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Stuart History

The Stuart Manufacturing Company was founded by Samuel W. Levinson in Cincinnati, Ohio. An old city directory lists the location at 9 E. Third Street from approximately 1948 to 1954. The company was making a series of children's night lights at 215 W. Fourth Street when Dexter Balterman bought into the company. Levinson sold the company to Balterman in 1953 but stayed on to help him run Stuart. The name Stuart was chosen because Mr. Levinson liked the sound of it. Stuart produced miniature Western figures, accessories and horses from 1953 to 1969. The Stuart promotional slogan was "Stuart quality is first quality".

C.F. Block and Associates, in Chicago, created a 1953 Roy Rogers Ranch set premium for Post Cereal (See Cereal Premium). Block offered the premium figures to Stuart, which they could market when the premium expired in 1954. Dexter Balterman remembered the day Stuart was offered the figures. Stuart created their own complimentary line and marketed them in different colors and sets. The Roy Rogers figures were marketed as character figures, in sets such as TV Cowboys, Texas TV Rancher and Home on the Range. Within a year or two Stuart was marketing the toys at the NY Toy Fair (top left photo).

In 1958 Samuel Levinson retired from Stuart. Increased Western toy sales moved Stuart to 337 W. Fifth Street, which was run by Balterman. Levinson stayed at the 215 Fourth Street address to start another company - The Anchor Buggy and Carriage Company, a name he had gotten permission to use in 1935, to make exact miniature model carriages and horses (see Anchor History).

The Stuart Manufacturing Company also sold quality science sets, a Wonder Wheel Designer (spirograph), bazooka, Spin-a-Plates (circus style), Jr. Gearshift, Changeabout Doll Houses and a Stuart's Prize Animal Farm. The Stuart logo changed in the 1960s from the diamond shape to an asterisk shape with "A Stuart Toy" inside.

By 1965 Western heroes disappeared from television and Stuart's western toy sales dropped. Stuart once again changed direction. The company moved to 1455 Dalton Street and Dexter Balterman retired from the company - around 1970, selling Stuart to plant manager, Phillip D. Gossard. By then the company was specializing in customized packaging which it still makes.

According to Phillip D. Gossard, the Stuart Western molds were destroyed, which makes collecting and preserving these toys and their history even more important. Today they are collected and loved again by many who played with them as children.

Photo captions - (Above left) Dexter Balterman and salesman at a NY Toy Fair; (center) The old Stuart building at Fourth St.; (right) Dexter Balterman and son, Andrew, with a Cavalry Patrol set.

Many thanks to the people who contributed information and photos to the Stuart articles and Web site - especially Andrew Balterman, Dexter and Alice Balterman, Steve Bluhm, Joseph Levinson, Phillip D. and Phillip G. Gossard, Clarence and John Block and the Cincinnati Historical Museum. Without their help, preserving this history would have been impossible. Also many thanks to the Stuart collectors and toy dealers who contributed.
- Lizabeth West