Twinzy Toy Company
In 1895 Charles Squier built a home for his new wife, Julia Hickman, right next door to his father’s house, on Fremont Street just north of the park. Shortly after completing his home, he built a factory building behind the house. In this small factory Charles operated the American Manufacturing Company, producing shipping and merchandising tags on a machine he invented.
In 1918 Squier’s twin daughters, Bernice and Blanche, made a wager with their father that they could raise the money they needed to attend college. The girls began making dolls and earned the funds to pay for their first year at school. But there were so many orders for their dolls that the twins decided to forego school and began producing dolls and stuffed animals full time. They formed the Twinzy Toy Company and went into business in their father’s factory building.
Twinzy dolls, toys and animals were designed to be safe for young children, made out of soft cloth and ginghams as well as art leather, which became the most popular line. Their first mass produced doll, the Buddy Doll, was a stocking doll with a painted face which resembled an elf. Another popular doll was a “Man-on-the-Moon” figure with a glow-in-the-dark face. From stuffed dolls the girls expanded into building blocks and stuffed animals.
Their dolls were displayed at the New York Toy Fair in 1920. After the fair, the girls received their first patent and a large order from Marshall Fields. By 1939 sales had increased and the girls opened a New York sales office. In 1940 the twins ran into some labor problems and stopped making the much-sought after toys. One year later, when the twins returned from a trip to the West, they found so many orders for the popular dolls awaiting them that they decided to resume production.
The Twinzy Toy Company continued to manufacture dolls well into the early 1950s. Bernice and Blanche lived in their Fremont Street home until their deaths. The factory building stood in its original location behind the house until the mid-1960s, when it was torn down by the owners at that time. Parts of the foundation still remain at the site.
Many of the original drawings for the toys and the dies that were used to print the fabric dolls and toys are in the Community Archives of Heritage Battle Creek. A selection of the drawings and dies is displayed in the Children’s Room at Kimball House Museum.