Who Were Fisher and Price?

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Last week’s post on the Fisher-Price Little People garage got us wondering: Who the heck were these guys, Fisher and Price?

So we dug around and discovered that the original founders of the toy company back in 1930 consisted of, yes, businessmen Herman Fisher and Irving Price, but also a children's book author and illustrator named Margaret Evans Price (yes, married to Irving, so there were actually two Prices), and a toy store owner named Helen Schelle. While the businessmen were instrumental in launching the company, it was actually the two women who collaborated on most of the company’s early, successful products, like Dr. Doodle, the duck push-pull toy pictured above that was based on a character from her children's books. Also, a lot of the early success of the company can be attributed to the fact that Helen Schelle had a lot of great connections in the incipient toy industry.

FP Queen Buzzy Bee, 1959

Still, the company is named after Herman Fisher and Irving Price, so let’s find out a little more about them.

Herman Fisher

Fisher hailed from Pennsylvania and went to Penn State. In fact, if you’ve ever spent any time on the Penn State campus, you may have seen The Fisher Plaza, which was named after him after he donated a nice chunk of change. Before founding Fisher-Price, he worked as Vice President and General Manager of All Fair, Inc., a toy and game manufacturer. When Fisher and a group of investors (including Price) unsuccessfully tried to buy All Fair Inc., they decided to start their own company instead. Here's something else interesting about Fisher: he's credited with coining the term “preschool toys” in 1934.

FP Humpty Dumpty, 1957

Irving Price

The most interesting thing I could dig up about Irving Price is that his middle name was Lanouette. Seriously, had he not married into the wealthy Evans family of New York, we may have never heard of the man. His wife Margaret was not only rich and a sort-of well-known children’s author, but her cousin Charles Evans Hughes was the 11th Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. A couple other facts about Irving: He had a fairly long career as an executive with Woolworth before retiring young and getting himself elected Mayor of East Aurora, New York! But it was really his cash that helped start Fisher-Price, and for that, the world will be forever grateful.

FP Sports Car, 1959

FP Perky Pot, 1958

FP Play Family Farm, 1968

FP Play Family Sesame Street, 1975

FP Little People McDonald's Restaurant, 1990

Have a favorite Fisher-Price toy? Let us know in the comments below!

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January 23, 2012 - 5:36am
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