Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Workday Wednesday: Horsman Dolls and the Roth Connection

Cousin Joseph Roth and his son-in-law Lawrence Lipson were involved with the Horsman Doll Company, headquartered at 200 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, with a factory in New Jersey. Above, one of the beautiful dolls made by Horsman in 1956.

Horsman was founded right after the Civil War to manufacture baseballs and toys, as well as to distribute sporting goods like archery sets and croquet. There really was a Mr. Horsman (Edward I. Horsman) who established the company in 1865, when toy wholesaling businesses tended to locate in the Maiden Lane area of lower Manhattan. Mr. Horsman died in 1927 and is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Just before the great stock market crash of 1929, the company narrowed its focus exclusively to doll manufacturing. I don't know how or when my Roth family became part of this business, which passed out of Horsman control a few years after the market crash. I do know that when Joseph Roth died in 1945, his son-in-law Lawrence Lipson told authorities that Joseph had retired from the toy manufacturing business in 1930. Lawrence was the president of Horsman during the 1950s and he remained in charge when the company was bought by Botany Mills in 1957.

My Roth cousins remember being gifted with Horsman dolls for birthdays and holidays. One cousin remembers going to the Fifth Avenue showroom and being dazzled by the stunning displays of one gorgeous doll after another!

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