I recently started watching a PBS tv show called, “History Detectives”. This show explores historical mysteries by searching out the facts, and myths that connect local folklore, family legends, and interesting objects. I found my own mystery in the following real photo postcard.
This real photo postcard is of my Grandpa, John Moran, sitting in his toy wagon on what the family referred to as “One Hundred Twenty”; per my Mom, the acreage of my Great Grandpa’s farm. The wagon was what caught my eye as I have fond memories of racing my own Radio Flyer wagon down my family’s hilly sidewalk in White Bear Lake Township, Minnesota. I wondered if Grandpa’s wagon was an early version of the Radio Flyer wagon.
I found out that Italian imigrant Antonio Pasin started by making hand-crafted, wooden wagons in 1917. My Grandpa’s wagon wasn’t wooden, but made of steel. I next found out Pasin’s toy wagon company was renamed Radio Steel and Manufacturing in 1930. It’s first steel wagon was called Radio Flyer due to Pasin’s fascination with the new invention- radio, and to honor Lindberg’s solo flight in 1927. This is where I get puzzled.
The printing process used to make this postcard was AZO TRI 1 (4 triangles pointed up in stamp box), which dates it somewhere between 1904-1918. The back is divided, so is post-1907. Grandpa was born in 1909. These dates make Grandpa’s wagon pre-Radio Flyer. The no. 4 Liberty Coaster wagon, the precursor to the Radio Flyer made by Pasin’s Liberty Coaster Company, was wooden with spoked wheels. The wagon in the above postcard has spoked wheels, but isn’t wooden and has no wording on the side. Grandpa’s wagon probably wasn’t made by Pasin’s company then. Who did make it?