, who was one of the great newspaper cartoonists of the very early 20th century. He started in 1900 in the William Hearst papers, and he was a fantastic success. Lasted 'til around 1932. Comic strips very early on understood the power of licensing. Here was a comic strip that was in the newspapers every week and kids saw it and loved it, and somebody said, "Maybe we can sell some toys." This is the very earliest era of that comic strip character licensing. The toy was made by the Kenton Toy Company in Kenton, Ohio. And what's great about the toy is it's an animated toy. It's action. It rolls along. And when the wire is hooked up just so, this policeman hits Happy on the head with his billy club. It's all original, it has not been monkeyed with-- because a lot of times what happens with a toy like this, all these little pieces that are parts of that could be broken-- but it's all complete. And even though it has some paint losses, it's a pretty nice example. In today's market, at auction, I think this toy would easily bring $2,500 to $3,000.

Wow, I thought you were going to say about $400 or $500.

No, well...

Well, you surprised me there.

Well, I will say this: back in the day, these could have sold for $4,000 and $5,000. But then more came out, more were discovered. But still, this is, as I say, one of the classic cast-iron toys. I was really excited to see it, and it's fun to share.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd.
Carversville, PA
Appraised value (2012)
$2,500 Auction$3,000 Auction
Boston, MA (June 09, 2012)
20th Century
Cast Iron

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