Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Collecting -- and collecting information 26

There's nothing like primary sources to get to the heart of a matter -- even if they drive a stake through it. In Collecting -- and collecting information 25, I thought I had finally discovered the maker of some unbranded signs.

As you may recall, I first ran across the signs back in 2014 (see: Collecting  -- and collecting information 16). They weren't branded, but were marked "Made in Japan." In Part 25, I shared my discovery -- an original Japanese tin toy playset with the same signs I owned. The set was branded Ichimura, so I assumed the signs came from them, too.

There's virtually no documentation for these inexpensive dime stores toys imported from Japan in the postwar era. Many of the toys weren't branded, though sometimes the packaging was. But as these were always considered cheap, disposable toys, the packaging was very rarely saved -- much less the toys themselves.

Nevertheless, caches of new/old stock keep turning up on the market. And that provides most of the information I've been able to find about these signs. I was confident that Ichiban had made the signs -- until I found the item below.

It is a playset in its original packaging from the 1950s. And it's clearly branded KHT -- Kawahachi Toy Co. Ltd. Is it the same firm as Ichimura & Co., Ltd.? I don't think so. What little I have found about the two companies includes their addresses, which are different.

So who made the signs? Did KHT make them and sell them to other manufacturers? Or did Ichimura? It's not clear. But there is one thing I did notice.

Perhaps this is the deluxe version of the set above.
I have purchased a set (without the packaging) that's very similar to the set above. Mine has a second passenger car and a fourth sign. Does that mean KHT offered two sets? Or was this, um, "deluxe" version sold under yet another name?

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