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ANOTHER AMERICAN DIMESTORE MYSTERY

I recently acquired the item pictured below because I knew that it was an unusual, seldom seen Dimestore figure, about which very little was known. I had no idea that gathering information about the piece would be so difficult.

I have taken the liberty of assigning Bgx to the figure as the “O’Brien” reference number.

I had a Bgx in my own collection and I always considered it to be an early Barclay Bg figure, affixed to a composition base, in a pose that was like life-size statues seen in public parks across our nation, many years ago. I assume that most of these statues have been torn down in keeping with the current movement to rewrite history, but I digress.

The mounted figure alone is 2-9/16 inches tall, a little shorter than Richard O’Brien’s description of Bg which has him at 2-3/4 inches. He does sport a “French” style cap, per Richard’s description.

In researching every toy soldier reference book that I own, I could not find a photo or description of this figure. So, I emailed a photo of it to twenty-five advanced toy soldier collectors and Dimestore dealers who I know, to see if they could shed any light on it.

Barclay Bgx

One collector replied that he had three of them and he was sure that they were made by BRITAINS under the label of “statue in the park”. When I ran this commentary past an advanced BRITAINS collector/expert in the U.K., he responded that he was certain that it was not a BRITAINS product. A couple of others responded that they either owned one or had seen one at some time in the past but offered no information about its origin or identity. Barclay did sell some figures to second parties who, in turn, modified them in some way and then sold them to other markets.

For example, Barclay sold B110 cooks to a second party who added the hourglass timer and marketed them to kitchenware dealers.

I had a B110a in the original, second party box in my personal collection.

Barclay’s double decker bus, BV34, with “WELCOME TO OUR CITY” stenciled on both side of the bus, may have been sold as a memento to visitors at concession stands, in larger U.S. cities. Not all BV34’s have the stenciling.

B110a
B110a with second party label on base
BV34
Common B37a and super rare B37

Barclay’s BV88, vacationers in a convertible, with “WORLDS FAIR OR BUST” stenciled on the hood, could very well have been ordered by The 1939 Worlds Fair Administration for subsequent resale at the Fair. Very few BV88s have the stenciling but one is pictured on page 112 of Richard’s 3rd edition. Not one of the twenty-five Dimestore experts who I contacted for a photo of this variant had one with the stencil. Many had BV88s without a stencil.

B37, cadet painted as a wooden soldier, may have been created to be sold at stage presentations of the Nutcracker Suite since the timing of their debut was about the same. They obviously were not a big seller, since an original B37 is one of the ten rarest of all American Dimestores, in my opinion.

Barclay order sheet of bulk order in 1941

Above is a Barclay ORDER SHEET, dated March 25, 1941, which confirms the order of a dozen “Item no. 200 (O’Brien Bm) Jockey on horse” to the Delaware Auto Assn. in Wilmington, Del. A very unusual sale but further evidence that Barclay participated in bulk sales to secondary parties. Note the heading on the order sheet that proclaims that Barclay was a “Manufacturer of METAL TOYS and NOVELTIES”.

So, it’s not unreasonable to speculate that Barclay sold Bg figures to a second party who mounted them on a composition, pedestal base, and who then sold them to parks, libraries, and museums, who in turn sold them to the public as mementos, at their concession stands.

Because Barclay’s marketing model targeted five-and-dime, chain stores, it would however be unlikely that Barclay fabricated the composition pedestals, affixed a gold painted Bg, and marketed the mounted figures directly to parks and other civic institutions.

And so, we have yet another Dimestore mystery that will probably never be solved.

If anyone has any information or opinions on this interesting and mysterious figure, please call, email, or write to me.

This is my 12th OTS article since I published the book of my first 42 OTS articles, in August 2018.

While the hobby of collecting American Dimestores may be in its twilight years, as are many of us, there are still treasures to be found and mysteries to be resolved!

Please consider submitting an OTS article on any unusual/variant Dimestore figures or vehicles in your collection.

Stan Alekna
732 Aspen Lane;
Lebanon, PA 17042
Phone: (717) 228-2361
Email: salekna1936@yahoo.com

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