by Dr. Lori Verderame
German born toymaker, Albert Schoenhut (1848-1912) continued in the family business of toymaking. In 1872, Schoenhut established A. Schoenhut Piano Company and produced some of the earliest toy pianos and instruments for children. These durable instruments encouraged children to play the piano and other small scale instruments.
Schoenhut toy pianos are actual musical instruments that are known for their durability. Most small scale Schoenhut pianos are constructed whereas miniature hammers strike metal rods making chime sounds. The pianos are tuned with keys that are spaced out correctly so children may learn the process of playing a regular adult piano in time. Collectors amass these vintage examples of Schoenhut toy instruments for several hundreds of dollars on a regular basis.
Schoenhut introduced a line of toys including popular early 20th Century circus figure toys. Schoenhut had a successful business, based in Philadelphia, producing dolls, doll houses, wooden blocks, wooden figures, etc. While most people know Schoenhut toys for their small scale pianos, the company also produced other popular playthings. The famous Schoenhut Humpty Dumpty circus includes wooden and painted clowns in costume, a horse, and an elephant complete with circus accessories referencing the interest in traveling circuses during the early years of the 1900s. Today, a complete set of the Schoenhut Humpty Dumpty circus is worth $500 in its original box. Look for quality construction, good condition, bright pigment, and the Schoenhut brand name.
By the time of Albert’s death in 1912, the Schoenhut Company was the largest toy company in the United States. The company changed hands throughout the 20th Century but remained an important force in the history of toy manufacturing.
Get an online appraisal of your Schoenhut toy from Dr. Lori.