iTopSpin

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

News:

Author Topic: Duncan 1st generation tops  (Read 6154 times)

ta0

  • Administrator
  • Olympus member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9216
    • www.ta0.com
Duncan 1st generation tops
« on: January 13, 2011, 09:41:57 PM »

Takeshi asked me the other day if I could date the Duncan Yankee Boy in the flag card:



Well, I told Takeshi that I didn't know, nobody had been able to tell me and I had asked people like Bob Rule. My guess was that it was from early to middle 1950's. Takeshi did some more asking around and got a consensus that it was probably early 50's but not for sure. In particular, Steve Brown said they were, to his knowledge, late 40s and early 50s but it was difficult to verify.

This exchange motivated me to do a little more research. In this 1962 issue of Clips from Clyde, the internal newsletter from Duncan, they announce the new line of tops:



These are what Steve called 2nd generation Duncan tops on a list he once posted on the old UFT forum. The first generation included the Yankee Boy. Surprisingly it announces: "The first new product in a quarter of a century . . ." It obviously was not referring to just models of products (like different yo-yos). But if spintops were a new product, that would put the older tops (I guess discontinued) as pre 1937! That couldn't be right.

However, the price of 25 cts was a little surprising. The Yankee was obviously a premium top: it has the shaped steel point, "northern hard maple", good size, very nice card. The ones sold in 1963 went from 29ct (Chicago Twister) to $1 (Whistler).  So it would be reasonable that the Yankee cost at least the equivalent to 50 cts, 1963 dollars. I used an online inflation calculator and for 50cts to become 25cts I had to go all the way back to  . . . 1938!

Next I looked in Lucky's guide to collecting yo-yos. Unfortunately, I could not find any Yankee Boy yo-yo or a similar flag card. But it mentioned that the address on the cards could be used to date yo-yos. If it said Luck, Wi, it was pre-1965, for example. It also said that Duncan made the yo-yo's in Chicago until it opened its own plant in Luck in 1946.  Well, I looked at the flag card I have and in the back it says: "835 N. Wood ST., Chicago 22, ILL."

Finally, I wrote to Lucky himself. He didn't know specifically about the top but he wrote:
"I would guess late 30s early 40s.  Duncan's address changed to Luck, WI in 1946.  They made very few yo-yos and tops during the war years (41-45) due to lack of supplies and work force that was at war. Nice Find."

So it seems the Yankee Boy is probably pre-war but Duncan stop producing tops for a while until 1962.

I got excited about the results so I extended the research to the other 1st gen Duncan tops. More later.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2011, 11:29:07 PM by ta0 »
Logged

Eric

  • Superhero member
  • ******
  • Posts: 505
    • Eric's Photo Website
Re: Duncan 1st generation tops
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2011, 09:44:38 PM »

Typo in the first line?
====
Note from ta0: Corrected  :-[
« Last Edit: January 13, 2011, 09:48:32 PM by ta0 »
Logged
To everything turn, turn, turn..................

the Earl of Whirl

  • Olympus member
  • ***********
  • Posts: 5731
    • St. Jacob Lutheran with a tops page
Re: Duncan 1st generation tops
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2011, 11:08:13 PM »

First new product in a quarter of a century?
Logged
Happiness runs in a circular motion!

Watts' Tops

  • Superhero member
  • ******
  • Posts: 593
    • www.wattstops.com
Re: Duncan 1st generation tops
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2011, 03:47:02 PM »

Great find.  The 62 date goes along with the beginning of the demonstrators and Jim Schreiber input.   :)
Logged
Watts' Tops
Prov. 3:5-6

Free

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 97
Re: Duncan 1st generation tops
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2011, 07:08:34 PM »

That's a very cool find. I like that kind of info tracking
Logged

ta0

  • Administrator
  • Olympus member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9216
    • www.ta0.com
Re: Duncan 1st generation tops
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2011, 10:41:28 PM »

The other 1st generation Duncan tops, according to Steve, were the Spike Point, Double Header and Yo-Yo Man.
I always assumed the Spike Points were the first ones because they are the simplest ones: they don't even have any markings. I think I can still recognize them by the size, shape and specially the paint job (Alan has one). The only one I have seen in the bag and card is this one:



But notice the price: 29ct! That is more than the Yankee Boy even though it should be a cheaper top. Was then the Spike Point a later model? It is clear that at least in this case it was, although the same model could have been sold for several years. But this got me curious what the card would say. Then I remembered the other Duncan I had seen with a similar card, a Double Header at the National Yo-Yo Museum in Chico:



(The price is 49ct, but it makes sense that it would be more expensive than the Spike Point.) I wrote to Richy Nye, who passed the question to Bob Malowney. This was his answer: "I popped the case open and confirmed the Double Header package states: Donald F. Duncan Inc., Chicago, Illinois." So these tops would also probably be pre-war, but (at least these examples) newer than the Yankee.

The last of the 1st gen tops is the Yo-Yo Man, which is a top with the Duncan Yo-Yo Man on the crown:



Except for the logo mine seems to be identical to Alan's Spike Point. But according to Steve there are some with plastic tips, the first known Duncan tops with them.  So this is a clue that this top may be a transition between the 1st and 2nd gens.  The other clue is the yo-yo man himself. According to Lucky's book, the character was first introduced by Duncan in 1947 and the square nose version was used throughout the 50s. So these are definitely post war.

In conclusion the Yankee Boy on the flag card is the earliest of the ones pictured above and the Yo-Yo man the latest. And the low price on the high-end Yankee, compared to the Spike Point, is suggestive that it could even be early 30s.  Duncan started producing yo-yos in 1929. Interestingly, the Duncan yo-yos for tournaments in the 30's had a "gold seal" and the Yankee boy also has gold seal decal.

« Last Edit: January 15, 2011, 10:29:09 AM by ta0 »
Logged

ta0

  • Administrator
  • Olympus member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9216
    • www.ta0.com
Re: Duncan 1st generation tops
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2013, 05:09:06 PM »

I just scored my most important Duncan collectible: a mint box of a dozen double headers!  Great graphics, all complete: 12 tops, 12 strings and 12 instruction sheets!  ;D



I always assumed "double-header" was a sports (baseball) term, but it is actually locomotive.

And there is a copyright date on the instructions sheets: 1938! Finally, a hard date. 
The address is from Chicago, but different from the Yankee Boy:



Now the kicker: the box has a printed price of just 10ct !  :o  That is surprisingly low and may push up the date I had estimated for the other tops.
Logged

lincolnrick

  • Hyperhero member
  • ********
  • Posts: 1203
Re: Duncan 1st generation tops
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2013, 06:14:55 PM »

 :o :o :o
Logged

Daveid

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 291
  • pinwheels
Re: Duncan 1st generation tops
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2013, 06:19:34 PM »

that's really cool
is that some instructions i see on the top of the box?
Logged
like I always say:dead monkeys don't fly on sticks.

Dick Stohr

  • Hyperhero member
  • ********
  • Posts: 1120
Re: Duncan 1st generation tops
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2013, 10:58:10 PM »

WOW!!!  Well done!  How much did it cost?  Can we see pics of the tops and the instructions?
Logged
Practice hard and play safe.

the Earl of Whirl

  • Olympus member
  • ***********
  • Posts: 5731
    • St. Jacob Lutheran with a tops page
Re: Duncan 1st generation tops
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2013, 08:20:56 AM »

It looks exciting!  Congratulations.
Logged

ta0

  • Administrator
  • Olympus member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9216
    • www.ta0.com
Re: Duncan 1st generation tops
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2013, 12:02:51 PM »

Quote
that's really cool
is that some instructions i see on the top of the box?
Yes, they are:



The tops have bright colors:



Contrary to the current Duncans, the string length is longer that it needs to be.

I tried a historic inflation calculator and the difference between the 10 ct price and the 49 ct of the bagged double header cannot be explained just by the more expensive being newer.  At some time between 1938 and 1946 there must have been a really big jump in the cost of playing tops (compared to the cost of other stuff)!  Perhaps because the price of tops (or wood) was not controlled during the war?
« Last Edit: January 08, 2013, 12:15:18 PM by ta0 »
Logged

silvertop

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 469
  • Don Olney does his top show in Upstate New York
    • Toy Designer and Spinning Top Collector
Re: Duncan 1st generation tops
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2013, 09:27:48 PM »

Very nice!
Logged
Don Olney
1237 E. Main St.
Rochester, NY 14609
topman@rochester.rr.com

Daveid

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 291
  • pinwheels
Re: Duncan 1st generation tops
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2013, 10:26:54 PM »

I tried a historic inflation calculator and the difference between the 10 ct price and the 49 ct of the bagged double header cannot be explained just by the more expensive being newer.  At some time between 1938 and 1946 there must have been a really big jump in the cost of playing tops (compared to the cost of other stuff)!  Perhaps because the price of tops (or wood) was not controlled during the war?

i would guess that demand for tops went up.
Logged

ta0

  • Administrator
  • Olympus member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9216
    • www.ta0.com
Re: Duncan 1st generation tops
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2014, 12:51:12 PM »

The same seller of an year ago put for auction a second box of double headers.  Somebody grabbed it within a couple of hours using the buy-it-now option, what I am not surprised (although it was almost $100 more than last time).  As a collector I had been hoping mine was the only extant one out there  :P  There could be more  :-\

Interestingly, the auction title listed the box as from 1934. On the auction I won the box had been listed as from 1937 but the copyright I found on the instructions said 1938. 
Logged