Chein toys, NY City and Harrison, New Jersey, founded by one-armed, one-time Vaudeville performer Julius Chein began with a metal-stamping operation in a loft in New York City in 1903. The company produced small tin prizes for the Cracker Jack boxes and other small toys for five and dime stores. Although the Chein Company made the advertising tins that we collect in its later years, its reputation is built on the nostalgic tin toys and tin banks that are so collectible.

Chein Roller coaster toys

chein rollercoasterRobert Beckleman, the last president of Chein Industries Inc., says that Julius Chein had a friend with the American Can Company who convinced the toy maker to lithograph designs on metal instead of painting them. American Can did the litho work for them until 1907, when Chein opened a plant in Harrison, New Jersey. They manufactured lithographed noisemakers, horse-drawn carts and coin banks which were sold mainly through the Woolworth chain stores.

Julius Chein was killed in a riding accident in 1926. He fell or was knocked from his horse, in Central Park, although there are variations on the story of his death.

He was known for his violent temper, and was known to fly into a rage over something that went wrong at the plant.

Stories tell that he had even been known to take off his watch, throw it on the floor, and jump on it when he was angry.

Merry Go Round

chein ferris wheel toyIt is rumored that he died of an apoplectic fit when his horse refused to jump. All that is documented, of course, is that he was riding his horse when he was killed. Chein had a disability that may have attributed to his bad temperament. He lost one of his arms as a child in a fireworks explosion. He had been fooling around with fireworks, which went off and blew off his arm (or part of it).

Some of the most collectible Chein toys are: The Ferris wheel, which Chein produced since the 1930s, Roller Coasters (since 1949), the Playland Merry-Go-Round (1950). The Space Ride and the larger Rocket Ride came along in the early 1950s.

The company was sold to Atlantic Products in 1987, at which time the name was changed to Atlantic Cheinco. In 1992, the company filed for bankruptcy.

Resources

Book: J. Chein & Co.: A Collector's Guide to an American Toymaker

Chein questions & answers6 comments

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John - October 29, 2013

Hi, Did Chein make a Bunny pulling a Rabbit Roost Cart that had four holes in the cart to hold the sheet metal together instead of four stamped fasteners?
►reply: Unfortunately I am not a Chein expert, but maybe you can try and locate this book on Chein toys: J. Chein & Co.: A Collector's Guide to an American Toymaker.

Bev Clark - July 2, 2013

I am interested in the Chein bonzo on scooter toy, or even just the Bonzo figure. Do you have one?
►reply: No, I don't have one Bev, sorry! Search frequently on this website and maybe someday one will popup.

Dora Koch - June 3, 2013

I have still in the box a Tiny train Top No 206 very good shape could u send me info on this
►reply: I also cannot find any info. What you can do is try to locate a similar train with help from Google images. Search with for example (click): chein train.

Phyllis - October 7, 2012

I have wind up rocket ride, J chein stamp on it. I have seen similar ones, but none that have the wind up key like on them. They have a lever that pulls over to wind it. 4 rockets, plastic props that are mostly torn up. but in fair condition. still works info on it please.

Scott Dobyanski - April 19, 2012

I recently bought a windup 'handstand clown.' The key turns but the toy does not function as made. I have seen some with orange hands but this one has yellow hands. The graphics are still good better than the ones listed on this site. Could you provide me with a value? I paid $25 for it.
►reply: Here is a list of completed auctions of Chein Clowns

Jeff Jackson - August 8, 2011

I have a Busy Mike sand monkey toy I was wanting information on. What year it was made and what it might be worth. THANK YOU

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