The Philadelphia History Museum: A Toy Story

Produced by Karen Smyles

The Philadelphia History Museum, formerly known as the Atwater Kent Museum, may not be huge but its inventory is. Nowhere else in the city will you find more objects that tell the story of Philadelphia, starting at around 1682 with William Penn, right up until today. One of the current exhibitions will make you feel like a kid again. Friday Arts shares the story of “The Santa Clause of Kensington”.

In 1872 a young man named Albert Schoenhut came to Philadelphia from Germany. His father and grandfather were toy makers and he came here to continue the family tradition. Albert started out making toy pianos and musical instruments and by the time he died in 1912 the company was the largest toy maker in the world and the only company that exported toys to Germany.

Schoenhut died in 1912 and remains arguably the most famous American maker of wooden toys. The company itself ceased operations in 1935, when the Great Depression made toys an unaffordable luxury for most Americans. Albert’s son, Otto, partnered with Stanley Osborn to start O. Schoenhut, Inc. The new company’s 4-5-6 Pick Up Sticks toy became one of the first real fads in American toys and remained popular with adults and children for over 20 years.

Highlights of the exhibition include one of Albert’s most popular toys, the Humpty Dumpty Circus, along with dolls, pianos, a battleship and a submarine that explodes. A unique object will be also be on loan from the Schoenhut family, a Connie Mack doll in suit and bow tie, Albert was a big A’s fan.

Executive Director & CEO, Charles Croce talks about the museums history and shares interesting facts about a few of the objects on display. Curator, Jeffrey Ray and Schoenhut collectors, Carol Corson and Joseph Wells take us through the story of what was once billed as the ”Largest Toy Company In The World’ which happened to be right here in the City of Philadelphia!


The Philadelphia History Museum: Face to Facebook

 

 

Produced by Karen Smyles, Edited by Maryam Elarbi

Charles Croce, Executive Director & CEO of the Philadelphia History Museum, talks about one of the most popular exhibits currently on display at the museum called “Face to Facebook”. He also tells the story of how the museum came to be, and what guests can look forward to experiencing during their visit at the historic museum.

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