Oh, when the weather outside is frightful, adults’ thoughts may not be on delight. However, children’s demeanors may be polar opposite with ideas of play and frivolity at the forefront as evidenced by toys associated with wintry weather activities, such as sleds.
The Delaware County Historical Society has proof that many of us had that youthful joy as evidenced by the variety of sleds in its collection.
One child’s sled is reddish in color with intricate markings as the rails curve in its front. The coloration is original, as are the designs of delicate petals and leaves.
Of course, there’s a Flexible Flyer, created by Philadelphia-born Samuel Leeds Allen.
Then living in New Jersey, Allen had a farm machinery business, as he had many patents for such mechanisms from grass edgers to potato diggers.
As the farming season is reliant upon the weather, Allen wanted to create an item that would keep his factory open during the winter.
He created a different array of sleds and developed the Flexible Flyer in 1889. While popular, they didn’t flourish until Allen marketed the sled to the toy departments of department stores.
In 1915, almost 120,000 Flexible Flyers were sold and it’s believed that up to 2,000 were sold in one day alone.
In 1968, Allen’s company was purchased by California-based Leisure Group and the sleds continued to be manufactured in the United States, where it stayed until another company purchased the rights to make the toy and moved production to China in 1998.
Both of these sleds – and more - are housed at the Delaware County Historical Society Museum, Library & Research Center is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday; 1 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The museum’s telephone number is 610-872-0502. Parking is free on the society lot behind the building or across the street in the municipal lot.
Membership in the Delaware County Historical Society ranges from $10 for students, $27 for individuals to $250 at the patron level. It includes free admission to the society’s Chester museum and library at 408 Avenue of the States, the society newsletter and preferred reservations and discounts for lectures and events. To join, please visit www.padelcohistory.org or call 610-359-0832.
Sleds with varying degree of detail are in the Delaware County Historical Society collection.