Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Collecting -- and collecting information 21

In the last installment (see part 20) I wrote about the continued mystery of the small Japanese tin signs I'd purchased for the Straco Display Layout. The signs themselves have no manufacturer's mark on them. I had found some in their original packaging, but even the packaging had no identifier.

Recently I ran across a tinplate Japanese floor toy train for sale in its original box. The set is from about 1960, and -- as you can see in the photo -- it came with a set of my mystery signs.

If that box art looks familiar, it should. Ichimura "borrowed" it from Lionel's
1958 catalog (see below) -- which helps date this set as well.

There's no question these are the same signs - the markings bear the same patent numbers as mine. This time, there is a brand on the set -- the stylized Indian head of Ichimura & Co. Ltd..

Ichimura didn't consistently brand their products, especially their low-cost toys. The only appearance of the brand is on the box -- which is why original packaging is such an important source of information. So one mystery's solved.

One more thing -- all of the signs I've found were all made the same way. They were stamped out of a single sheet of tin, with the based designed to be bent at an angle to hold the sign upright. Look closely at the semaphore signal. It's made of two pieces of metal. The semaphore flag pivots on the base, giving this piece some extra play value.

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