Country Living (USA)

Ir­win Corp. San­tas

- Toys · Consumer Goods

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.

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