Founded as the Novelty Iron Works by Edward H. and Charles Morgan in 1868, the forerunner of the Arcade Manufacturing Company conducted business in two small buildings with a staff of ten people. In 1874 the company expanded, erecting a new and larger structure at the cost of $25,000. They continued at the new location until 1885, when the Novelty Iron Works was discontinued and reorganized as the Arcade Manufacturing Company by Cyrus Tobias, Edward H. Morgan and Albert Baumgarten. The first products of the Arcade factory were a cork extractor and a screen door hinge, but within two years they began assembling box type coffee mills and other small cast iron machinery for home use. In 1888 their first toy, a miniature box coffee mill was made. In 1908 the animal banks started. The horse was first, and Arcade made horses in a variety of different poses. Later a lion, seal, pig, buffalo, cow, rhinoceros and even a rat was added. More animal banks followed in 1910, along with other bank figures such as a safe, clock and mailbox. They made coffee grinders from their inception until the 1930s. Edgar and Charles Morgan invented new grinders for Arcade in their early years.
In 1921, secretary and sales manager Isaac P. Gassman went to Chicago to visit a friend who was a former resident of Freeport and, at the time, was president of Yellow Cab Company. The two men agreed that Arcade Mfg. would manufacture a miniature copy of the well-known Yellow Cab. As late as 1939, Arcade's toy line included over 300 toy items. Yellow Cab was their first successful toy. Andy Gump and Chester Gump in His Pony Cart were other popular toys for collectors. Arcade also made toy banks, doll house furniture and cast-iron penny toys.
The Rockford (Illinois) Morning Star of September 10, 1939, announced: 'Arcade plant, one of the largest toy manufacturing concerns in the country, has been operating at top speed during recent weeks to complete the vast quantity of trucks, autos, buses, plows, banks,lawnmowers, hatchets, vises, wrecking cars, ice wagons, windmills, bowling alleys, stoves, circus wagons, fire engines and numerous other articles that soon will be delivered to retail counters throughout the world.'
In 1946 Arcade was purchased by Rockwell Manufacturing Company of Buffalo, New York but ceased operations in 1953.
What's your 'Arcade' worth? Here are some recently sold items (USA):