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Toy Tourist Bus

Buses were used for transportation as early as the 1820s, long before the modern motor was invented. They had horse-power—live horses pulled the bus. By the 1830s, buses were powered by steam, and in 1882, the first electric bus was introduced.

The toy bus made after 1895 often re-sembled tourist buses used in a few large cities. It had a motor. The tourist bus had seats inside and out; if the weather was nice, riders could climb the stairs to go up to the top seats where tall buildings could be admired. There was no cover for the top.

The Kenton Hardware Co in Kenton, Ohio, made many small cast iron household items such as bookends, doorstops, small figures, ashtrays, cooking utensils, and toys. A double-decker tourist bus was made in about 1900, followed by a second version in 1910. An orange one sold for $1,020 at a Bertoia auction despite seven replacement figures with old paint. Many old iron toys have been copied; original toys should have a smooth, not bumpy, bottom. The seams between the molded parts must be tight and jointed with slotted screws. Most old toys have the maker’s name impressed in the mold.

Q: Is there any way to test to see if an item is made of resin, bone, or plastic?

A: Bone and resin are natural products. Bone has small black or brown pock marks called marrow flecks. It’s heavier than resin or plastic. Resin is an organic material made from plants and trees. It may have some tiny bubbles in it. Plastic is a synthetic material and is harder than resin. Although a resin figurine is heavier than the same figurine in plastic, it is not as durable and is more likely to chip or crack if dropped.

TIP: Don’t drag heavy furniture. Get some slider disks ahead of time and be ready when they are needed. The disks can be found at most hardware or big box stores.
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