Today I found one of the toys of my dreams: an antique rocking horse. As with my mechanical coin-op horse, I've wanted an antique rocker forever, but their typically large size has always been a problem in my small, crowded place of residence. Now, however, I've found this little beauty: a kiddie sized American horse, probably made by Whitney Reed, dating between 1900 and 1915, and measuring only 28 inches high by 31 inches wide. It's the perfect size for a large teddy bear, and I have several who are already lining up for their turns.
Here's a close-up of his beautiful head, with its real hair mane:
Update, one week later: I've just found some original advertising for my horse!
It's a huge bonus to find documentation for an old toy, and here's what I've found about this guy. (Thank you, interlibrary loan service!)
It turns out his frame design was patented in 1878 by Philip J. Marqua and Brothers, a family woodworking firm in Cincinatti, Ohio.
The Marqua design was known as a "swing stand", with this variation called a "center swing horse". It was created as an alternative to the bow shaped rocker of the classic rocking horse, and was intended, in the words of its creator, to prevent "the objectionable features" from these traditional horses "now in use -- these objections are noise, wear and tear of carpets, liability to upset, and too much room taken up for operating or packing for shipment."
These were all common problems with large horses on traditional curved rockers, which made a racket as they swept back and forth along wooden floors, eventually wore a track into carpets due to the same motion, took up a large amount of space, and frequently flipped over during energetic rocking.
Here's the company's advertisement for the horse, as seen in the 1912 Sears Roebuck catalog. This one is a bit bigger than mine; they offered the same horse in several sizes:
And here's a photo of a horse on the same frame, dating from 1914. This horse is different, it looks like it may be a skin horse, but the interesting thing is that the frame is just like mine: painted and stencilled on the large central support bar, but not on the side rails. I had wondered if my side rails were replacements since they didn't have the red paint of the rest of the frame, but this photo answers that question. Based on this ad and photo, I think my horse is all original except for his stirrups, which I'll be removing.
Here's another ad for my horse, this one from the 1914 Butler Brothers catalog. This horse is attributed to Whitney Reed, and is almost identical to mine.