Today we have a pretty old, and rather simple toy made by the Gong Bell Manufacturing Company of Connecticut. The company was founded in 1866 by H.H. Abbe, E.C. Barton, E.C. Cone, and A.H. Conklin. They specialized in cast iron, steel, and wooden/Masonite toys and if I'm not mistaken I had one of their hand-crank play wooden phones back in the '50s. It was decorated in a cowboy/ranch motif (as was my room) and fit in perfect with all the Western toys I had as a kid. The company switched to wartime production during WWII making parts for parachutes and resumed toy production in the post-war years. Competition and a loss of interest by the buying public in cast iron and wooden/Masonite toys led to their demise in the 1960s.
Because of it's large size at nearly 11 1/2" (29.2cm) H, today's toy is often found listed as a salesmen's display or countertop store display by people unfamiliar with the Gong Bell Mfg Co., but they forget just how big many toys were back in the day and this would have looked just fine alongside Marx or Buddy L cars and trucks (okay, maybe not all Buddy L cuz they made some BIG toys). The call box has a bell inside which rings when you turn the handle and the base comes off to accommodate a 'D' cell battery (I wonder how long dry cell batteries lasted back then?). Unfortunately my light mechanism doesn't work but the piece 'displays well'. The street signs read 'MAIN STREET' and 'STATE STREET' and would have had a nice nickel plating applied to them. I have no exact dates for this piece but it can be 1920s or '30s. Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina