c.1924 Girard, Gasoline Alley Garage and Two Bear Cat Racers in Original Box

c.1924 Girard, Gasoline Alley Garage and Two Bear Cat Racers in Original Box

Very early lithographed tinplate three piece set includes garage, two clockwork racers, and unbelievable original box. This set is one of the oldest toys manufactured by the Girard Model Works, Inc.. Every piece is unmarked and is virtually impossible to identify without the original box. Although I've seen a single racer (usually rusted, not working, and incorrectly identified) I've never found a complete high grade set. It's also the first box I've seen for the toy. 

I could find no reference to this toy. That includes Joe and Sharon Freed's comprehensive book, "Collector's Guide to American Transportation Toys". I could also find no cross reference to correlate the "Gasoline Alley Garage" to the famous comic strip of the same name. 

Several factors led to the assignment of it's 1924 circa date. The company was incorporated in 1921. The Girard logo which featured their motto, "Making Childhood's Hour Happier" was first used in 1923.  The archaic design was typical of this period. Girard known for their pressed steel toy used tinplate only for a brief time. The Louis Marx Company acquired the company in 1934. 

Girard produced toys for both Strauss and Marx in the early 1920's, however there's one point that remains a mystery. The office address printed on the box is New York, 200 Fifth Avenue. This is also the address for Marx's corporate offices. Despite my research I couldn't determine why Marx address was used. 

Both Bear Cat racers are identical. Each has a warm yellow body with black highlights and red wheels. The number 8 appears on the tail behind the driver. It's also embossed on the tin plated front grille. They have a separate embossed driver who sits low in the seat showing only the top part of the head. The front axle can be positioned to cause the racer to run straight or in circles. Each has its original radiator ornament. The radiator and front axle are held in place by a metal rod. It's pierced through the grill and then looped back around the front axle. The keys are attached. Both work beautifully. 

The garage was lithographed with colors that matched the two racers. For added realism extensive detail on the front door, around the base, and underneath the windows was used. The door is hinged  and latched to open and close. It accommodates a single racer. The windows are die cut and the roof is corrugated. 

The original box shows two young lads at play with one racer and the garage. Although the main panels indicate that the toy came with only a single racer, the side flaps distinctly point out that the complete set consisted of "twin bearcat racers". To get everything inside the box one vehicle would be packed inside the garage while the other would fit loose.

Size: Racers (length just slightly less than 6¾". Garage: 6¾" x 3¾" x 3½". 

Sold: Jul. 2006

Price Sold: $ 676


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Subject: c.1924 Girard, Gasoline Alley Garage and Two Bear Cat Racers in Original Box

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