Country Living (USA)
Irwin Corp. Santas
WHAT TO KNOW: In 1922, 21-year-old Irwin Cohn and his wife, Mary, launched their MA-based Irwin Company, beginning with celluloid (a type of hard plastic invented in the 1860s) soap boxes. The company quickly expanded into (and became the country’s largest manufacturer of) blow-molded infant toys and rattles, including Kewpie and other dolls. They soon moved into the popular holiday category with a variety of celluloid Santa figures, rattles, tree ornaments, roly-polys, and candy containers. Beginning in the mid1940s, Irwin began phasing out their use of celluloid and incorporating newer, less flammable plastics such as polyethylene and cellulose acetate, a fact helpful in determining the age of the pieces. Around that time, the company also changed its name to The Great American Plastics Company, although many toys and figures still maintained the Irwin marking. The company was sold in 1973, shortly following Irwin Cohn’s death.