1880s John Montgomery Ward Roly-Poly Nodder by Schoenhut - Only One Known
The first ever “name” baseball player bobbing head, this is the spitting image of one of the most famous and dominant pitchers of the 19th century, James Montgomery Ward, who founded the breakthrough Player’s League in 1890. Interestingly, he is wearing the uniform of the Boston Club and his trademark pillbox cap. Standing 10” tall, he is what is known as a “Roly-Poly.” Produced in the latter 19th century, these were very popular composition toys that could bounce and dance without falling over. This one has the added disunion that his head bobs, making it one of the ultimate playthings for Victorian children. In original paint with only minor wear, this one is the only baseball roly-poly one we have ever seen in all our years since 1969. In fact, we have been searching for one all these years and this fresh to the market piece is simply an incredible find. Better yet, this is the first known “player” bobbing head with J.M. Ward, predating Mantle, Mays, Maris and Clemente by nearly a century. This is by Schoenhut, perhaps the great American toymaker of the 19th century. Famed first for their pianos, they later were a leading toymaker, boosted by their incredible innovative circuses. Only the luckiest of children had a Schoenhut Circus to play with. Mustachioed head is set on a jointed mechanism, similar to the manufacture of their circus figures. In fact, we are showing here an example of a Schoenhut Roly-Poly and many characteristics are identical, including the trademark painting of the eyes. The finest baseball “toy” we have ever seen.