Monday, July 13, 2009

1940s Mechanical Coin Operated Horse Kiddie Ride

This past weekend I attended one of my favorite outdoor antique markets. As I pulled in the drive, I spotted this incredible kiddie ride at one of the first booths. It just looked like it was waiting for me...

Horse kiddie rides are, in my opinion, the ultimate toy collectible. Who doesn't have childhood memories of riding a mechanical horse outside their local grocery store or at a roadside amusement park, and wishing fervently that they could take it home? All you needed was a quarter (or earlier, just a penny or nickel) and the ride would begin, the horse "galloping" off, taking you far away from your everyday world.

I never thought I would be able to own one of these myself: most mechanical horses are quite large and incredibly heavy. But this one is smaller than commonly seen, about 40 inches tall by 40 inches wide, and thus just the right size for my little living room. The horse was made right around 1940 by the Allen Herschell Company of North Tonawanda, New York, a maker of carousel horses since 1915 (with an earlier incarnation of the company dating back to 1873). He still works after all these years, gently gliding up and down, taking us off to parts unknown.

(Click the arrow below to see him in motion.)


  1. It almost looks like it was originally used as something else, because the horse has some type of harness instead of a saddle. I'm thinking it may have once been part of a "pony cart" ride, and later made into a coin-op ride.

    Just guessing.

  2. Yeah, we thought that too. When I was little (in the 70s), horses with this type of harness usually were pulling those tiny coin op stagecoaches. As we stripped the paint off, we noticed a decorative piece on his bridle, that holds his forelock up into sort of a pouf, like a circus horse, and then we remembered circus horses wear these sorts of harnesses too, so in our repaint we're going with a circus pony look. It should be done this week, and I'll post some pictures.

  3. Wow, that coin op horse would be a GREAT addition to my house! If I had it, I'd ride it all day!!!!!