I had never heard of this toy, and I was immediately captivated. The tin Pullman car looked like a miniature suitcase from the outside, and measured 11 1/2 by 9 1/2 inches. A leather carrying handle allowed the owner to easily tote the Pullman along, perhaps on a real train trip. When opened, a miniature train car interior was revealed, complete with a porter's closet, fold-up berth with bedding, and a seating area of benches with a fold-down table. I was absolutely smitten: it was an amazing toy.
It also turned out to be an extremely rare toy. Designed by a preschool teacher in the late 1920s and made around 1930, the Playskool Pullman was reportedly only manufactured for a very brief time, perhaps only a year, before the Great Depression put a stop to the toy's production. For years and years, the Pullman eluded me. With the arrival of internet auctions, I finally saw a few, but the prices were high and the competition was fierce, due to the toy's rarity and crossover appeal to lots of different toy collectors: dollhouse lovers, toy train aficianados, tin toy fantatics, Playskool collectors. But finally, last year, I found one. The good news: it was cheap. The bad news: it looked like it had been sitting in a barn and slowly decomposing for the past 80 years. I bought it anyway, on the assumption that my mom could fix it. She did, and here it is:
Big Bear is running to catch the train, but it looks like he's too late.
Inside, the private compartment is home to
three little Steiff bears.
The porter's closet on the left was originally intended to hold the mattresses and bedding, but most Pullman owners convert it into a bathroom, as I did with these antique German dollhouse pieces.
The top berth pulls down, revealing a cozy bed complete with
sheets, blankets, and pillows.
The littlest bear is tucked in for the night,
falling asleep to the sound of the train clacking down the tracks.