Albert Schoenhut, a German immigrant, began producing piano toys in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1872. Thereafter, Schoenhut's toy production expanded to include dolls, dollhouses, blocks, and other wooden toys. In 1903, Schoenhut applied for a patent for a clown toy that would become one of the most popular American toys of all time. By 1904, the company was producing the Humpty Dumpty Circus in great numbers. The circus, at that time, included the clown, elephant, white horse, poodle, and hobo.
The Humpty Dumpty Circus was a great hit. The circus personal grew over the years to include a Lady Circus Rider, Lady Acrobat, Ringmaster, Gent Acrobat, Negro Dude (a minstrel), Chinese Acrobat, and a Lion Tamer. Animals included an Alligator, Brown Bear, Polar Bear, Buffalo, Bulldog, Burro, Arabian Camel, Bactrian Camel, Cat, Cow, Deer, Donkey, Elephant, Giraffe, Gazelle, Goat, Goose, Gorilla, Hippopotamus, Brown Horse, White horse, hyena, Kangaroo, Leopard, Lion, Monkey, Ostrich, Pig, Poodle, Rabbit, Rhinoceros, Sea Lion, Sheep, Tiger, Wolf, Zebra, and a Zebu. The 1906 "Everybody's Magazine" ad shown above illustrates some of the performers available at that time. Most early animals had glass eyes which were all changed to a hand painted eye by the 1920s. Even the painted eyes were changed to a decaled eye in many animals as another cost savings measure.
Over the years, the Schoenhut company made many other wooden toys including wooden doll houses and doll furniture, musical instruments such as xylophones and banjos, push and pull toys, and many others.
Don't miss this website: The schoenhut Collectors Club with lots of information on toys and dolls by Schoenhut.