|Toy Brands and Manufacturers|
|1920s - 1975|
Charbens was founded in 1920 by the brothers Charles and Benjamin Reid, who named their company after a combination of their two first names, Charles and Benjamin. Like Johillco, one of the brothers was a former employee of William Britain and as such received training in hollowcast figure and general metal toy creation from one of the most established and well-known companies in the field. This "skills leakage", where employees of one metal toy company would leave and set up their own business, ended up turning a quite small region of London into a hotbed for metal toy production, with Britains Limited, Johillco, Charbens, Taylor and Barrett and Crescent all being comparatively near neighbours.
The company's first advertisment seems to be in Games and Toys in December 1927, showing a collection of farmyard items.
Transition to plastics
Charbens started out making lead toys (some of which seemed to be copies of other older-established makers, such at Tootsietoys), and by the time of the 1960 catalogue, Charbens were supplementing their diecast metal range with a range of "unbreakable" (in other words, plastic) toys. Plastic production took over from metal during the 1960s, and Charbens eventually got taken over by another company who used their plastics production capability to make packaging.
As you know we produce a large range of Die Cast Metal Toys, Soldiers, American Soldiers, Farm Animals, Zoo Animals, Cowboys and Indians, and we are now in full production of a very wide range of unbreakable toys.
We have had the pleasure of supplying the Wholesale and Eport Trade for the last thirty years and we pride ourselves on an excellent packing and delivery service.
— , Charbens, , introduction to the 1960 catalogue, , 1960
- Charbens & Co. Ltd. – 219 Hornsey Road, London N7
- Norman Joplin, The Great Book of Hollow-Cast Figures (New Cavendish Books, 1993) ISBN 1872727263 page 118
- Charbens (gracesguide.co.uk)
- CHARBENS: "Forty years of toy vehicles from north London", by Robert Newson (charbens.info)
- Farming in Miniature - Further Discoveries: Charbens (see Volume 1 page 194) (farminginminiature.co.uk)
- Charbens (hobbytalk.com)