The Radio Flyer wagon is the most well-known of all vintage pull toy wagons and the company is still in business today. There seems to be only a handful of accurate and informative information on other brands of these types of vintage wagons.
First Toy Wagon
The first toy wagon is unknown, but the pull toy wagon seems to date way back to ancient time because miniature wheeled pull toy carts were often found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. An unusual place that they have been found is in the burial grounds of native Americans who never even built or used wagons.
Vintage pull toy wagons are believed to have been first introduced for sale in the 1880s and the basic look of the toy wagon has gone though very few changes over the years. The general construction and appearance consisted of a four-wheeled toy with a main body section and a steering handle.
The first and most famous of the vintage toy wagons was the the No. 4 Liberty Coaster. It was made entirely of wood and hand crafted by a skilled craftsman by the name of Antonio Pasin. When Pasin made his way to Chicago from Venice and after several dead end jobs, he was able to save enough money to start his own business where he worked at night building wagons and he sold them during the day.
Radio Flyer is Born
During the time Pasin made the first toy wagons, the company was known as the Liberty Coaster Company, but later it was named the Radio Steel Company. It was at this point that the steel Radio Flyer toy wagon was born. He also produced a few other products including gas cans for the military, scooters, row carts and outdoor furniture, but his true passion was pull toy wagons.
The vintage toy wagon was and still is made up of a main body portion, an undercarriage, wheels and a steering handle. The main body part is usually rectangular in shape, has a flat bottom with walls on the sides and an open top. The height of the vintage toy wagon walls varied with each model type and the steel wagons' walls curled under to prevent injury and the corners were rounded for the same reason.
An interface between the main body and wheels along with an undercarriage provided support that consisted of brackets and wheel axles. The front axle was attached to a pivoting mechanism that was fixed to the wagon body, which permitted the direction of these wheels to be rotated, but the back axle was attached to the wagon body, which allowed the wheels movement in only one direction and on both axles, the wheels were attached through a ball bearing system
The vintage toy wagon's steering handle was made of wood and later was made of steel. It was a long rod shape with a handle on the end and all of the same basic construction of the vintage pull toy wagons applies to the basic design of the toy wagon today.