When Charles and Samuel Dowst of Chicago purchased a fancy new Linotype machine in the 1890s, their intent was to use it to ready their firm’s flagship product, “National Laundry Journal,” for publication. But the Dowst brothers quickly realized that if their machine could cast lead into the shapes of letters and numerals for a printing press, it could also be customized to produce small objects of almost any shape. Soon, the brothers had outstripped the capabilities of their Linotype machine, casting and selling all sorts of “metal novelties” in the shapes of animals, whistles, and vehicles—the kinds of objects one might find in a box of Cracker Jacks, on the board game Monopoly, or dangling from a charm bracelet.

Cast lead model cars and other vehicles became a mainstay for the company in the years just prior to World War I. In 1911, Dowst Brothers introduced its first model car in the shape of a limousine. That was followed in 1915 by a Model T Ford. And then, in 1922, these model cars and a new line of dollhouse furniture were given the brand name of Tootsietoy, named after the illegitimate daughter of Theodore Dowst, son of Samuel, who was a bookkeeper at Dowst Brothers (the mother was a secretary at the company at the time, and the couple eventually married).

During the 1920s, the company’s lines expanded to include model cars and trucks of numerous makes and models, model airplanes, miniature candlestick telephones, and water pistols capable of shooting a “stream of water ten to twelve feet.” There were sports cars and buses, fire trucks and tractors, and in 1927, Tootsietoy was the first company to sell a toy version of the new Ford Model A, which came in green, red, blue, and khaki, in a box of the same color.

In the 1930s, the company weathered the Great Depression by keeping its prices low and giving customers something to smile about. Both of these impulses were satisfied by the Tootsietoy Funnies cars, whose designs were taken from newspaper funny-page characters such as Moon Mullins and Andy Gump—they were packed six to a box for only a dollar. The 1930s were also the years when Tootsietoy introduced its famous Graham line (1932), a collection of Mack trucks (1933), and the sleek LaSalles and DoodleBugs (1935). These last cars were produced using a zinc alloy called Zamak, which was a harder material than lead but more susceptible to oxidization.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

A History of Pre-War Tootsietoys

A History of Pre-War Tootsietoys

Robert Newson’s homage to the research of Clint Seeley is a Tootsietoy collector’s dream come true. Organized a… [read review or visit site]

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood

Embrace your inner child on this website from the Victoria and Albert Museum, filled with high-quality images and i… [read review or visit site]

The Wheelmen

The Wheelmen

This elegant tribute to turn-of-the-century bicycling includes memorabilia, photographs, and an index of 3140 bicyc… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Nice Vintage Tootsietoy Funnies Series Smitty & Herbie Motorcycle With SidecarTootsietoy No.187 Mack Car Transport With Three CarsTootsietoy "around The World With Speedy Aeroplanes"Vintage 1935 Brn Tootsietoy Graham Convertible Sedan No.515 Diecast Car 1:43 M/fVintage Tootsietoy Car 1935 Lasalle Sedan Brown Orig BumpersVintage Tootsietoy Metal Diecast Trucks And Cars Tootsie Toy Lot Nr Tootsie Toy Race Car, Circa 1935, Indianapolis Style,Vintage Toy Cars Lot Of 42 Tootsietoy, Hot Wheeles, And MidgetoyTootsietoy Six Tire Coupe Yellow And Orange In Very Good ConditionLot - Vintage Hot Wheels Matchbox, Aurora Cigar Box Tootsie Toy Johnny LightningTootsietoy No.0116 Ford Roadster With No.1043 Small House TrailerVintage Die Cast Tootsietoy Military/army Graham Camouflaged Ambulance #0809Vintage Tootsietoy Miniature Diecast Red Wagon 1950's HtfVintage 1940 Blue Tootsietoy Lasalle Sedan No. 230 Diecast Car 1:64 M/fTootsietoy-1960 No.4301 Tootsietoy Farm-set Rare "all Original" Completely Mint!Tootsietoy Chrysler ThunderboltVintage 1937 Tootsietoy U.s Navy Waco Bomber Biplane AirplaneVintage Tootsietoy Toy Autogyro Airplane Circa 1930'sTootsietoy- 1947 Mack-l-line Dump Truck 5-1/2 In. W/ Rare Shovel From Set Mint!!Tootsietoy- 1956 (rare) Ford-f-700 Army Stake Truck W/ Tin Cap "all Orig." N/m+!Rare Tootsie Toy 1962 Ford Galaxie Orange Station Wagon With U-haul Trailer! Vintage Tootsietoy Red Mack Truck & Trailer Diecast Used Usa Hauling 1950s MetalVintage Tootsie Toy Barclay Hauler Car Transporter2 Airplane Piggyback Fighter Jet Tootsietoy Barclay Manoil Vintage Slush Metal Streamline Racer Bluebird Tootsietoy Barclay Vintage Tootsietoy 1935 Ford Roadster**excellent ConditionVintage 1937 Tootsietoy Twa Dc-2 Toy Airplane OriginalTootsietoy 1934 Ford Sedan - All Original1920/30's Antique Vintage Tootsie Toy Doll House Furniture - Farm Kitchen SinkTootsietoy 1934 Ford Coupe1954 Tootsietoy Cadillac With Chris Craft Boat Tee Nee And Trailer RestoredTootsietoy Graham Four Wheel Bild-a-car CoupeVintage 1940 Red Tootsietoy Auburn Boattail Roadster No.233 Diecast Car 1:64 M/fTootsietoy Graham Four Wheel Bild-a-car SedanVintage Tootsie Toy Tootsietoy Lot Of 11 Street Highway Or Roadway SignsVintage Tootsietoy #3 Race Car & TrailerTootsietoy No.0616 Graham Six Wheel Town CarVintage Tootsietoy 11 Piece Car Set Diecast Toy Cars W/trailers Boat Made In UsaVintage Tootsietoy Tow Truck WreckerVintage Tootsietoy Red Mack Truck & Trailer Diecast Used Usa Hauling 1950s MetalTootsietoy Ford Station Wagons 1959Vintage Tootsietoy Red Pickup Truck Diecast Used Usa 1950s Metal Silver Wheels Vintage Tootsie Toy Tanker Truck Gas Oil DeliveryVintage Tootsietoy Semi Tractor & Trailer Truck / 9" Long / BlueVintage Tootsietoy 1947 Orange Hud-son Diecast Metal Truck Toy Used Usa HudsonVintage Collection Of 7 Assorted Tootsie Toy Cast Iron/metal Cars And TrucksTootsietoy #231 Blue Chevy Coupe Pre-war 1940-41 Free Shipping!!!Tootsietoy Jam Pac 8 Cars Porsche Mustang Jeep Volkswagon Rat Rod 1971cVintage Tootsietoy Red Trailer Diecast Used Usa 1950s Metal Silver Black WheelsVintage Tootsietoy Chicago Green Mack Truck & Orange Trailer Diecast Used Usa VgOrange Tootsietoy #239 Station Wagon Usa Made Lot 8-175Vintage 1974 Tootsietoy Hitch-ups Van, Motorcycle & Trailer Original Package Vintage Tootsietoy Collectible 1950 Red Chevrolet Panel Truck Toostsie Toy ChevyTootsietoy Classic Series - 4 Cars1930s Tootsie Toy Greyhound Bus With White Rubber TiresSola Electric Tootsie Toy Advertising Tractor Trailer Made In Chicago 6 1/2"Vintage Tootsietoy Jam Pac Nos - Opened Container1930s Tootsie Toy Dairy Tanker Truck With White Rubber Tires Antique Vintage Early Tootsietoy Tootsie Toy Airplane Vintage Tootsietoy Train Lot Vintage Diecast Toy Lot