Monday, January 25, 2010

Buddy “L” - Daryle Lambert's Antique and Collectibles Blog – Bigger and Better.

Buddy "L"

Like the Arcade Company, the Buddy “L” company was a little before my time, but I still can appreciate their toys today. This company started simply with a father making toys for his son and his neighbors who wanted some for their children.

Here is a complete history of the Buddy “L” Company.

Buddy L History:

Buddy "L" toys are manufactured by the Moline Pressed Steel Company in East Moline, Illinois. The company was founded in 1910 by Fred A Lundhal and originally manufactured automobile fenders and other stamped auto body parts for the automobile industry. The company primarily supplied parts for the McCormack-Deering line of farm implements and the International Harvester Company for its trucks.

Moline Pressed Steel did not begin manufacturing toys until 1921. Mr. Lundhal wanted to make something new, different, and durable for his son Arthur. He designed and produced an all-steel miniature truck, reportedly a model of an International Harvester truck made from 18 and 20 gauge steel which had been discarded to the company's scrap pile.

The other kids in the neighborhood loved the toy so much they got their parents to request that Mr. Lundhal make similar toys for them. The demand made Mr. Lundhal consider manufacturing toys for the toy trade. He designed and produced 3 samples of all steel toys under the name Buddy"L". The name Buddy "L" came from his son, Arthur, who was known in the neighborhood as Buddy "L", to distinguish him from another Buddy in the same neighborhood.

Mr. Lundhal took his samples to the 1922 New York Toy Fair and received a lukewarm reception. Toy buyers thought the prices were too high; however, the toys became noted for their size and quality and toy sales took off. Therefore, Lundhal went ahead and launched the first large American pressed-steel toys - Buddy L.

The toy business prospered so much that by 1923, Moline Pressed Steel stopped fabricating full-size auto parts in favor of toys. By 1925 the toy line expanded to 20 items, including fire engines, moving vans, tanker trucks, lumber trucks, overhead cranes and sand loaders.

In 1926, the fabulous "Outdoor Railroad" train appeared. It was soon followed by ice trucks, coal trucks, tug boats, airplanes and a bus. Highly detailed and functional construction toys were also introduced, including some of the most desirable Buddy L toys ever manufactured.

In 1930 the name of the company was changed to Buddy "L" Manufacturing Company. The toys underwent some improvements to make them more realistic. The Junior line of trucks and toys were introduced.

Buddy "L" continued as the leader of large pressed steel toys up until World War II. Because steel was unavailable at that time, a line of wooden cars and trucks was produced. After the war, Buddy L continued to manufacture toys; however, it was never the same as before as toy manufacturers began making plastic toys.

To learn more about Buddy "L" history, we suggest you consider purchasing a copy of The Story of Buddy L, which is available on our literature page.

[ The history of Buddy L information above is from the Collector's Guide to American Transportation Toys, written by Joe and Sharon Freed ]

I believe that this history will be an inspiration to all that read it. To spark your interest even more, I will give you some examples of Buddy “L” sales from the March 26, 2001 Antique Trader: Insurance Patrol fire truck with box $37,000, Pile Driver on crawler tracks $20,000, Steam shovel mounted on truck $32,000 and Shell truck with box $20,000. There are more auction prices listed in the article and I hope that you can find it for your records. After I finish this series, you may want to contact the Trader to see if they would send these articles to you.

My only memorable sale of a Buddy “L” was a fire truck that I bought for $50 and sold to a collector for $2,500. This was the same man that purchased Joshua's ¼ midget racer from me. He came to see the racer and spotted the fire truck that wasn't for sale until he offered $2500 for it. I tried to say no because it was Joshua's, but I couldn't help myself. I said "sold". Since that time, I have been able to replace the truck many times for my son but at much lower prices as they weren't Buddy “L”s.

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