| HOLIDAY INN
INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE, 1970's, pages 61 & 62
Perelman Antique Toy Museum displays
toys of America's early days
Nestled in the quaint, colonial streets of fashionable Society Hill,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, surrounded by remainders of the old and
evidence of the new, is the Perelman Antique Toy Museum, where you will
revel at America's childhood in unique antiques.
The Museum, located at 270 South Second Street, a brief stroll from
Independence Hall, has been attracting thousands of visitors from all over
the world. They are thrilled at this unusual collection of antique toys
that the Museum's owner-director, Leon J. Perelman, has brought together
in an intriguing display.
Perelman started collecting antique toys after a visit to a hobby
show while on a business trip in Iowa in the 1950s. Now, almost 3,000 toys
later, Perelman has completely renovated the historical dwelling built in
1758 by famous sea captain James Abercrombie Sr. to house three floors of
systematically arranged antique toys. Included in this display are
mechanical, animated and still toys and banks of cast iron or tin,
covering the period from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of
World War I.
The toys, all operative, represent what children in past generations
played with and enjoyed. Among the many fascinating and unusual items in
the collection are the mechanical banks.
Each bank, mostly constructed of cast iron, performs a unique
mechanical action or stunt. Mechanical banks provided a pleasant way of
saving money for the children of yesteryear. The coin receptacles, master
pieces of craftsmanship with eye-catching movable parts, touched off the
child's curiosity and lured them into the habit of saving. Not only did
these banks appeal to children, but also to the parents, who purchased
them in large quantities. A penny inserted into the slot of many of these
toy banks produced a very amusing and sometimes noisy result.
The banks depict folklore, such as the William Tell Bank with a cap
that explodes nosily when William Tell fires a penny at an apple on his
son's head, and the Jonah and the Whale Bank has Jonah sitting in a little
boat feeding a coin (instead of himself) to the whale. The Uncle Sam Bank,
patented in 1886, nods his head as if to say "thank you" when the coin
placed in his outstretched hand slips into his carpetbag.
A coin placed in the trunk of a P. T. Barnum jumbo elephant is sent
hurtling into the air where it drops into a slot on the animal's back. A
magician makes a coin disappear by raising and lowering his hat on the
coin. In every sense, the mechanical bank is truly unusual and peculiar
In addition to the toy banks, the Perelman Museum displays a wide
assortment of automatous toys. Each does what it represents by performing
one or more mechanical functions.
One such toy has U. S. Grant seated in a chair, smoking with
satisfaction as he turns his head and puffs out smoke leisurely. A
preacher at his pulpit realistically exhorts his flock, and a minstrel
swings his musical clappers vigorously in his hands.
A rare collection of animated cap pistols with fantastically shaped
and decorated handles and figures of men or animals mounted on the barrel
offer additional intrigue to the collection. Pull the trigger of one of
these creations and barrel-mounted figures react so violently that their
motion causes the cap to explode.
Equally as scarce are the iron toys in the museum. Fire engines,
hook-and ladders, stage coaches, hansom cabs, brakes, gigs and other types
of vehicles including railroad cars, circus trains and boats of every
description are exhibited.
Antique dolls, just as interesting if not more original than today's
modern counterparts, are a valuable part of the collection. There is a
walking doll produced in 1868 in Washington, D. C., a Queen Anne doll
dated 1740 and a doll made of hard rubber by Goodyear in 1851. A
three-faced doll produced in France in 1893, capable of making three
different facial expressions, is also on display along with many creations
designed after historical people and events.
Antique marbles, ranging from the size of a pea to a golf ball, a
favorite pastime for boys dating as far back as the Roman and Egyptian
empires, can be seen as well as optic toys from 1897 with graphic
depictions of battles. A fine collection of games is displayed, including
an early version of Old Maid, Snap and a game that was the forerunner of
Monopoly. The first jigsaw puzzle, made in the late 1800s can be found
The Museum is open daily to visitors for a nominal fee and is a must
for all those visiting the City of Brotherly Love. The Perelman Antique
Toy Museum offers a completely different nostalgic and educational
experience: the history of America as seen through the delightful charm of
antique toys . . . inviting you to stroll back into America's childhood.