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I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Commonwealth / Commonwealth Plastic Corp. / Commonwealth Products Co. / Commonwealth Toy & Novelty Co

Paragon Plastics, 28 Adams Street, Leominster, Massachusetts, USA (unconnected?)
Commonwealth Plastic Corp. Delaware, USA (Parent registration)
Commonwealth Plastic Corp., 28 Adams Street, Leominster, Massachusetts, USA (administrative office)
Commonwealth Plastic Corp., 98 Adams Street, Leominster, Massachusetts, USA (Extrusion plant?)
Commonwealth Products Co., 720 Mechanic St., Leominster, MA 01453, Massachusetts, USA (Production factory)
Commonwealth Products Co., Toy Building, 200 Fifth Avenue, New York 10, New York, USA (sales and marketing offices)
Commonwealth Toy & Novelty Co., Inc., 45 West 25th Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10010
Phone: 212 242 4070
Fax: 212 645 4279
Email: cwtsales@cwt-ny.com
Website: www.commonwealthtoy.nyc

They now also have offices in Europe

See also Commonwealth Mouldings (Australia) and Sanitarium Foods

For piracies and/or derivatives see also Codec and Van Brode, the dolls were also copied by various Hong Kong enterprises as both 20 and 25mm gumball vending machine prizes, in hard polystyrene, soft polyethylene and PVC vinyl; painted and unpainted, with some baseless charm versions and at least two figures (Hawaii and Scotland) were pirated full size as a vinyl key-ring charm.

History
Most sources state the company was started in 1935, however the current company states it was founded in 1934 - and they should know! William Lester, one of the biggest names in early plastics, was invited to join the fledgling joint-venture company with an equity stake in 1935, and after accepting the partnership offer, spent a mere ten weeks inventing a fast, semi-automated, hydraulic, injection-moulding machine (the 'Lester'), which revolutionised plastics in the US, just as war loomed.

The machine was capable of four-ounce shots on a six-second cycle, when most other commercially available machines were hand-drawn, one-ounce capability machines with a mould-shot cycle measured in minutes.

He appears to have helped set-up a subsidiary (of Commonwealth) to work on the mechanical side of the business (possibly the Mechanic Street address above) and to market the machines and mould tools to other plastics companies. All this was before he left to set up Pyro Plastics with his wife in 1939 in Westfield (Union County), New Jersey.

There are reports of union trouble in 1941 on the 'net, while Commonwealth were registered on January 15th 1947, in Leominster, Massachusetts as a 'foreign' corporation domiciled in Delaware. Commonwealth successfully defended a claim against them in 1949, in the matter of a toy whistle, the whistle having been in production since the previous year.

The current firm is heavily engaged (as are the rest of the industry) in licensing of recognisable characters from the worlds of TV, video games & the Internet and movies with brands such as Angry Birds, Family Guy, Peeps and Pillow Pets, and work with companies such as Warner Brothers.

The old Adams Street facility in Leominster was taken over by Paragon Plastics who closed the plant in 1990; it had fallen into disrepair and was converted into serviced offices for small businesses in 2013, now called City Place.

While they have ended-up firmly in the toy industry, back at the start, toys (really 'novelties') were a small part of their business, with general household goods being as important, while their bread and butter in the 1940's and 1950's seems to have been selling hardware and supplies to other plastics start-ups.

Commonwealth seem to have used other trade-marks to shift product (Paragon may be a late example?), with the Dolls of Our World reappearing in Dolls Bodies Inc. (of New York) packaging, quite early in their life (see the links to Kent's site), with other products branded to Play Mate and Admiration.

Doll Bodies are interesting as they made several pretty standard dolls with opening/sleep eyes, 'real' mohair etc…But (unlike New York Doll Co, Ideal &etc.) don't seem to have patented any innovative doll (or other toy) stuff.

Dolls of Our World
Individual Carded Figures
133/1 - Alaska (may have been renamed to/from 'Eskimo'?)
133/? - Cowboy
133/13 - Cowgirl
133/17 - New England (may have been named Early American? Was renamed 'England')
133/? - Indian [Native American]
133/? - Argentina
133/? - Austria (was renamed 'Switzerland')
133/7 - China
133/? - Cuba
133/? - Czechoslovakia
133/11 Denmark
133/3 Egypt
- England (reissue of 'New England', may never have been carded individually)
133/16 - Finland
133/10 - France
133/8 (?) - Germany
133/4 - Haiti
133/6 - Hawaii
133/15 - Holland
133/? - India (may have been renamed from/to 'Sikh'?)
133/19 - Italy
133/? - Japan
133/? - Japan
133/? - Java
133/25 - Korea
133/20 - Mexico
133/12 - Norway
133/18 - Portugal
133/24 - Scotland
133/? - Siam
133/? - Spain
133/9 - Sweden
133/21 - Switzerland
- Switzerland (reissue of 'Austria', may never have been carded individually)
12 Figure Sets (tray/box with cellulose acetate window)
1330A - Dolls of Our World (numbers 1-12 from the above series)
1330B - Dolls of Our World (numbers 13-24 from the above series)
8 figure Sets (32 figures divided between four sets)
- Dolls of Our World 8 Plastic Dolls (set 1, with 32 paper flags and quiz game)
  • New England
  • Portugal
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • Switzerland
  • Siam
  • Japan
  • Scotland
- Dolls of Our World 8 Plastic Dolls (set 2, with 32 paper flags and quiz game)
- Dolls of Our World 8 Plastic Dolls (set 3, with 32 paper flags and quiz game)
- Dolls of Our World 8 Plastic Dolls (set 4, with 32 paper flags and quiz game)
 
Other Products
Whistles
No.124 - Fire Chief Siren
No.T117 - Speed Kop Whistle
- Bub-L-Whistle
- Penny-farthing
- Whirl-a-Whistle
Other Toys and Novelties
No.132 - Jumpin' Jimmy Novelty Clown Lapel Pin
No. 535B - Make Your Own Trophy Award Sharpener (with sticker sheet)
- Chuckle Face (revolving face changer)
- Dolls House Bird Cage
- Dolls House Street Lamp with Letter/Post Box (black)
- Dolls House Street Lamp with Letter/Post Box (green)
- Dolls House Street Lamp with Letter/Post Box (red)
- Globe [money] Bank
- Power Lawn Mower
- Tool Shed with Five Tools [Axe, Pick, Sledge, Sheers, Saw]
- Watering Can with rake and Spade
- Wheelbarrow with Garden Tools
Non-Toy Items
- Faux Soapstone Jewellery Box (with hinged lids)
- Rabbit in Hat Novelty Ashtray
As: Admiration
No.581 - Professional Slide Rule (1950's)
As or With: Dolls Bodies Inc. (of New York)
- Dolls of Faraway Lands (core set of 32 mouldings with paints and bases)
As: Play Mate Plastic Toys
- Combat Tank with Moveable Turret (blow-moulding - Kent Sprecher's website)
See links at top for modern range/lines.

Links
Doll page on 'Home Blog'

They Say
"More than 80 years after its birth, Commonwealth continues to maintain strong brand recognition and excellence." Current management schpiel.

What This Entry Needs
Better History of the more recent era
Better listing of other toys, novelties and general plastic products
Which address was used for what purpose?
Missing numbers/boxed-set contents for Dolls of our World?

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