Before the era of automobiles, in the early days of law enforcement, police reinforcements were dispatched by horse-drawn rapid-response ‘police patrol’ wagons (above). Also available were ‘Black Maria’ wagons with a secure enclosed space at the rear for transporting prisoners. New York City Police Department purchased its first ‘Black Maria’ in 1886 for $500. An actual police patrol wagon, used by the 145th Precinct in Brooklyn, NY, around the turn of the century, is preserved at the Long Island Museum (below).
Children’s riding toys reflect the full-size vehicles of the period, and Paris Mfg Co made children’s patrol wagons that were very similar to the wagons used by police forces throughout America. They were even fitted with a bell under the driver’s footboard.
1900 Paris Mfg Co ‘Police Patrol’ Wagon
11″ Front Wheels
18″ Rear Wheels
Paris Mfg Co made ‘Police Patrol’ children’s wagons in various styles, from the 1890s to the early years of the twentieth century. Early models had a different body shape, and a more basic fitting where the yoke joins the front axle. This style of yoke fitting (below) appears to have come into use around 1900. As you can see in the photo below, wooden axles can easily get damaged, and later coaster wagons had steel axles.
PARIS MFG CO
South Paris, Maine, USA
Henry F Morton was born in 1839. Paris Mfg Co had its roots in his kitchen where, in 1861, he made sleds while his wife (and later his son) painted them. As sales increased, he opened a shop. The new company’s first factory in South Paris was destroyed by a fire in 1886. When Morton died in 1900 his sons took over the business. The high quality of PMC’s products ensured they were purchased by top department stores, such as Macy’s and Siegal, with some orders totalling $10,000. They were also exported around the world. The company is still in existence.
The Marshall Field department store catalogue illustration above is from 1906-07. A similar model is advertised in the 1895 catalogue, below. The main difference appears to be the stencil script on the side of the wagon.
The steel-bodied Police Patrol advert below is c1895.
‘Police Patrol’ wagons became a genre, and various companies made them. The one below was built by Wilkinson Mfg Co (best known for their ‘Express’ coaster wagons).
PARIS MFG CO SHOP, c1900
Paris Mfg Co store photo from the book – ‘Great Sleds & Wagons’ by Joan Palacia (Schiffer)
Paris Mfg Co history & two catalogue pictures from the book – ‘Coasters on Wheels’ by Gordon Westover (Tate Publishing)