1868: Founded as the Novelty Iron Works by Edward H. and Charles Morgan in 1868, conducted business in two small buildings with a staff of ten people.
1874: The company expanded and erected a larger structure at the cost of $25,000. They continued at the new location until 1885, when the Novelty Iron Works was discontinued and reorganized as the Arcade Manufacturing Company by Albert Baumgarten, Cyrus Tobias and Edward H. Morgan.
1885: Arcade Manufacturing was incorporated and originally occupied a one-story building on Chicago Street in Freeport. The company grew and prospered, becoming well-known for producing high-quality cast iron coffee mills, spring hinges, cork extractors and stove dampers.
1891: The company moved their location but that building was destroyed by fire in 1892. Construction began on a new factory and foundry immediately. Operations were resumed in 1893 at a newly platted site which became known as the Arcade Addition. Local Freeporters still refer to this area of town as "The Arcade."
1896: The first products of Arcade were a cork extractor and a screen door hinge, but within two years they began assembling box type coffee mills. Later the product line included lid lifters, small notions and novelties. Arcade produced a lot of "Champion" barscrews. They are frequently found marked CHAMPION, PAT. SEPT. 7, 1897 and DES. PAT. JUN 9, 1896 for patents issued to Michael Redlinger.
1897: Important inventions by Edgar and Charles Morgan in the late 1800s enabled the company to introduce a variety of attractive wall mills. These included their Telephone Mills, their X-Ray and Royal models, the Jewel, the Bell, and the Golden Rule, among others. Production of coffee mills continued until well into the 1930s. Arcade's most popular mill, "The Crystal" was first made after the turn of the 20th century.
1900: Mills were mounted on boards to make them easier to attach to the side of a kitchen cabinet. The toleware metal bean hopper was an attempt by Arcade in the early 20th century to gain some of the market share held by companies like Enterprise, who made similar items but the Crystal proved so much more popular, that Arcade didn't produce this one for very long.
1900s: The Arcade Company is most famous for its cast iron toys. Their toys included doll houses and furniture, cars, trucks, buses, planes, farm vehicles and pint-sized farm tools sturdy enough to use in an actual garden.
1908: The animal banks were made in 1908. The horse was first and Arcade made horses in a variety of different poses. Due to the success of the horse, a lion, seal, pig, buffalo, cow, rhinoceros and even a rat was added. Many more animal banks followed in 1910, along with other bank figures such as a safe, clock and mailbox.
1921: In 1921 Isaac P. Gassman, secretary and sales manager, went to Chicago to visit a friend who was a former resident of Freeport and, at the time, was president of Yellow Cab Company. The two men agreed that Arcade would manufacture a miniature copy of the well-known Yellow Cab. At the time, toys were only 5% of the Arcade line. The Yellow Cab sold so well that Arcade dedicated itself to larger, more expensive but well made toys.
1922: City kids bought the Yellow Cab as fast at they were available, but The Yellow Cab sold well among town boys, but most country kids had never seen a cab. In 1922 the first farm toy was made, the Toy Fordson Tractor. It's rumored that the driver on the toy tractor is Henry Ford himself. Plows and trailers were also made, with the slogan "Tiny Plows for Tiny Plowmen!"
1923: In 1923 Arcade created toys with girls in mind. The Toy Food Chopper which looks like a meat grinder was advertised with "Devoted doll mothers will refuse to feed their children anything but chopped food after trying out this Arcade toy food chopper." The Food Chopper was followed by a toy stove and eventually an entire toy doll house. The doll house's walls were made of cardboard but the furniture was sturdy cast iron.
1926: By 1926, Arcade had sales offices in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. That same year the "Tiny Arcadians" made their first appearance. These were tiny elf like creatures that supposedly made the toys which were similar to the fairy tail shoemaker's elves.
1927: A storybook about the Tiny Arcadians was published.
1933: The 1933 Worlds Fair was in Chicago, and Arcade made a fleet of toy Worlds Fair busses.
1945: During World War II the factory made war goods. In 1945 the company was sold to the Rockwell Manufacturing Company.
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